Utility improvements will soon decrease power outages

Keeping lights on

The Natchitoches Utility Department will increase the reliability of its electrical system, decrease the number of outages and improve power restoration time by creating a ring bus system.

The system will be completed by the beginning of 2018. Bids are currently out for breakers and control panels. Other essential parts are being manufactured. There’s also a massive amount of wiring required to install all of the components.

The ring bus system will create a complete circuit in the substations and distribution lines that exist in the City, according to Utility Director Charles Brossette. Currently, Natchitoches is fed its electricity by two Cleco lines. Substations include: Dixie, Hwy. 1 South, Bypass, St. Maurice, Sibley and the main Power Plant off of Texas Street. Cleco feeds the Dixie substation with 138,000 volts and the St. Maurice substation with 69,000 volts.

Each substation has four distribution feeders, which totals 21 distribution circuits in the City. Transmission lines connect all the substations in a loop. Breakers at each substation feed the electricity to the lines.

If a fault occurs on one of the lines, such as a fallen tree or curious animal, the whole substation will go dark. The way the system is currently set up, if something like this were to happen, two substations could be lost right off the bat.

The missing link is the line between the Hwy. 1 South and Bypass substations, which is currently only being used as an emergency tie with manual switches. By adding breakers and sectionalizing the 69,000 KB side of the line, the whole City won’t loose power as easily because other substations will be kept on.

Another measure being taken is the installation of pulse fault interrupters at Alliance Compressors, which connects the big plant to two power sources. They will also be installed at Pilgrim’s Pride. These switches are connected by fibre so they can talk to one another. They send a pulse down the line to test it. If something happens to one line of power, the pulse fault interrupters will detect it and switch power to a secondary substation. This will keep big plants in the City running if there are problems with some of the lines and will help get power restored to them faster.