Southwire Communicates with Congressional Leaders at Blackout Hearings

Company's CEO Says Products Now Available Could Help Prevent Future Power Grid


Sep 04, 2003, 01:00 ET from Southwire Company

    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
     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
     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
      - 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)
     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
     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.
      Stuart Thorn
      President and CEO
      Southwire Company

SOURCE Southwire Company