S&C Electric upgrades distribution grid for university in New Mexico

S&C Electric Co. completed a high-speed fault-clearing system at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, N.M., as part of the university's plan to improve power reliability and reduce power outages.

S&C worked with TME Inc. Consulting Engineers-Energy Services to develop a solution using S&C's 15-kV Remote Supervisory Vista Underground Distribution Switchgear and advanced relays that detects and isolates underground distribution faults within a fraction of a second.

Prior to the project, ENMU's 30-year-old, 4160-volt distribution system experienced numerous prolonged outages resulting in the partial or full closure of the campus. As a result, the university replaced more than 3,750 feet of 5 kV underground electrical cable with new 15 kV cable. They also decided to use smart grid technology to improve its power system, ensuring better reliability throughout the campus' education, dormitory and recreational facilities in the event of a fault.

TME Inc., in collaboration with S&C, engineered a looped distribution system that leverages two separate sources feeding the campus. Within the loops, nine pieces of S&C's Vista switchgear and two units of System VI Switchgear communicate with each other to detect faults on the underground distribution system. In most cases, if a fault is detected, the switchgear isolates the fault and reroutes power within a fraction of a second to keep ENMU's facilities running. S&C also engineered and integrated a tool that allows ENMU's facility personnel to view the status of the system in real time and control it when necessary.

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