Southwire Communicates with Congressional Leaders at Blackout Hearings
Company's CEO Says Products Now Available Could Help Prevent Future Power Grid
CARROLLTON, Ga., Sept. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- As congressional leaders met today during hearings regarding the recent blackout that left millions in the northeast United States without electricity, Southwire Company showed solutions are available today that could help prevent similar events from happening. In a letter to congressmen leading the hearings, Southwire President and CEO Stuart Thorn spoke of a handful of technologies that could prove valuable as work progresses to solve the power grid issue. "Finding the exact chain of events leading to the recent blackout is no doubt important," Thorn said. "Preventing future blackouts is just as important. Products manufactured today by Southwire Company can help that effort, in the proper regulatory climate." The full text of Thorn's letter follows. Three weeks ago, on a day that started like any other, some of you found yourselves stuck in trains, hotels, airports and other places as failed transmission lines cut off power to millions, eventually leaving them in the dark. If you were not affected directly, many of you have constituents who were. Finding the exact chain of events leading to the recent blackout is no doubt important. Preventing future blackouts is just as important. Products manufactured today by Southwire Company can help that effort, in the proper regulatory climate. A leader in the wire and cable industry, Southwire serves many of the top utility companies across the United States. We are North America's largest producer of bare overhead transmission cable and operate the nation's only state-of-the-art, high-voltage, underground cable plant. Through close relationships with our customers in the power transmission industry, we understand their frustration over the recent blackout. We also understand their concerns about not being able to upgrade their systems because of uncertainty related to deregulation, or public pressures against expansion of transmission facilities. Part of our success centers around a desire to provide solutions to issues facing our customers and those they serve. It is of paramount importance that the energy legislation currently being considered contain provisions that remove obstacles undermining necessary investment in the antiquated electricity grid. In addition, it is necessary to provide incentives to ensure utilities deploy innovative, new products that can increase the flow of power significantly. Currently, the House and Senate-passed energy bills contain provisions that promote expansion of the transmission grid and advocate the use of technologies that increase capacity. We believe these provisions are a good start to ensuring the transmission grid is upgraded. To further stimulate investment in the transmission grid, we believe it is necessary to provide favorable tax treatment of these upgrades. Neither the House or Senate legislation contains sufficient incentives that would facilitate improvements in the grid. As the conference works to reconcile the two bills, we believe one of the solutions to creating a modernized transmission grid is tax incentives designed to promote expansion of the grid and use of new technologies that increase capacity. We would encourage you to look closely at transmission and distribution incentives and focus on ensuring today's decisions add capacity to the system and bring needed new technology into the electric transmission and distribution infrastructure. The recent blackout has highlighted the need for modernizing the transmission grid and we wanted to provide information about technologies that are available today that could alleviate stress on the grid. - Southwire has developed ACSS/TW trapezoidal cable, which uses an aluminum conductor supported by a steel core to reduce sagging. Heat generated by the flow of electricity can cause a cable to sag, reducing the amount of current it can carry. By reducing sag, ACSS/TW cable is able to deliver more power to those who need it. The cable incorporates another innovation, trapezoidal-shaped wires that fit together tightly, eliminating most of the surrounding air. This allows more metal to fit into the same diameter cable, further improving its ability to handle large amounts of power. ACSS/TW cable can increase the power flowing through an existing right-of-way by as much as 50 to 100 percent. - Southwire engineers have developed, in conjunction with ComEd, an overhead, "smart" cable containing small, temperature-sensing, fiber optic wires between the cable strands. The fibers enable monitoring of the cable temperature with extreme accuracy. Not only is the overall temperature available, the temperature at any given spot can be accurately determined, allowing more current to flow through the cable before the critical temperature is reached. This information can be translated into potential increases in the power-handling capability of a right-of-way, with full operator visibility of the true capacity of the system, as well an early indication of pending temperature-related problems. - Power companies have used underground transmission cables worldwide since the 1960s. Underground transmission lines can be built where there is no space for overhead lines or where overhead lines do not meet public approval. Forte Power Systems -- a Southwire company -- designs, manufactures and installs underground cable systems up to 230kV, with 345kV projects available. Options include continuous monitoring of distributed temperature throughout the cables using integrated optical fiber. Forte Power Systems is North America's only provider of the critical 230kV cables systems. These are products available right now that could help improve the efficiency of our nation's power grid. As always, Southwire is looking to the future. In a Department of Energy-funded partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratories, we have developed a high-temperature superconducting (HTS) cable. Installed in February 2000, this cable has operated continuously, providing power to Southwire's manufacturing facilities in Carrollton, Georgia. Special superconducting tapes, flooded with liquid nitrogen, replace conventional copper or aluminum wires. The result is a very high-capacity cable able to carry three to five times more power than conventional cables. HTS cables will be an integral part of future transmission systems where reliable bulk power must be moved long distances or through constricted corridors. Through Ultera, a new Southwire joint venture with nkt cables, a second DOE-sponsored project with Oak Ridge National Laboratories is now underway on the American Electric Power system in Columbus, Ohio. The new cable will use a more economical cable design, further paving the road for commercial applications in the next five years. These are just a few of the ways Southwire is working to improve the manner in which electricity is delivered from generators to customers. Sincerely, Stuart Thorn President and CEO Southwire Company
SOURCE Southwire Company
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