Tripsavers Take Teamwork

FirstEnergy Tripsaver installation Ohio Edison-Penn Power Clark Service Center Photo by Roger Mastroianni

January 21, 2021

Since the electric grid is a highly complex system, FirstEnergy’s installation of advanced equipment – such as TripSaver automated reclosing devices – isn’t always as simple as just removing an old fuse-and-cutout unit and bolting up the new apparatus. Fitting more than 1,700 TripSavers as part of the JCP&L Reliability Plus Infrastructure Improvement Plan (IIP) required teamwork between engineering and field workers to ensure the devices enhanced distribution system reliability.

“Engineering and field work make up the beginning and end of the process,” said Vivian Chiang, engineer III, Relay and Distributed Generation. “We had to work effectively together to make sure things were done correctly and in the proper order.”

Jon Youmans, acting manager, Operations Services, agreed. “We worked closely with Vivian throughout the TripSaver installations – she directed where we had to go and what we had to do next. And she was our ‘go to’ when we needed questions answered or issues resolved,” said Jon, who’s based at the Union Beach facility.

Before a wrench was turned in the field, though, Vivian conducted careful engineering studies to determine the proper amperage and other specifications of each TripSaver. In some cases, months or years of operational and outage history were analyzed along with load growth data and other factors.

At times, she also consulted planning engineers, who tended to be most familiar with the power load requirements in an area. For instance, the three-phase power quality needs of large commercial and industrial customers were considered to ensure their equipment was well protected from harmful voltage variations.

On many circuits, these studies were used to install additional TripSavers to further minimize the number, severity and duration of customer outages.

Once device specifications were determined, the TripSavers were built and delivered to the field ready for installation. However, the implementation process didn’t always go as planned. For example, testing sometimes revealed a TripSaver was not operating as expected – typically tripping too soon or not soon enough. That’s when Vivian often got involved again to determine the proper programming adjustments needed to fix the problem.

“I enjoyed Reliability Plus work because it was more hands-on than usual,” said Vivian. “Developing new setting files for a malfunctioning device sometimes was a challenge, but a good one. I learned so much, troubleshooting with the field technicians.”

Jon added: “Overall, this IIP work was a really good experience. When programming issues occurred, we were able to work with Vivian to resolve them quickly.”

What’s a TripSaver?

FEU crews have been installing TripSavers on power lines in various parts of our service territory. The device works like a circuit breaker in a home – with the added benefit of automatically re-energizing a power line within seconds to keep the electricity safely flowing to customers.