Solomon battles elements to replace voltage regulator in mountain location

February 8, 2019

No matter what the problem, no matter what the conditions, when one of Solomon Corporation’s clients present a challenge, our employees rise to the occasion.

In early January, our Decatur, Tennessee, location received a call from a co-op that provides power and broadband services. During maintenance, its technicians discovered that a regulator in its substation needed to be replaced. Co-op technicians had noticed that the unit had an issue and the needle on the position indictor dial (P.I.) wasn’t moving to show what step and what percentage of voltage it was at.

When a regulator fails, the power goes out. And that phase will be out until the regulator can be replaced or bypassed. In this instance, the regulator worked, so the people in the area were never without power. But it still needed to be replaced.

Jeff Judd, Regulator Lead, and Tristan Fischer, Regulator Evaluator, were scheduled to make the 4.25-hour drive to Sparta, North Carolina, the next week. A winter storm blanketed the area with snow and ice, so the trip had to be delayed a week. On Jan. 16, they left and the drive took 5.5 hours due to the conditions.

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Virginia border, Sparta is a remote town about 65 miles northwest of Winston-Salem. The substation is located 40 minutes outside of town in the mountains along the Piney Fork River. The weather presented a challenge, with temperatures in the high teens and hazardous travel conditions.

Jeff has been with Solomon Corp for almost seven years, and he’s faced some challenging situations in that time. His experience and focus on safety were essential to get the job done. Five technicians from the co-op joined Jeff and Tristan to replace the regulator.

The drive cable had walk out of the tapchanger about one inch. That model has a very bad offset in the alignment of the P.I. and the tapchanger where the drive cable connects them and makes it function, Jeff said.

“It took over four hours to troubleshoot and bypass the unit. We grounded everything. We serviced this unit in April 2017. The issue ended up being a manufacturing defect,” Jeff said. The process included rigging the unit to untank, fixing the issue and retanking, then ungrounding everything and re-energizing the unit to get the line back on.

“Everything went smoothly and I’m very proud of the whole team,” Jeff said. “It’s a very dangerous situation, so it’s important everyone works safely and communicates with each other.”

In the end, the regulator didn’t need to be replaced, it just needed some troubleshooting and a technician to fix it. They put the same unit back in service; however, the team came prepared in the event that they couldn’t fix the unit. “Just in case, we had a new regulator on the co-op’s flatbed truck,” Jeff said, “It was getting fixed one way or another.”

This is just one example of how we say YES when presented with a challenge. At Solomon Corp, it’s part of our customer-centric culture. From routine maintenance to urgent needs, our transformer, regulator, and recloser field service crews are available across the country.