At MidAmerican Energy Company, being obsessively, relentlessly at your service also means investing in our energy infrastructure so we can provide safe and reliable service to our customers each and every day. That’s why we have a companywide initiative, called Safety Through Asset Reliability, or STAR, to help us make sure we maintain and update our electric and natural gas delivery systems.
STAR begins with strategic planning. Our teams analyze and invest in MidAmerican Energy systems and equipment to deliver the energy you need, whenever you need it, and to ensure our systems run safely, reliably and cost-effectively. Throughout the year, we inspect and maintain our electric and natural gas distribution systems so they deliver energy that’s always there and always safe.
MidAmerican Energy serves 783,000 electric customers in Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota. We oversee more than 29,000 miles of power lines, over 700,000 utility poles, as well as circuits, connections and control systems to keep everything on for our customers.
We work hard to update and improve those systems to enhance reliability for our customers.
We recently added hundreds of smart sensors to electric lines, which helps us restore service more quickly if an outage occurs. The small electronic sensors, called remote fault indicators, attach to power lines. The devices instantly transmit precise outage and location details to MidAmerican Energy control room operators if the sensors detect a service interruption.
Throughout the year, we inspect and proactively replace utility poles throughout our service territory. That’s in addition to replacing poles damaged by vehicle crashes, weather events or other circumstances.
Utility Pole Replacement
As part of a two-year project in Iowa, we’re currently replacing more than 500 miles of overhead lines in our rural electric distribution system, including more than 12,000 poles.
Substation Animal Protection
In 2019, we plan to fortify six electric substations with equipment designed to protect them from outages caused by wildlife. And that’s in addition to two dozen substations we’ve already fortified over the past two years.
When animals, including squirrels, raccoons or birds, come into contact with a substation, it can lead to a widespread and costly outage – not to mention that it’s deadly to animals. That’s why we’re installing fitted covers to shield exposed substation components from animal contact. We’ll make our system more reliable by protecting these substations from animal contact and outages, while also protecting wildlife.
Trees and tree branches that come into contact with power lines cause a significant number of brief and prolonged outages. That’s why we have a routine maintenance program that balances the importance of trees with the need to protect power lines. Our vegetation management program uses science-based pruning practices to minimize negative impacts to a tree’s health, tree removal, tree replacement programs and the proper use of herbicides. MidAmerican Energy employs a professional staff of arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) to manage our line clearance program.
MidAmerican Energy serves 765,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. We safely operate 13,420 miles of natural gas systems, including 12,720 miles of natural gas distribution lines and equipment.
While most natural gas lines are underground and out of sight, they’re not out of mind at MidAmerican Energy. We’ve spent decades evaluating our natural gas delivery system infrastructure and strategically investing in upgrades, which is what we continue to do today. These upgrades help ensure safe and reliable natural gas service anytime you need it.
Cast Iron Pipeline Replacement
Since the late 1800s, cast iron and wrought iron were the materials of choice for the nation’s energy pipelines, and cast iron pipes still safely deliver natural gas today in many areas of the country. Over the course of several decades, we replaced our entire cast iron pipeline infrastructure, completing the project in 2014.
Natural Gas Distribution System Upgrades
Over the course of several decades, we have also replaced most of our older low-pressure natural gas distribution systems with more modern intermediate-pressure distribution systems. The intermediate-pressure distribution systems include regulators at each customer’s gas meter to ensure gas is delivered to homes and businesses at reduced pressure, which enhances safety. We have begun a five-year plan to upgrade the remaining low-pressure systems in Iowa City and the Quad Cities.
Replacement of Meter, Regulator and Odorant Systems
As technology advances, we are continually replacing legacy equipment that measures and controls natural gas flow and pressure, including regulator stations and gas meters, as well as equipment that delivers the familiar rotten egg smell to odorless natural gas, to enhance safety.