New York state regulators have granted Consolidated Edison Company of New York (Con Edison) a three-month extension to complete the five-year inspection cycle of its electric facilities.
State Department of Public Service (DPS) staff in an April 30 recommendation to the state Public Service Commission (PSC) said the current inspection cycle would run through March 31, 2015, instead of Dec. 31, 2014. The current inspection cycle began on Jan. 1, 2010.
The PSC approved the recommendation in a May 16 session, effective May 22.
Con Edison had requested a six-month extension.
A company spokesperson told TransmissionHub on May 30 that Con Edison is pleased that the PSC has provided it with an extra three months under the circumstances to complete stray voltage inspections.
Any inspections that are done during the extension period will not be counted toward the inspections required for the next five-year cycle, which runs from Jan. 1, 2015, through Dec. 31, 2019, staff said in its recommendation.
The Electric Safety Standards were adopted in 2005 and established steps to ensure public safety from stray voltage and enhance the state’s electric systems’ reliability. The mandate requires each utility to inspect all of its facilities once every five years.
Con Edison is subject to a negative revenue adjustment equal to 75 basis points in equity earnings, about $100m, for failing to meet the inspection requirements.
The company filed a petition in January seeking an extension of time to complete the five-year inspection cycle of its electric facilities.
According to the company, Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall in October 2012 in Cape May, N.J., as a post-tropical cyclone or superstorm, significantly affected its electric operations throughout its service territory.
“Con Edison claims that its efforts to restore the electric system to pre-storm condition have delayed the completion of the five year inspection program … by over 32,000 inspections,” staff added.
The company has implemented a plan to complete the inspections by Dec. 31, 2014, but that required it to allocate needed company resources “that could otherwise materially assist in meeting vital operating needs, such as, restoring crucial storm-damaged facilities, preparing the electric system for the 2013 summer peak, and addressing system repair work and new business requests” to perform additional inspections and repairs, staff said.
The company further claimed that with limited resources available to it, a six-month extension of the current inspection cycle would allow the company to better allocate resources and meet the five year inspection requirement, staff added.
Con Edison is not proposing any delay for the next five-year cycle, which runs from Jan. 1, 2015, through Dec. 31, 2019.
The standards require Con Edison to visually inspect at least 20% of its electric facilities each year during the five-year cycle, and by the end of the fifth year, the company would have inspected 100% of its facilities.
The company has about 278,000 underground structures, of which 158,363 still need to be inspected in order to meet the current inspection cycle requirements. Additionally, 8,350 structures previously inspected will have to be inspected again for storm flood damage due to Sandy, bringing the total required inspections to 166,713, staff added.
The company’s plan is to inspect 98,361 and 68,352 facilities in each of its last two years of the cycle.
While the company claims its field personnel typically complete about 1,000 inspections per month, those crews had been involved in post-Sandy restoration activities and did not resume facility inspections until February. According to Con Edison, that delay resulted in the loss of about three months of inspection time, or about 3,000 inspections.
Inspections by the existing contractors were suspended for five weeks until Dec. 3, 2012, and during that period, they would have inspected 5,750 facilities, staff added. Instead, they were assigned to do post-storm restoration work, such as pumping water from structures that were submerged by the flooding, staff added.
In total, Sandy has affected 32,100 inspections.
“Con Edison field personnel activities during Sandy restoration delayed 3,000 inspections, but still could complete 9,000 inspections in 2013 at approximately 1,000 inspections per month, even with the loss of three months,” staff said. “Additionally, the recent revisions to the standards require that overhead distribution facilities, underground residential distribution (URD) facilities, overhead and underground transmission structures, and substation fences be tested for stray voltage during mandated inspections on a five-year cycle rather than tested annually.”
The contractor crews that normally would conduct the stray voltage testing would now be freed up to do facility inspections. Existing contractors that were diverted to Sandy assignments and re-inspections will need three months to complete 14,100 inspections. New contractors were delayed training and would therefore need three months to complete 15,000 inspections, staff said.
Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison (NYSE:ED).