• Power utility mulls hotline washing of high-tension wires across Nashik

    The Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company Limited (MSETCL) has decided to conduct ‘hotline washing’ of high tension lines to avoid long power outages acoross the district. For this purpose, it may need to procure additional instruments.
    The procedure requires a truck-mounted instrument that allows one to spray de-mineralised water below the insulators made of china-clay to remove dust. Since this exercise is carried out without shutting down the power supply, it’s called ‘hotline washing’.
    The June 20 debacle that left the entire district in darkness for over 14 hours has pushed the state power utility to take concrete steps towards rectifying the problem and ensuring that Nashik does not have to face power outages of such large proportions in future.
    The issue of pre-monsoon maintenance of high power transmission lines has come under the scanner especially after the June 20-incident of power failure in district that resulted in three talukas and industrial area going without power besides tripping of two power generation sets in Eklahara colony. The Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company Limited (MSETCL) has therefore decided to conduct live washing of the high tension lines for which it may require to purchase instruments.
    “Once acquired, it will be the first-of-its-kind kit with the MSETCL in the state, which is used mostly to clean insulators more than 100ft above where fine dust accumulates and creates a path for water, leading to power failures. Since the pre-monsoon maintenance is a major issue, the company is contemplating buying the truck-mounted instrument for cleaning purpose,” a senior officer from MSETCL said.
    “The MSETCL currently has units to conduct hotline washing of the system where maintenance is carried out without shutting down the line – while 1,32,000 to 2,22,000 volt of energy passes through the wires. It is a specialist job. It is more difficult to clean the system with water. Around two years ago, the company cleaned the system using the cold water washing process. the drawback of this process is the limited amount of time available to complete the process, as the power supply has to be restored soon,” the officer added.

    Abroad, maintenance of the system is carried out through specially designed choppers. For cold washing the system, power outage for longer durations is needed, which is not feasible, especially during summers. “We cannot closing lines for too long, which leaves no scope for cleaning the system,” the officer said. Discussing the hotline washing method, he said that since there were no experts available to carry out the job, MSETCL was planning on readying a team that would specialise in carrying out the work. “The teams will be trained, developed and retained for the job,” he added.
    There is, however, another side to the issue.
    “The MSETCL officials may find it feasible to buy the equipment for hotline washing but a major concern remains about how often the kit would be brought to use. In such a scenario, it is best to outsource the work so that the utility can focus on other issues at hand instead for worrying up training and retaining teams for the job. Why should the company invest in a machine that will require huge funds? Let the job be outsourced, which is limited to a particular time of the year,” a union leader of the employees of the company said. Water should be de-mineralised 100% by the agency hired for the job and any shortcomings should be punished severely, he added.
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