GVEA Purchases the World’s First Eco-friendly 145kV Vacuum Circuit Breakers

GVEA's 145 Kilovolt (kV) vacuum circuit breakersGolden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) is excited to announce the purchase of the world’s first commercially available environmentally friendly 145 Kilovolt (kV) vacuum circuit breakers. Next summer, three of the innovative circuit breakers will be installed at GVEA substations in Interior Alaska.

Manufactured by Meiden America Switchgear, Inc., a subsidiary of Meidensha Corporation of Japan, these circuit breakers are unique because of their environmentally friendly classification and minimal maintenance requirements, resulting in reduced operational costs. The air insulated vacuum breakers are free of greenhouse-gases, and they require less electric heat during the winter and less maintenance than traditional gas or oil insulated breakers.

The 3 145kV vacuum circuit breakers that GVEA will be installing are the first air vacuum circuit breakers of this size to be purchased in the world. Vacuum circuit breaker technology is not new to GVEA. In 2012, GVEA installed a 69kV air insulated vacuum breaker and has since installed 24 more; all of which have performed exceptionally well in Alaska’s extreme conditions.

“GVEA has been sourcing environmentally sustainable circuit breakers for many years,” said John Burns, GVEA President/CEO. “GVEA is committed to consistently pursuing technologies that will enable us to achieve efficiencies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Circuit breakers are essential components of transmission substations. They switch generating and transmission circuits in and out of service and interrupt line or equipment faults when they occur, protecting GVEA’s equipment and personnel.

Benefits of air insulated vacuum breakers include:

  • Reduced greenhouse gas equivalent to about 1000 tons of carbon dioxide – This is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted annually by about 200 passenger vehicles
  • Reduced power consumption, leading to further cost and greenhouse gas reductions
  • Cost savings due to reduced maintenance and operations requirements
  • Ability to refill insulating air without de-energizing the breaker, eliminating costly switching operations, reduces interruptions to electric service to members, and reduces the number of unexpected power plant shutdowns
  • Increased up time for power plants and substations

Global demand for high voltage environmentally friendly vacuum circuit breakers is increasing rapidly as utilities choose to replace aging equipment with reliable and environmentally sustainable options. GVEA is excited to be leading this charge while working towards the Carbon Reduction Goal set by GVEA’s Board of Directors in 2019.

Golden Valley Electric Association serves over 100,000 residents in Interior Alaska. The cooperative’s mission is to safely provide members with reliable electric service, quality customer service and innovative energy solutions at fair and reasonable prices.