Equipment Loan champion retires

Western is pleased to recognize Darrel Iverson of the University of North Dakota You are leaving Western's site. as a pioneer in the use of infrared, or IR, thermography in the early detection and prevention of electric power system problems.

University of North Dakota Electrician Darrel Iverson shows off the Competitive Edge award he received from Western's Energy Services in 2003. Iverson is retiring in January.
University of North Dakota Electrician Darrel Iverson shows off the Competitive Edge award he received from Western’s Energy Services in 2003. Iverson is retiring in January.

First in line
Iverson, who retires in January as an electrician with UND Facilities Management, began using the IR cameras at the university nearly three decades ago to improve the reliability of its power distribution system. Customer Service Representative Jim Bach of Western’s Upper Great Plains regional office first introduced Iverson to the Equipment Loan Program in 1986. “The first time we saw an IR camera, we weren’t sure what to do with it,” recalled Iverson. “Then Western held a training class in Sioux City, Iowa.”

The facilities electrician quickly recognized the technology’s potential and became a member of the “First Dozen” club—customers who were among the first to borrow from the Equipment Loan Program. “As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to an electrical system, the IR camera is a godsend,” Iverson declared. “If you are not doing IR inspections, you are not taking care of your system.”

Problem solver
Iverson continued to keep up with the changing technology, from early cameras that filled two large suitcase-sized shipping boxes with necessary accessories to today’s thumb-sized cameras that attach to smart phones.

Throughout the years, each time Iverson borrowed a cameras from Western, he kept refining his inspection technique to protect his crew and the equipment. “One of the great things about the Equipment Loan Program is that every time Western got a new camera, I got to learn about new technology and share that with coworkers,” he said.

Equipment Loan Manager Gary Hoffmann recalled one particularly ingenious solution to inspecting the confined spaces of underground vaults and tunnels. “Checking electrical distribution systems in those places is potentially hazardous for workers because of the dangers of toxic fumes, flooding or fires,” said Hoffmann.

Iverson created a version of a bucket camera by mounting an infrared camera with a remote control inside a bucket with a hole in it for the lens. After testing the spaces to be inspected for toxic fumes that could cause an explosion, the inspector lowered the camera into the space by a rope tied to the bucket handle. The improvised rigging allowed the inspector to take pictures of vaults and tunnels without having to physically enter them.

“Darrel told me once that he tied the other end of the rope around his back and shoulder. If he accidently dropped the camera into the vault, he wanted the rope to pull him in with it,” said Hoffmann. “That way, he wouldn’t have to explain to us how he smashed our camera.”

Iverson often provided Energy Services with copies of reports on potential problems to share with other Western customers so that they could learn from his experiences. His desire to educate led him to persuade the university to sponsor one of Western’s infrared training workshops in Grand Forks in 2011. The utility representatives who attended the workshop learned a great deal about the uses of IR cameras and inspection techniques from Iverson’s extensive experience.

In 2003, the Energy Services program recognized his dedication with Western’s Competitive Edge award for commitment to specific energy-efficiency or renewable energy projects or programs.

Iverson has worked with many Equipment Loan managers—Gary Hoffmann, Rich Burnkrant, Jim Bach—and, “They have all been great to work with,” he said.

The Energy Services staff feels the same way about Iverson. He was a true ambassador for the Energy Services program and for best practices in energy use. We have enjoyed working with him and learning from him with each loan. Darrel Iverson is the kind of person who makes us look forward to doing our jobs every day.

Free webinar explores grid reliability impacts on tribal renewable projects

July 25
11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. MDT

Join the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, DOE Tribal Energy Program and Western’s Renewables Program July 25 for the free webinar, Grid Reliability – Impacts to Tribal Renewable Projects.  

Compliance with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s Redirecting to a non-government site (NERC) reliability standards became mandatory in 2008, raising the importance of compliance programs throughout the electric industry and exposing noncompliant entities to monetary sanctions. This webinar provides an overview of the purpose and organization of a compliance program, what parts of the bulk electric system the program covers, the range of reliability standards affecting power operations and maintenance, responsible registered entities and how reliability requirements can impact tribal renewable projects.

This is the seventh webinar in the Tribal Energy Self-sufficiency series covering such topics and tribal renewable development opportunities, transmission policy, the future of the transmission grid, details about NERC compliance and how to  request transmission service.  The final webinar, DOE Office of Indian Energy’s START Program Status Updates, is scheduled for Sept. 26, 2012. Presentations from past webinars are available in Western’s Renewables Program webcast library.   

This event is free, but space is limited and registration Redirecting to a non-government site is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

DOE Tribal Webinar Series Presents Today’s Energy Supply, Yesterday’s Grid

 May 30, 2012
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. MDT

Utilities’ generation portfolios are changing—often faster than the infrastructure that supports it—and power providers now face the challenge of integrating new generation and demand (load) response technologies into a grid that was designed to operate a different way. Western, the U.S. DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs and the DOE Tribal Energy Program invite tribal utility managers and resource engineers to Today’s Energy Supply – Yesterday’s Grid, a free, informative webinar May 30 to explore strategies for meeting these demands.

Speakers include experts from the DOE Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research and the Western Grid Group. Presentations will cover:

  1. Key findings in the MIT Energy Initiative Report on the changes needed in the US Grid to handle expected challenges such as the influx of electric cars and wind and solar generation
  2. Western Grid Group’s Clean Energy Vision Project, which charts a sustained, orderly transition from the carbon intensive electricity system of today to a cleaner, smarter and healthier electricity system of the future.

There is no charge to attend the webinar, however you must register to participate.