Heat Affects TID Operations

David Fransen

The ongoing heatwave has impacted the Turlock Irrigation District's operations, driving up the demand for electricity and irrigation water while disrupting several transformers.

In the past week, the excessive heat has caused four overhead transformers and two subsurface transformers to overheat and shut down, TID Service Division Supervisor Mark Pickens said.

“They will burn up inside,” Pickens said. “It will get so hot that they actually burn up and they won't work anymore.”

Heat damages the insulation. Once damaged a short can occur, throwing the transformer offline.

None of the six transformers were completely destroyed in last week's overheatings. But this week could be even worse, with warm evening temperatures preventing transformers from cooling at night.

“It really wasn't too bad,” Pickens said.

The heat wave is not expected to lift any time soon. According to TID utility analyst Jason Carkeet, district forecasts indicate 100-plus degree days for the next 9 days. The temperatures are 20 degrees – or more – higher than average temperatures for this time of the year.

“It just underscores the extremity of this heat wave.” Carkeet said.

And the forecast also calls for high humidity – or even light precipitation – in the coming days. The odd weather could have California feeling like swampy Florida.

Electricity demand in this most recent heat wave has yet to crest the year's high point, set June 8, a 105 degree day. But it came close on Thursday, when TID consumers used 538 megawatts of electricity on a 95 degree day.

TID water users, too, have started to use more irrigation water as the temperatures rise. June 27 saw 432 irrigation water orders placed with TID – one of the highest volume days of the year. More orders were placed last week than the same week saw in the last 10 years.

On Tuesday, the TID Board of Directors also:
• Approved paying $8.5 million to Pacific Gas & Electric, part of an unpaid bill to construct a gas pipeline which serves the district's new Almond 2 Power Plant, in Crows Landing. TID paid $22 million of the pipeline's $33 million cost up-front, with the remainder to be paid through natural gas usage.
TID's actual gas usage was less than expected in the first year of the pipeline's operation, leading to the $8.5 million payment. The money may be repaid by PG&E in the future, should gas utilization increase.
• Continued the process to create a new pump district near Hilmar, to be known as the Maciel-Peterson Pump.
• Held a public hearing to form a new improvement district near Waring Road in Denair, to be known as the Lucerne Joint Pipeline. The pipeline would serve 23 parcels, comprising 450.77 acres.
• In closed session, discussed labor contracts with the Turlock Irrigation District Employees' Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The IBEW has been without a contract since December 2011; the labor dispute led to a 45 hour electricity outage for 49 TID customers in September 2012, when IBEW workers declined to fix the issue, then interfered with other work crews.
• Discussed a case of anticipated litigation in closed session.

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