Electricity, energy's most easily controllable form, is an indispensable tool in building and sustaining modern societies. At Dominion Energy, we take extensive precautions to protect our employees, our contractors and the public from any electrical mishaps.
The Dominion Energy Transmission and Distribution group is engaged in a series of projects centered on two main concerns: systems safety and reliability across local, state, federal and National Electric Safety Code levels. These concerns are addressed before, during and after all project plans are implemented.
- We conduct diligent inspections to ensure all our equipment is safe for those in the community and for our lines crews. By the end of 2018, we will have inspected 125,000 wood poles to verify they meet our stringent safety requirements.
- We work closely with fire, police and ambulance providers to help educate them on the dangers of electricity and what to do when coming across downed electrical wires and energized homes that are on fire.
- We use our “safety village” tool to demonstrate electrical safety concepts at schools and community events.
- We provide the public with a variety of safety tips to reduce electricity-related accidents or injuries.
Power Line Projects
Dominion Energy continues to invest in high-voltage transmission assets to strengthen grid reliability for our electric customers. We constantly work to replace aged infrastructure. For example, we are rebuilding the 500-kilovolt loop that serves as the backbone of our service area. Another approach we are pursuing is investing in new transmission facilities to support expansion of electrical needs across our system.
In markets where we have received regulatory approval, Dominion Energy uses smart-meter technology. These new meters help drive safety by increasing the speed with which we respond to outages. The meters help pinpoint the outage locations so that we can reduce truck rolls and eliminate wasted time on the roads. Smart meters also reduce the number of trucks on the road for meter-reading. Smart meters mean fewer trucks on the road, less potential for accidents and fewer intrusions onto private properties.
Strategic Underground Program
Dominion Energy Virginia’s Strategic Underground Program is a system-wide initiative to shorten restoration times following significant storms. The project involves placing outage-prone overhead electrical distribution lines underground. The overhead electrical wires in neighborhoods sustain the most damage during bad weather.
The result: Communities now enjoy more reliable power supply and better electrical safety. With more lines underground, there is less potential for trees to knock over overhead electrical infrastructure. This keeps the public safe and reduces opportunities for our employees to be injured while repairing downed power lines in hazardous conditions.
Unmanned Aerial Inspections
High-voltage transmission lines have a significant role in the overall performance of the electrical network. Dominion Energy continues to utilize Federal Aviation Administration-approved service providers with the requisite training and authorization to inspect our transmission lines and towers. These providers are also trained in use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) to accomplish this task. This program improves safety, shortens the time needed to patrol transmission lines, and reduces the need to use helicopters during inspections. Since its inception, Dominion Energy has inspected more than 200 miles of transmission lines and more than 2,000 structures.
Dominion Energy enforces NESC, ANSI C2 rules and complies with OSHA regulations. Appropriate signage marks all relevant areas in and around our substations and switchyards. Additionally, the company maintains a concerted effort to harden boundaries and implement sophisticated asset monitoring around the perimeter of our substations. These steps improve the safety and security of the communities we serve.
Tree Trimming and Cutting Right-of-Way
Physical contact with energized power lines can cause electric shock, serious injury or death. Direct or indirect human contact with power lines could be caused when live power lines are blown down by falling trees or branches. The resultant flashover causes line voltage increases, which are especially dangerous for all within that community.
Dominion Energy manages this risk by regularly trimming trees and vegetation around overhead power lines in all our service territories. In keeping with company policy, persons working on power lines to perform tree trimming activities must be certified through company-approved training courses provided by qualified training authorities.
We also require that a safety specialist or a supervisor be present for all tree trimming to make sure all team members comply with company-specific safety practices. Safety specialists at our work sites have the authority to stop work at any time if they believe safety is compromised.
Our certified trainers offer eight-hour defensive driving courses to qualifying employees throughout our service territories. The courses are provided in a range of affordable options and formats to meet the needs of our organization. More than 3,000 employees have completed this training (as well as DMV escort and CDL training) in the last two years alone. Through this program, Dominion Energy expects to improve employee and public safety, better control liability costs associated with work-related vehicle crashes, reduce insurance premiums and reduce vehicular repair bills.
Safety and Contractor Oversight
Employee safety is a top priority. Dominion Energy emphasizes the importance of safe work environments by maintaining extensive safety qualifications under Work Zone Traffic Control, OSHA, DMV, and other oversight controls and affiliations. Furthermore, it has implemented programs such as job safety assessments, root cause analyses, a quick-information database called The Source, and health and safety training plans to promote employee awareness. Through these carefully crafted programs, we are relaying to each team member the central role they play in creating injury-free work environments.
Dominion Energy's commitment to safety extends beyond its employees to include all contractors. Here are a few measures currently taken to illustrate this:
- Contractors are approved and tracked on their past safety statistics.
- Contractors are assigned on-site coordinators to monitor their safety performance.
- Dominion Energy conducts field audits to ensure our contractors meet all safety expectations.
- Contractors, like employees, must report all observed hazards and incidents. We believe the value of reporting and investigating all incidents outweighs simply tracking lost-time injury rates.
The Dominion Electric Safety and Training staff works diligently to review, develop and implement work procedures required to efficiently and safely install, operate and maintain electric facilities. This includes addressing new technologies, smart grid, and distributed generation such as wind and solar.
Another component of work methods is to evaluate, test and implement new tools and equipment to enhance the safety and efficiency of our specialized work force.
We actively participate in industry working groups such as the Edison Electric Institute and the Southeastern Electric Exchange to stay abreast of new regulations, learn about new technologies, tools and equipment and collaborate on best practices used by Dominion Energy and peer companies.