EPA Recognizes Partner Companies for Global Climate Protection Efforts
EPA has recognized four partners for success in achieving effective strategies for reductions of SF6 and for sharing information on the environmental and economic benefits. Commonwealth Edison Company, Consolidated Edison of New York, ITC Holdings Corp, and MidAmerican Company received the awards at the 2012 Workshop on SF6 Emission Reduction Strategies, held April 17 and 18, 2012, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Organizational Leadership: Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) of Chicago, IL
The recipient of the organizational leadership award is Commonwealth Edison of Chicago, Illinois. Largely through the efforts of ComEd’s Transmission & Substation and Environmental Service groups, ComEd has implemented a successful SF6 management program. This program has included:
- Enhancing of the reporting and notification process associated with emissions by raising awareness and visibility of SF6 releases and the associated environmental impact.
- Purchasing leak detection cameras and implementing a winter-readiness program that proactively scans equipment for leaks during seasonal fluctuations.
- Purchasing additional gas reclaiming carts and implementing a program to properly capture gas during maintenance and repairs, which enables crews to minimize gas and productivity losses by having the equipment available within each region.
- Phasing out “First Generation” older equipment that were prone to SF6 leaks.
ComEd has also rewarded the efforts made by employees to reduce SF6 emissions by embedding the achievement of SF6 emission reduction goals into ComEd’s compensation program. These actions have corresponded with a significant reduction in SF6 emissions reported by ComEd in recent years relative to its 1999 baseline emissions.
Organizational Leadership: MidAmerican Energy Company of Des Moines, IA
In 2002, MidAmerican Energy initiated an effort to identify and replace the circuit breakers most responsible for emitting SF6 into the atmosphere. Twenty-five breakers were initially identified, and all 25 were replaced between 2002 and 2011, with the highest emitting breakers replaced first.
MidAmerican Energy has also adopted new gas handling procedures, which include monthly reviews of usage logs and more detailed emission reports to management. And in 2010, MidAmerican Energy implemented a plan to better control the handling of emissions by ensuring that all SF6 would be purchased, inventoried, and installed by MidAmerican Energy’s trained personnel.
These actions have corresponded with a significant reduction in SF6 emissions reported by MidAmerican Energy relative to its 2004 baseline emissions.
Team Leadership: ITC Holdings Corp. of Novi, Michigan
The recipient of the Team Leadership award is the SF6 management team of ITC Holdings Corp., based in Novi, Michigan. The SF6 management team is led by Jon Jipping, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. In recent years, the team has implemented a comprehensive SF6 management and equipment replacement program. This program has included:
- The development of procedures and work practices through its Environmental Management System to ensure the consistent control, measurement, and reporting of SF6 emissions company-wide;
- The recent purchase of two leak detection cameras to facilitate the detection of SF6 leaks;
- The purchase of 12 gas carts to increase maintenance efficiency and reduce emissions during equipment maintenance and replacement activities;
- And lastly, the replacement of SF6 circuit breakers and other gas insulated switchgear that had recurring SF6 leaks.
These actions have corresponded with a significant reduction in SF6 emissions reported by ITC in recent years relative to its 2005 baseline emissions.
Technical Innovation: Consolidated Edison Company of New York (ConEd) in New York, NY
The recipient of the Best Technological Advancement Award is Consolidated Edison Company of New York for its innovative use of ultrasonic probes to detect SF6 leaks. Using the UE Systems Ultraprobe 10,000, with the addition of a unique liquid leak amplifier spray, the company has been able to detect very small SF6 leaks that it has been unable to identify through conventional means such as sniffers, bubble sprays, and gas cameras.
While this technology was originally developed for the detection of leaks in a vacuum chamber, with some minor modification and training ConEd’s employees have successfully used it for SF6 leak detection. The process begins when a piece of equipment is suspected to have a microscopic leak. The liquid leak amplifier is sprayed onto the equipment where the leak is thought to be located. The unique formulation of the amplifier forms a thin film on the equipment, upon which the leaking gas must pass through before escaping to atmosphere. The escaping gas produces small bubbles in the liquid film, which burst with a “soda-like” effect. The bursting of these bubbles produces low-decibel sound waves that are heard as a crackling effect through the Ultraprobes’ headphones. After hearing the sound from bubbles crackling, the employee doing the inspection knows to mark the location for leak repair.
The application of this technology was particularly effective on a 35-year old mini-bus in an outdoor environment, which had welded aluminum connections that were prone to become porous with tiny pinholes during extremely cold conditions.
The company noted that since 2009 when it first started using the Ultraprobe for ultrasonic leak detection, its SF6 emissions have decreased by approximately 55%.