New fiber optic cable system designed to prevent power outages

GREENFIELD — To improve power distribution to government facilities and major employers throughout the city, a local utility provider is establishing a network of cables that officials say will decrease or even eliminate the possibility of electrical outages.

In the coming weeks, linemen from Greenfield Power and Light will install four miles of fiber-optic cables throughout the city. The new lines will provide a more dependable means of alerting the company of an outage than the current system, which sends a wireless signal when it detects a disruption, said Nelson Castrodale, superintendent of the local electricity provider. It also will shift more quickly to a backup source of power, officials said.

“Wireless connectivity isn’t the most reliable system because it’s subject to lightning strikes and other hazards,” Castrodale said. “Fiber’s just a much better source all around.”

The new system will be capable of detecting an outage before it happens, then switching over the source to a backup system, said Mike Fruth, director of city utilities.

“In the event of a power outage, we could be able to switch loads from one part of our system to another,” Fruth said.

Castrodale said that could mean little to no downtime for customers in the affected areas — and for large businesses, time is money.

With fiber-optic cables, an outage that might have taken crews two hours to fix can instead be rerouted through the other system in about 10 seconds, he said.

Initially, the new technology will benefit government facilities, like City Hall, and large companies that rely on ready access to electricity to operate around the clock.

In addition to the more secure connection to electricity the fiber optics provide, the new system will replace an outdated system used to monitor the city’s utilities.

Nick Riedman, information technology director for the city, will use the new network to oversee operations for other city utility providers, such as water and waste storage. He said the new technology will make for a more secure system to keep tabs on operations.

“What we had before works but wasn’t 100 percent reliable,” he said. “Sometimes we’d get storms that came through and knocked out the wireless system, so we’d lose communications when it was most critical.”

Keihin IPT, an automotive parts manufacturer that is Hancock County’s largest industrial company, will be the first outside customer to benefit from the technology, Castrodale said.

Greenfield Power and Light also is working with other area businesses that could be interested in linking up with the new network, including Hancock Regional Hospital and Indiana Automotive Fasteners.

Power outages pose a costly threat to many companies, Castrodale said.

“What we’re trying to do is eliminate any downtime at those facilities, so we can keep the meter running,” he said.

Castrodale said the fiber-optic cables are expected to be in place by end of October.

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Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or