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Ohio Edison Utilizes EMFW for Customer Service

By Brent Wehry, P.E. and
Jason G. Steele

Ohio Edison

"[EMFW] is increasingly being used as a customer service tool..."


With electric utilities in the process of deregulation, they must concentrate on service oriented activities that provide added value and services to customers. Ohio Edison utilizes EMWorkstation for providing superior value when it comes to electric and magnetic fields (EMFs). Although EMFWorkstation has enabled Ohio Edison to respond rapidly and accurately to regulatory agencies and local government officials interested in EMFs created by new electric facilities, it is increasingly being used as a customer service tool for providing interested customers with projected peak and typical values for use in comparisons with magnetic field exposures within the home. The combination of an increasing environmental awareness and a health conscious society create a need to address the EMF issue in a clear and accurate manner that puts customer's everyday risks into perspective.

With open land areas becoming more sparse, especially in metropolitan areas, land developers are using the open spaces near transmission lines. Sometimes this raises questions as to whether the EMFs from our electrical facilities will affect the normal operation of equipment inside commercial and residential buildings. Residential developers are using economical building technologies to replace lumber with steel. Ohio Edison has used SUBCALC and EXPOCALC to determine that these type of homes will typically satisfy the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) requirements paragraph 232C.1.c.

The company has encountered situations where commercial and industrial customers inquire whether it is normal, and ultimately safe, to receive static electricity given off from the build-up of electrical charges on trucks, tractor trailers and loading equipment when parked and operated under high voltage transmission lines.

The company has also received inquiries from residential customers who experience similar situations when parking their cars under transmission lines. In both cases, EXPOCALC enabled Ohio Edison to determine that these situations usually comply with the NESC requirements.

Ohio Edison's residential EMF measurement program (REMP), in conjunction with the SUBCALC program, allows the company to provide customers with a comparison of calculated typical and maximum magnetic field exposure levels expected from our electrical facilities to the values generated by typical household appliances. This comparison facilitates the learning process and helps customers understand the complex nature and sources of magnetic fields in their everyday lives.

SUBCALC is used increasingly for inquiries from customers who are experiencing magnetic field interference problems with their computer monitors. This typically occurs when magnetic fields surrounding computer monitors exceed 10 milligauss.

In a case study with a local bank, the use of SUBCALC allowed the significant magnetic field sources to be modeled for determining areas within the building least likely to cause interference.

For this case, SUBCALC was used to model the magnetic field levels from the existing service entrance cable. In some cases, customers can rearrange office furniture to avoid the interfering magnetic field sources. In this case, where our facilities were the primary source of magnetic fields and the customer could not relocate nor rearrange their computer equipment, we reconfigured our facilities to reduce magnetic field interference. SUBCALC enabled us to examine the different options available for determining the reconfiguration of our facilities. Reconfiguring from an open wire, three-phase service entrance, to a twisted quadraplexed service entrance cable, enabled us to reduce the magnetic field to levels necessary to minimize the interference.

The EMFWorkstation programs have proved to be helpful in allowing Ohio Edison to respond quickly and accurately to customers who have questions about EMFs. This customer service will continue to add value to the increasing services expected by today's demanding consumer.

 

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