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High energy at a high altitude: electric transmission linemen conduct “barehand” training on 500kV line

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Electric
SDG&E electric transmission lineman Todd Godger is about to make contact with the energized high voltage line during barehand training

This past week, a specialized group of SDG&E electric transmission linemen participated in the company’s live line barehand training, which was conducted on one of the towers of the 500kV Southwest Powerlink near Miguel Substation in Chula Vista.  No hot sticks for these trained few; these linemen make direct contact with the line by placing themselves at the same electrical potential as the line.

“Barehanding” is a safe technique trained transmission linemen use to work on high-voltage power lines, while attached to a fully energized conductor.  The technique is used to perform necessary maintenance, such as replacing insulators, and connecting hardware, spacers and conductors on the transmission lines. 

It’s also more efficient, as barehanding allows linemen to have full control of their hands rather than using 19-foot hot stick, shortening the time to complete the work in half. 

“By keeping our employees on the cutting edge of work methods and training to do their jobs, we continue to increase the reliability we provide to our customers,” SDG&E’s vice president of electric operations Dave Geier.  While barehanding is a dramatic thing to witness, it is a safe technique.  Thank you to our crews who are committed to safety as they conduct this live line barehand work.”

Linemen Todd Godger and Walter Franklin simulate replacing an insulator string on a 500 kV transmission line during barehand training

SDG&E received a variance from Cal-OSHA in 2007 to perform this technique, and is still one of a small number of utilities nationwide to conduct this training.  By performing this live wire maintenance on our highest voltage transmission lines, we eliminate the need to take facilities out of service during maintenance.

With the new Sunrise Powerlink transmission line, SDG&E now has twice the amount of high voltage 500kV transmission lines where we can use this technique to perform necessary maintenance.

Photos:
SDG&E electric transmission lineman Todd Godger is about to make contact with the energized high voltage line during barehand training
SDG&E electric transmission lineman Todd Godger is about to make contact with the energized high voltage line during barehand training
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Linemen Todd Godger and Walter Franklin simulate replacing an insulator string on a 500 kV transmission line during barehand training
Linemen Todd Godger and Walter Franklin simulate replacing an insulator string on a 500 kV transmission line during barehand training
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Videos:
SDG&E Crews "Barehand" Training
SDGE, a Sempra Energy Utility