Spring 2018 – 497-221: Innovating Solutions to Wildlife Intrusion at O’Hare ComEd Substations

CRN
26239
Meeting Days/Time
Tuesdays from 6:25 to 9:05 pm
Sponsor
ComEd, an Exelon Company
Instructor(s)
Steve Hammond (ID) (stevehammond1@mac.com) in consultation with Blake Davis (INTM)
Appropriate Disciplines
All interested students are welcome
Category
Technological Innovation

Birds and other wildlife gain access to outdoor substation equipment, build nests, and eventually cause equipment failures when wildlife makes contact with exposed energized substation equipment. Animals/Rodents (mice, rats, opossum, skunks, cats, etc.) access ground level cable troughs and chew through control wiring, causing system malfunctions. Many of the issues are in substations located close to O’Hare airport, and therefore serve important, high profile customers that are very sensitive to power interruptions (outages). Outages at these locations result in high level management involvement within ComEd as well as coordination with airport and city officials to resolve in a timely manner. There are several species of birds and rodents that seem to be prevalent in the area.  Some building nests as quickly as one week, therefore making it difficult to create an inspection routine that is frequent enough to identify nests during regularly planned inspections. Outages and repairs are expensive. Response to un-planned outages requires diverting resources from other [planned] work. Previous solutions are expensive and ineffective

The objective of this IPRO project is to recommend a new strategy for ComEd to implement to reduce wildlife intrusion in substation equipment and therefore reduce wildlife related equipment outages. The IPRO team will tackle this objective by undertaking the types of tasks and activities outlined below. This approach will be further discussed and refined by the team through conversations with the IPRO instructors and ComEd representatives:

  1. Understand the problem.
  2. Identify the stakeholders.
  3. Evaluate the bird and rodent species specific to the geographic area
    1. Identify the characteristics of these animals that are hazardous in a substation environment (i.e. wingspan great enough to bridge phases, rodents capable of eating through wires, etc.)
    2. Identify how quickly birds can set up nests
    3. Identify how quickly rodents can access equipment in current configuration.
  4. Perform a site visit to see ComEd equipment first hand.
  5. Evaluate current strategy to prevent wildlife access to equipment and wildlife related outages
    1. Include review of existing products http://midsungroup.com/catalog/
    2. Research what other utilities are doing
    3. Identify alternative vendors for materials.
  6. Determine exactly how much it costs when an outage occurs.
  7. Recommend new methods to prevent wildlife access to substation equipment
    1. Must be cost effective (Payoff in <5 years)
    2. Must have reasonable implementation strategy
    3. Must minimize equipment outages during implementation (during product installation)
    4. Must take all stakeholders into account.
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