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Benton Utilities Electric Department is dedicated to providing the most reliable service at the lowest possible cost to you, our customer.
The electric dept. continues to focus on excellent customer service. We have implemented progressive maintenance programs to focus on maintaining a properly functioning electric distribution system. These programs, which satisfy the requirements of the National Electric Safety Code, consist of regular inspections and appropriate replacements of key equipment, such as poles, capacitors, regulators, reclosers, underground cables, etc.
In 2010, we added a second “service” truck. This enables us to provide more efficient service to our customers. Having two full time crews dedicated to outage restoration, customer complaints and concerns, and new customer connects, increases our productivity two fold. The electric dept. performs regular equipment inspections and maintenance in order to provide reliable power at all times. In August of this year, Benton’s first City owned power substation went on line. This 3 million dollar project is a huge asset to our city and our citizens, it insures adequate power is available when and where needed. The new West Benton Substation is located at 1908 Dale Ave close to our utility service center.
Vegetation removal is a daily task at Benton Utilities Electric Dept., we continue to improve our vegetation management process in order to move away from reactive trimming and establish a system to trim each electrical distribution feeder actively based on its own unique trim cycle. This has improved our system and reduced the number of outages do to trees or other vegetation in the lines. We will be taking an even more proactive strategy in the future to reduce our exposure to trees by placing our residential feeders underground. This project is planned to begin Mid-March 2015 and extend into 2017. Trees, vines, and falling limbs are the largest contributor to power failures in our city. We currently employ West Tree Service for our right of way trimming. Benton Utilities spends in excess of $180,000 annually to combat vegetation growth in and around power lines.
The Benton Utilities Electric Department has a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System (SCADA system) installed and implemented, this is a computer based automated control system that monitors and controls the current of electricity through lines. This system is still a very major asset in our daily operations. The monitoring and control of electrical devices in the field in which they relate to the system as a whole is a money and time saving feature, and it is totally computer based. Its signal is transmitted by a network of Fiber Optic cables installed and maintained by Benton Utilities personnel. Our Substation Technicians can remotely operate equipment in the field from the safety of their laptops.
Benton Utilities Electric Dept. has moved into the techno age my outfitting all our vehicles with internet accessible computers enabling us to access vital information needed to safely and efficiently perform our work while at work sites throughout our service area. This Dept. is actively building an outage management system with the use of smart meters and AUTO-CAD software. When complete, this program will be able to predict and isolate potential problems occurring on the power grid saving costly failures and power interruptions.
Like other utilities across the nation, the electric department’s reliability is adversely affected by vegetation, lightning and animal contacts. Despite these adverse conditions affecting reliability, we have made steady progress in recent years and will continue to strive to improve its reliability record. The best method to sustain reliability improvement is to approach it from the long-term perspective, maintaining reliability programs at a stable level, year after year.
The Manager of the Benton Utilities Electric Department is Gary Fitzhugh. Mr. Fitzhugh brings with him 30 years’ experience in power line construction and distribution. He is responsible for executing the daily activities in the electric department and coordinating these with the Benton Utilities General Manager. Complimenting Mr. Fitzhugh is a staff of highly trained line technicians, in both overhead and underground distribution systems. Our four Substations are maintained by two substation Technicians, as well as 8 Journeyman lineman, and 4 Apprentice Lineman that perform vital assignments daily.
Benton Utilities is dedicated to providing the most reliable energy, at the lowest possible cost to you, our customers.
Benton Utilities Electric Department Manager