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CONSUMERS POWER IMPROVES ELECTRIC SERVICE WITH GULF WAR TECHNOLOGY

 JACKSON, Mich., Nov. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Power Company has made use of infrared technology tested during the Gulf War to improve the reliability of electric service to customers located throughout Michigan's Lower Peninsula.
 During 1993, approximately 100 locations of deteriorated equipment on transmission lines have been identified by this technology and corrected. It is estimated that infrared technology has saved Consumers Power customers hundreds of thousands of dollars -- and perhaps millions -- by catching electric line transmission problems before they fail and force service outages.
 The infrared technology utilizes a special camera mounted on one of two patrol helicopters owned and operated by Consumers Power. These helicopters, located in Jackson and Traverse City, are used daily to identify any defects or damages to the utility's electric transmission system. Consumers Power veteran helicopter pilot Carl Boylan, a former military pilot, became aware of the technology's availability and alerted his co-workers.
 "Our electric customers have strongly benefited by this innovative technology, first used to detect enemy troop movement during the Gulf War," said David V. Voigt, the utility's vice president for electric transmission. "While exact savings to customers are difficult to estimate, we know for a fact that infrared technology has alerted us to weaknesses in the transmission system which, uncorrected, would have developed into an outage problem. This technology has also enabled us to work more safely, and reduce maintenance costs to our customers," said Voigt.
 Consumers Power used the infrared technology this past summer to survey 4,000 miles of sub-transmission lines, which operate at 46,000 volts. This portion of the 8,500-mile transmission system was selected because any deterioration discovered and corrected would have the greatest impact on reducing customer outage minutes.
 Thermographic images taken by the infrared camera were displayed on a video screen and recorded by equipment located in the helicopter. Cool registers as black on the screen, while heat appears white. Defects in the transmission lines, such as deteriorated splices, worn or loose connections, or defective switches, could be seen on the screen by their white appearance on the black-and-white picture. A Consumers Power line worker in the helicopter provides a recorded narrative of the exact location and description of every defect which is identified.
 The infrared technology is called Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) and is designed by FLIR Systems of Portland, Ore. Tapes of the survey were analyzed by HOT SHOT, a Denver-based infrared inspection service, to more accurately identify the most critical problems.
 Consumers Power Company, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy Corporation (NYSE: CMS), is Michigan's largest natural gas and electric utility serving 6 million of the state's 9 1/2 million residents in 67 of the 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
 -0- 11/22/93
 /CONTACT: Charles E. MacInnis, News and Information of Consumers Power, 517-788-0333/
 (CMS)


CO: Consumers Power Company; FLIR Systems ST: Michigan IN: UTI SU:

SB -- DE013 -- 6796 11/22/93 11:24 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 22, 1993
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