Case Study: Fiberglass Beams Bring Reliable Power to the People

0508-FeederBeamsWhen squirrels run across transformer arms, they can ground out the transformer causing a power outage to customers. Replacement and repair can cost up to $3,000 per power failure incident. A power outage is an unacceptable inconvenience to customers from the point of view of the Alabama Power Company. They are especially concerned about areas in the state with high squirrel populations. Supervising Engineering, Alton L. Comans, and Senior Designer, Richard Adams, are experimenting with a solution that could virtually eliminate the costly problem.

Product: Fiberglass Feeder Beams and Bus Support Beams
Process: Pultrusion
Materials: EXTREN® Series 525 fiberglass reinforced polyester, fire retardant, polyurethane coated
Sizes: 4" x 1/4" x 4' Square tube
For: J. M. Tull Metals Co.
User: Alabama Power Company

“We are using fiberglass feeder beams and bus support beams instead of galvanized steel on transformer units in areas which have high squirrel populations,” said Richard Adams. “The fiberglass beams, though not grounded, act as an insulator and so far the idea seems to be working. As far as we know there have not been any power outages caused by squirrels in these areas.”

The program has been underway for about a year now and if it continues to succeed, the steel cross arms on transformers across the state, in troubled areas, will be replaced with EXTREN® Series 525 fiberglass square tube. The fiberglass cross arms are supplied with a polyurethane coating to enhance their weatherability. As shown in the photo, 4" lengths of EXTREN® square tube are inserted into the ends of the fiberglass cross arms to prevent small animals and birds from building nests inside the hollow fiberglass cross arms.

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