Consultant: IPL's downtown network needs closer eye

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A Georgia consulting firm hired by state utility regulators to investigate five explosions in Indianapolis Power & Light’s downtown underground network recommends that IPL do a better job of finding and documenting equipment failure.

Overall, however, Atlanta-based O’Neill Management Consulting LLC called IPL’s downtown network “well designed and regularly maintained.”

“Notwithstanding a higher incidence of recent events … the risk to the citizens of, and visitors to, Indianapolis has historically been low; lower in fact than in many other major cities,” the report said.

The report may do little to calm nerves after explosions in recent years that sent manhole covers flying, including one that damaged a car parked atop an underground electrical vault this fall.

IPL’s flying manhole covers also have alarmed city leaders preparing for the Super Bowl in February, when streets will be packed with visitors. IPL recently installed 100 blast-resistent covers to reduce odds of injuries should another explosion occur.

O’Neill recommend IPL put an “immediate emphasis” on addressing leaks in steam lines operated by Citizens Energy Group that are in close proximity to underground electrical equipment.

The consulting firm also recommended that IPL consider changing design of equipment used and standards specified for maintenance and construction. For example, it suggested IPL find alternative ways to terminate primary power cables into network transformers, where some of the failures have occurred in recent years.

Without making such changes, IPL can probably expect three  to five such incidents a year, O’Neill wrote in its report released Tuesday by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

IPL responded that it had made a number of inspections in recent months and notified Citizens of potential problems with its steam lines.

The IURC plans a public hearing on the report on Dec. 19 at its headquarters downtown.

IPL’s downtown underground system had three explosions in 2010, and a handful of others in previous years.

Former IPL executive Dwane Ingalls warned several years ago that cost-cutting following IPL’s acquisition by AES Corp. in 2001 amounted to maintenance deferral that likely would result in increasing problems in the future. 

It’s unclear whether IPL changed its underground maintenance practices following its acquisition but Ingalls was proved prophetic about the increase in explosions.









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  1. Now if he'd just stay there...

  2. Daniel - what about the many US citizens who do NOT follow what the Bible teaches? The Hindus, Jews, Muslims and others who are all American citizens entitled to all rights as Americans?? This issue has NOTHING to do with "What the Bible says..." Keep all Churches separate from State! Pence's ongoing idiocy continues to make Indiana look like a backwards, homophobic state in the eyes of our nation. Can't we move on to bigger issues - like educating our kids?

  3. 1. IBJ should link to the referenced report. We are in the age of electronic media...not sharing information is lazy. Here is a link http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Blue_Ribbon_Panel_Report_July_9_2014.pdf 2. The article should provide more clarity about the make-up of this panel. The commenters are making this item out to be partisan, it does not appear the panel is partisan. Here is a list of the panel which appears to be balanced with different SME to add different perspectives http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=138116?formation_id=189603 3. It suggests a by-pass, I do not see where this report suggests another "loop". 4. Henry, based on your kneejerk reaction, we would be better off if you moved to another state unless your post was meant as sarcasm in which case I say Well Done. 5. The article and report actually indicates need to improve rail and port infrastructure in direct contradiction to Shayla commentary. Specifically, recommendation is to consider passenger rail projects... 6. People have a voice with their elected officials. These are suggestions and do not represent "crony capitalism", etc. The report needs to be analyzed and the legislature can decide on priorities and spending. Don't like it, then vote in a new legislature but quit artificially creating issues where there are none! People need to sift through the politics and provide constructive criticism to the process rather than making uninformed comments in a public forum based on misinformation. IBJ should work harder to correct the record in these forums when blatant errors or misrepresentations are made.

  4. Joe ... Marriage is defined in the Bible ... it is mentioned in the Bible often. Marriage is not mentioned once in the US or Indiana Constitution ...

  5. Daniel - Educate me please: what does the Bible have to do with laws? If the government wasn't in the business of marriage to begin with, then it wouldn't have to "define" marriage at all. Marriage could be left as a personal, religious, or otherwise unregulated action, with no ties to taxes, legal status, etc. Then people could marry whomever they want, and all this silliness would go away. Remember to vote Libertarian in November.