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Electrical Engineering Consulting

Managing the electrical needs of your community can lead to a lot of questions.

Where are the weak spots in our grid?

Will our substation be able to handle future needs?

How can we manage our resources better?

Your questions need answers and, if you are like most municipal utilities, you don’t have that type of experience on your team. That is where Forster comes in. Our experienced team of engineers has seen it all. We listen to your concerns and tap into our knowledge pool to find the best solution for your community.

A typical system review includes an analysis of existing conditions (i.e., a physical checkup) of an electrical system. Capacity, loading, and the condition of each major component of the distribution system are examined. Operation and construction concerns are discussed. The review will outline known system deficiencies and may require follow-up with one or all of the following items.

Reliable distribution system planning allows for any one component of a system to be removed from service at a time of peak load. The ability to transfer loads under each contingency is examined to identify constraints and to prioritize construction recommendations. A switching procedure can be prepared for utility personnel to use when switching equipment in and out of service for scheduled maintenance.

A long range plan begins with the end result in mind. A ten-year plan will help to confidently plan for the next two years. Load forecasting, locations of potential growth, the age and condition of equipment, and capacity limitations identified in the contingency planning are used to identify what and when future construction is anticipated. With the goal of keeping rates competitive, decisions regarding the maintenance, replacement, and addition of equipment items are more easily scrutinized. Long range plans are periodically reviewed during the ten-year period and activity is documented for potential updating of the plan.

Recommended construction is prioritized by highest impact, greatest need, and affordability. A two- to three–year construction budget and cash flow analysis will help determine borrowing or rate impacts. Supporting documentation can be used to submit applications, when regulatory approval is required, and to begin the design phase when project approval is accomplished.

There is often more than one good way to accomplish the same thing. When considering potential solutions, alternate plans may be identified and outlined (with a cost estimate of each plan) to meet the immediate and future needs of a system. Some plans may involve a combination of transmission and distribution construction, which will require planning and collaboration with other utilities. The cost/benefit ratio of each plan is considered and compared. Based on estimated cost and value received, a recommended best value plan will be selected, affected parties will reach a consensus, and the recommended plan will be accepted or revised accordingly.

An equipment maintenance plan will include documentation of the major equipment and controls on a distribution system, and instruction and maintenance manuals for each item. A recommended maintenance schedule will outline the testing and routine maintenance work that should periodically be performed to extend the life and performance of your electrical system.

All equipment has a useful lifespan. Many utilities do not have an effective management process for planning the retirement and replacement of assets. Our review will catalog everything that helps keep the power flowing. We will evaluate the age of the equipment and make recommendations for timely replacement.

Load flow and voltage drop studies are instrumental in the planning, design, and operation of distribution systems. Power flow under normal and contingency conditions will help determine overloading of electrical components and system deficiencies in order to provide a systematic plan for yearly construction to meet the growing needs of your system.

Computer modeling is used to apply power factor correction with harmonic analysis. A system modeled on a computer is keystrokes away from information on short circuit analysis, fuse/relay coordination, load flow analysis, voltage drop analysis, motor starting analysis, and harmonic analysis. With modeling software available in your office for system updates, we will remain available to assist you in use of the software.

Forster’s electrical engineering consulting services will provide calculations to determine the interrupting capabilities of service entrance equipment. Other short circuit calculations, essential in order to establish minimum and maximum available fault levels on your electrical system, will aid in setting the protective devices for optimum protection.

In a situation where a fuse clears or a breaker trips, a strategy may be required to maximize the performance of an electrical system by minimizing the outage area affected under these conditions.

An arc hazard evaluation is critical in order to determine the personal protective equipment and safety procedures required to meet regulatory requirements. This assessment establishes the required protective equipment for personnel working near energized equipment for electrical systems ranging from 480 volts up to transmission voltage levels. Equipment labeling required in accordance with NEC IEEE 1584 and NFPA 70E can be accomplished for industrial applications.

This analysis will determine the voltage dip impact on electrical systems, using a computerized simulation program to accurately analyze all aspects of motor starting issues associated with loads such as irrigation pumps, large oil pipeline pump motors, blowers, and compressors. Various motor starter types are available to optimize the starter type to the applied electrical system.

Contact us today to learn how Forster can help you.