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Southside Electric Cooperative project upgrades service to hospital

Cooperative project upgrades service to hospital

Southside Electric Cooperative (SEC) has installed, activated and tested new switching equipment in South Hill that will further enhance service provided to the hospital and other members.

Over two days in January, SEC crews, along with a representative from the manufacturer, mounted the 4,000-pound switchgear on a concrete pad, leveled, connected and tested it before putting the equipment into operation around dark on the second day, finishing a project that had been nine months in the planning. Additional successful testing was completed March 7.

Brad Furr, vice president of operations for SEC, said the new equipment fully automates the process of supplying electricity to VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital from either of the Cooperative’s Brunswick or Gary substations. Doing that previously required manual intervention by a system operator in Crewe. The equipment more readily allows the switching from one substation to the other.

“We aspired to reduce the possibility of human error when switching in the area of the VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital,” Furr said.  “The Eaton PST9 also automates the process of switching between electrical sources, speeding the process of moving the hospital between electrical sources.”

Cole Stevenson, a senior sales engineer with Eaton, said the equipment provides another redundancy for SEC in providing electricity to the hospital. That’s important in the case of a tornado or other weather problem affecting one of the substations. He said the chance of a storm hitting two substations is less.

For the Cooperative, the work strengthens its partnership with the hospital. Witness to that was that 20 SEC employees, including several senior managers, were on site for the installation and energizing.

“SEC takes its relationship with VCU Health CMH very seriously,” Furr said. “Like SEC and the service we provide, we understand the positive impact VCU hospital has on our community. We want to support that partnership to continue adding value to rural Virginia.”

Scott Burnette, the hospital’s CEO, added, “We appreciate the work Southside Electric Cooperative has completed to help assure we have the electric power we need to operate safely and efficiently. We count heavily on our community partners, like SEC, to provide the high quality of care VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital is known for.” 

Furr noted that all Cooperative members near the hospital “will realize more robust electric service” following the distribution system project. Another benefit to the new equipment, he said, is SEC will now be notified when the switchgear logs an abnormal condition.This will occur through Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), a computerized system for collecting and analyzing information.

“It is nearly as good as having someone standing next to the unit in the field,” Furr said.

VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital, a 70-bed acute care hospital, opened in November 2017. The 167,000-square-foot hospital and a separate 66,000-square-foot building for clinics, educational programs, rehabilitation services and administration primarily serve Mecklenburg, Brunswick and Lunenburg counties, but also see patients from Dinwiddie, Nottoway and Greensville counties and parts of North Carolina.

Southside Electric Cooperative, a not-for-profit, member-owned electric distribution company, has 56,000 services across 18 counties in central and southern Virginia. Headquartered in Crewe, SEC has district offices in Altavista, Crewe, Dinwiddie and Powhatan. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.