PG&E Teaches Linemen How to Work on Energized Power Lines

PG&E Teaches Linemen How to Work on Energized Power Lines


What does it take for linemen to
safely work on energized power lines carrying up 500,000 volts
of electricity? Training.  Lots of training. In May, PG&E completed
annual training for a special group of linemen who
perform upgrades, maintenance and repairs on energized
transmission power lines that carry 60,000 to 500,000 volts of
electricity. The technique is called Barehanding in the
utility industry. PG&E began implementing Barehand work
procedures in 1990. With the Barehand methods, we’re
able to keep the lines energized to keep all the customers hot.
Their power doesn’t have to go out. And it’s actually,
for the worker, a safer work practice and it’s easier on
their bodies. Workers are protected from energized
equipment on high voltage power lines by
using insulated tools, ladders and
aerial lifts and by wearing a special suit that acts like
a shield to prevent electric current from flowing through
their body. The suit also eliminates the discomfort
associated with working on high voltage power lines. That suit you put on to keep the electricity flowing around your
body instead of through it. If you don’t have that suit on,
you’ll feel the electricity going through your body. 
Even though you’re at the same potential, like a bird
landing on a wire, it’s not comfortable.  When you put
that suit on and have that electricity going around your
body, you don’t feel a thing. Because of this specialized
training, PG&E can reduce the number of planned outages and
shorten timeframes needed to upgrade, maintain and repair its
electric system. In 2014, PG&E customers experienced the fewest
number of outages in company history. It just feels good that you can
provide a service to the public, and you don’t interrupt
their daily routine. For Currents, I’m Brian Swanson.

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