At year-end 2018, your not-for-profit cooperative served 205,644 members with reliable, safe, affordable power. The communities SECO Energy serves in our seven-county area are growing. You and your fellow members consumed over 3.14 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) last year – an increase of 184 million kWh over 2017.
We welcomed 5,161 new members in 2018. SECO invested over $3.3 million per month to maintain, inspect and build new infrastructure to reach new members and improve system reliability. The total investment in facilities tops $878.7 million.
Much of our growth can be attributed to The Villages expansion in Sumter County but other counties are prospering as well. 23% of last year’s new growth occurred in Marion County and 32% was attributed to Lake County. 43% of the growth falls in Sumter County, and SECO’s 2019 work plan aligns with that ongoing development.
This month, I’m highlighting a noteworthy system improvement project – the $3 million Federal substation expansion in Sumter County along County Road 501. Federal’s expansion is impressive – tripling its size – making it the largest in SECO’s territory to keep pace with growth in The Villages of Fenney, Southern Oaks and the Turnpike area.
The existing substation was rebuilt in 2017. A new control house was installed. The high and low side bus work was rebuilt, the sub was completely rewired and expanded foundations were poured.
In this state-of-the-art substation, we are adding two 56 MVA power transformers for a total of three, and building eight new distribution feeders for a total of 12 to serve more members. Federal serves 3,000 members – my home included. After expansion, capacity will increase ten-fold to potentially power 30,000 members’ homes.
Safeguarding this multi-million-dollar investment is a relay protection scheme programmed to protect the substation and power transformers to keep the sub operational. SECO Relay Technicians like Travis Taylor (who you’ll read about as this month’s SECO Champion) compute the limits feeders can distribute and the amount of fault current feeders can absorb and continue to operate safely.
Power transformers provide the proper voltage to members served by the substation. When unexpected outages occur, a car hits a pole or a tree falls on the line, relays operate and try to clear the fault/interruption detected on the line. A power blink is the relay scheme in action, interrupting power and restoring quickly. If the fault still exists after the blink, the relay shuts the power flow to protect the transformers as well as the downline breakers and equipment.
Like the substation itself, the relay scheme is high-tech. Federal will be equipped with an auto-restore scheme. If a power transformer is nonoperational, a transformer in the substation will automatically pick up the load in less than a minute. Thus, members may see a blink instead of a full outage. The transmission lines will be fully looped – meaning if a fault occurs on one side of the transmission line, another side will automatically pick up the load and members won’t know a problem occurred.
SECO’s 48 substations are inspected monthly. Crews visually inspect all material, run diagnostic tests and view equipment through an infrared camera that detects temperature variations. Equipment that is out of normal temperature ranges is inspected and replaced or repaired.
Along with monthly maintenance, substations undergo a major overhaul every eight years. Our techs test relays, breakers and transformers. Test records help build trends over time. Every year, a dissolved gas analysis is conducted on all substation power transformers. Techs take a sample of the oil found in the transformers and test for arcing, which is the first sign of failure. Samples are tested in-house at our mini lab and sent away for further analysis if dangerous gases are present and degradation is suspected.
Federal is one of many system improvement projects scheduled this year. The Marion Oaks substation is being completely rebuilt, and we’re upgrading the Ocala Park substation. Major maintenance is happening at the Clermont, Haines Creek, Inverness, Linadale, Mount Dora and The Villages substations.
Improving reliability and keeping power affordable for you and your family are top priorities at SECO.
Meet SECO Champion Travis Taylor – an example of our 400+ SECO Champion employees. Travis is dedicated to providing exceptional service to members, co-workers and communities.
TRAVIS TAYLOR – RELAY TECHNICIAN
LENGTH OF SERVICE – 2 YEARS
“SECO is reliable.”
SECO Champion Travis Taylor is a 1st Class Relay Technician stationed in Sumterville. As a Relay Technician, he commissions, tests and maintains the equipment in SECO’s substations. A Florida native originally from Apopka, Travis and his wife have two young sons and make their home on the eastern side of SECO’s territory in Mount Dora. Travis and his family are active at their local church. Travis’ work at the Federal substation is instrumental in bringing its two new power transformers and expanded member capacity online. When Federal’s expansion is complete it will be the largest substation in SECO’s territory.
RELAY FOR LIFE – JOIN THE SECO ENERGY VIRTUAL TEAM
SECO Energy is a proud, long-time supporter of the American Cancer Society by participating in local Relay For Life events. Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s premier event.
This year, we are asking members to join a virtual SECO Relay For Life team established in your local community.
By partnering with SECO’s virtual Relay For Life team, you become a member of an organization of 3.5 million survivors, patients, advocates, volunteers, caregivers and researchers doing everything within our power to save lives.
You can participate virtually and/or in person. To join a SECO Energy team, visit Relay Events, look for “Find a Participant or Team” and choose “Team.” Enter team name: “SECO Energy” and click “Search.” Choose your local Relay event to join one of SECO’s teams, donate or dedicate a luminaria.
Join SECO Energy and the American Cancer Society today!
CALL 811 BEFORE YOU DIG
Planting a garden or a tree? Call 811 before you dig. In Florida, it’s the law.
Sunshine 811 is a free service that locates and marks underground utilities, keeping you and your family safe from digging into buried electric, natural gas, telephone or water lines. Know what’s below – dial 811 or visit Sunshine 811 online to request utility locating assistance.
TREE LINE USA 12 YEARS GROWING
We are proud to announce that SECO Energy has earned the Tree Line USA Utility distinction from the Arbor Day Foundation. Your cooperative has been named a Tree Line USA Utility now for 12 consecutive years!
The Arbor Day Foundation created the Tree Line USA program to recognize public and private utilities for practices that protect and enhance America’s urban forests. A collaboration of the Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters, Tree Line USA promotes the dual goals of delivering safe and reliable electricity while maintaining healthy community trees.
To be named a Tree Line USA Utility, SECO follows the Arbor Day Foundation’s standards that include quality tree care, annual worker training, tree planting and public education, tree-based energy conservation programs and participation in an annual Arbor Day celebration event.
Read the full April 2019 SECO News online.