2021 ENGINEERING & OPERATONS PROJECTS
The Littleton Electric Light Department is always looking for ways to improve our Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. This year we will be upgrading the SCADA communication system to several devices in Boxborough via a meshed network.
The meshed radio system will allow the radios to communicate and send data between each other, allowing for a more reliable connection to previously hard to reach locations. These radios will be connected to a new master radio installed in Boxborough with a fiber connection to LELWD’s headend. This fiber connection is much faster and more secure when compared to the current radio connection. Having a more reliable connection will improve all aspects of our SCADA system.
LELD uses 2-way radios for important communications both on daily projects and in emergency situations. LELD currently uses a third-party provider for this radio system. This year we will be moving to our own 2-way radio system built on our own infrastructure. This will improve signal strength and eliminate dead zones, while giving us more control over system performance and reliability. With the improved radio system, we will be able to serve the community more safely and effectively.
Capacitor Control Installs
This year LELD will be upgrading and resizing capacitor controls throughout Littleton and Boxborough to help remotely control our systems power factor and improve system efficiency. We currently have automatic capacitor controls installed, several of which can now be remotely controlled by SCADA. Having remotely controlled switches allows us to monitor our capacitor banks more efficiently and control them more precisely as our system load changes. Over the course of this year, we will be resizing and relocating several of our capacitor banks to more optimal locations and upgrading them to allow remote SCADA control. This will help improve overall system efficiency and power quality.
Advanced Meter Infrastruture
The Littleton Electric Light & Water Department’s existing meter infrastructure, AMR (Automated Meter Reading), is at its end of life and needs replacing. As a result, LELWD will be replacing customer meters with AMI (Advanced Meter Infrastructure) meters. These new meters use similar technology as our previous AMR meters but are able to provide more benefits to you and LELWD. Read more here: Advanced Meter Infrastructure
Porter Road Open Wire Conversion
LELD will be converting open wire to spacer cable throughout portions of Porter Road. Open wire construction, while being proven reliable, is susceptible to outages caused by tree contact. Although we do aggressively trim trees throughout our system every day, we cannot completely prevent tree outages.
Spacer cable consists of insulated conductors constructed in a triangular configuration and held together by spacer brackets. The spacer cable is supported by a high-tension messenger wire which helps to maximize reliability. Although, tree outages are still possible, they are a lot less likely with spacer cable installed.
Over the past several years LELD has been able to install wildlife protection on all single phase equipment. Starting in 2021, we will embark on a 5 year project to install protection on all three phase equipment. Before adding wildlife protection to single-phase distribution equipment, squirrels were the leading cause of outages in our distribution system. In 2017, Squirrels were the cause of approximately 30% of our total outages, whereas in 2020 they accounted for only 14%.
LELD will be scheduling outages with residents throughout the year to complete the installations. We appreciate everyone’s patience during the process.
The Littleton Electric Light Department will be improving reliability throughout King St by replacing aging infrastructure.
As part of LELD’s ongoing yearly testing and preventative maintenance schedule, a portion of the infrastructure on King St was determined to no longer meet our standards. In order to maintain our high standards for reliability, replacement of this infrastructure began in late 2020 and will continue throughout 2021.
This year we also plan to upgrade the open wire on Gilson Rd and the Matawanakee area to tree wire. Tree wire is a covered wire that helps prevent faults due to tree branch contact. It is often installed in single phase residential areas. Tree wire is more durable and will help improve reliability throughout the Matawanakee area.
As part of LELD’s ongoing yearly testing and preventative maintenance schedule, one of our 25kV circuit breakers at the Beaver Brook Substation was tested and found to be unreliable. LELD will be proactively replacing the breaker as it is a piece of critical infrastructure. The new breaker will allow us to maintain reliability and help prevent outages.
Littleton Electric Light Department continues to be recognized as a Reliable Public Power Provider and a Smart Energy Provider by the American Public Power Association (APPA) — a trade group in Washington, D.C., that represents more than 2,000 not-for-profit, community-owned electric utilities, such as LELD. These recognitions are based on reliability, safety, workforce development, system improvement, energy efficiency and distributed energy resources, environmental and sustainability programs, communication/ education, and smart energy information.