Several years ago, Little River began conversion work on all of the distribution system in McCormick County, which was then served by two of our older substations. We changed everything—transformers, regulators, insulators, arrestors, and all sectionalizing equipment.
Why? For efficiency. The voltage will be higher on the new substations. Using higher voltages minimizes power loss, sometimes referred to as line loss.
When the Savannah Lakes station was built, the distribution voltage was 14,400 volts. The voltage on the two other stations was 7,200 volts. Our new substation between McCormick and Plum Branch uses 14,400 voltage. This will allow us to backfeed power. If transmission is out from one direction, we can get power from the other.
The new station increases reliability. The 44 kilovolt (kv) transmission line, owned by Dominion Energy, which supplied our McCormick County substations, could not handle backfeeding. It has had issues with outages, blinks, and voltage. Each of the stations now will be supplied by Dominion’s 115 kv transmission line, which has backfeed capability. It also serves a larger number of consumers. This should provide us with a more reliable power source to our substations.
Even though the conversion is not quite complete, we have started moving some members to the new station. This will cause some short-term outages for those who are being added to the new station. We will minimize the length of these outages as much as possible.
As the lines are changed over, the power must be disconnected and the switches changed on the transformers to accept the higher voltages. We will inform the members affected by these changes when change-overs are to be performed. We apologize for the inconvenience and we appreciate your patience. This will be the last step in converting all of our distribution system in McCormick County to the new voltages and a different Dominion transmission feed.
Sharing costs fairly
In 2016, a cost of service study was done to see where Little River rates and service availability charges should be. It was reported in South Carolina Living that rates were in-line, but the service availability fees were low. With an eye toward fair cost-sharing, your board decided to raise the fee by $2 a year so the fee would reach $28 a month by the beginning of 2021.
The fee was raised to $23 a month in 2018, which helped with much-needed maintenance on rights of way. Last year there was no increase. This year we will have to increase the fee by $2 in order to do urgently needed maintenance in other areas of the system. Fortunately, there will be no increase in the cost of energy rates this year.
Still on the job at 80
This year is Little River Electric Cooperative’s 80th birthday. Thanks to all our members for allowing us to serve you for the past eight decades!
Serving in a large rural area comes with challenges. It’s hard, we recognize, to be without power or to have nuisance power blinks. We strive to deliver safe and reliable service, but there are many things that we have no control over.
Fortunately, we can control some things, and we can look out for one another. So, as cold weather arrives, let’s all remember to check on family, neighbors and pets. Thanks.
Mike Ellis, General Manager