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Building resilience into Baton Rouge
Nick White and Austin Eknoian are Entergy Louisiana lineworkers who live and work in Baton Rouge. They and their coworkers like George Redd and Logan Byrd, field engineers, are helping keep the lights on and build resilience into the electric system serving the Capital City.
“It’s challenging but rewarding work,” White said. “Every day is different, but what remains the same is that people are depending on me for power and to do my job safely and efficiently.”
While lineworkers like White and Eknoian brave the elements in the field, sometimes working on overhead or underground electric equipment during extreme heat and cold, engineers like Redd and Byrd are busy utilizing the latest technology to map out improvement projects, often referred to in the utility industry as “reliability work.”
The process of identifying where improvements to the electric system need to be made to performing and completing the work is methodical and can take time.
“Not every project is a simple one,” Redd said. “Sometimes, the job requires a lot of materials, specialized equipment or crews and even coordination with outside agencies; but at the end of the day, it’s all about making sure our customers receive a good product.”
“The goal of our maintenance and reliability work is to prevent power outages from occurring, especially when the rain begins falling and wind starts blowing,” White said.
A methodical process
Entergy Louisiana field engineers George Redd and Logan Byrd use a “feeder” map to discuss reliability work.
To make sure the company’s efforts are having a high impact for customers, dedicated teams meet regularly and use data to determine circuits that should be prioritized. From there, improvement projects often come full circle for Entergy employees and contractors — beginning and ending in the field:
- First, a reliability serviceman, for example, inspects a stretch of powerline and compiles additional information. To do this, they go into the field and visually inspect or use technology to view equipment like poles, transformers, crossarms and smart devices. They take notes and later enter their findings into one of the company’s digital databases.
- Engineers and designers then take findings from the field and build reliability projects using analytics, data and computer programs to make sure the job package meets the company’s updated resilience standards related to wind speeds.
- Once the project is reviewed and approved by members and leaders of the local network, it is sent on to utility crews to complete in the field.
- And finally, utility workers hop into trucks, oftentimes ones equipped with augers and buckets and loaded with materials like poles and wire, to safely perform work aimed at making sure customers enjoy an uninterrupted flow of power.
To complete improvement projects, collaboration takes place between multiple departments and employees with different skill sets.
“Collaboration not only makes the work we do fulfilling, but it also ensures the projects we work on are done with excellence,” Byrd said.
“Being able to receive feedback from our operations coordinators and supervisors is crucial to making sure we accomplish what we’ve set out to do,” Redd said.
Many projects underway
Entergy Louisiana lineworkers install a new smart device called a recloser along North Street in the heart of Baton Rouge.
There are several reliability projects underway in Baton Rouge with many more to come. Recent examples of these projects include crews installing animal mitigation equipment in Sherwood Forest, new distribution poles in the Gardere and Glen Oaks areas, new transmission poles near LSU and a new smart device that adds automation to the power grid serving part of Mid City.
Over the next several weeks and months, crews will continue:
- Inspecting powerlines based on data and customer feedback and identifying additional improvement projects that can be performed by utility workers.
- Trimming trees and limbs away from overhead electric equipment to reduce the potential for vegetation-related outages to occur.
- Installing new utility poles and powerlines where necessary to strengthen the electric system and prevent outages from occurring.
- Installing more protection devices on electric equipment like switches and transformers to prevent service interruptions from animal contact.
- Strategically installing smart devices like reclosers to give the electric system an opportunity to stay online in the case of temporary impacts like a tree limb falling onto a powerline.
For employees like White, Eknoian, Redd and Byrd, the work they do for their communities is personal. When they are not toiling at work, they are relaxing and enjoying what the Capital Region has to offer.
While White prefers playing pool and Eknoian enjoys local football games, Byrd spends time with his wife and three dogs exploring nature parks in areas like St. Francisville and Redd, his wife and five-year-old daughter enjoy time as a family at gymnastics or swim lessons.
“This is home,” White said, adding, “To me, I don’t just work for Entergy, I work for the communities we serve here in Baton Rouge.”