Our value is in our workforce.
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Living and Working on the Road

Our power generation maintenance crews often have to work on remote job sites. For some locations, there might not even be a hotel or restaurant for miles. Here are some tips on how our crews make the most of their time on the road:

  • Explore alternate accommodations. Trying to live off (and not exceed) the per diem allowance can be a challenge, but there is nothing more depressing than a cheap motel. A number of our crew members purchase campers and park them at local camp grounds. They make up for the cramped kitchens by grilling out as often as possible.
  • Bring your own pillow. Even after a full day’s work, it can be difficult to sleep in unfamiliar surroundings – it feels like restful sleep is almost impossible to achieve. Invest in yourself and buy a top-of-the-line pillow – it makes a difference.
  • Recharge during your free time.  Working away from home gives you time to do the things that might otherwise seem like a luxury. In other words, make the most of your surroundings and go fishing every chance you get!

 

Being away from home and family during the week can be stressful. RUS appreciates the sacrifices that our crews make to get the job done.

 

Be Ready for Snake Season

One of our hydro mechanics recently came across a banded water snake (also known as a Southern water snake). The mechanic opened the draft tube door to inspect the parking ledge for the runner – and realized he had some company in there. At RUS, we have a specific training module on snakes that is a required part of our new hire orientation. Making employees familiar with the types of snakes that are common to our work area, and teaching the crew what to do when they come across a snake, can keep a run-in from becoming a recordable.

Snakes are most active between April and October, when warm weather brings them out to mate. In the Southeast, the venomous snakes that our crews are most likely to encounter include rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths (water moccasins). And although most people don’t like snakes, the snake diet of insects and rodents makes them helpful to have around. We teach our crews that snakes are not aggressive, and will only bite if they are startled or feel threatened. But venomous or not, a bite from a snake really hurts!

These common sense precautions can make everyone safer:

1) Never pick up or attempt to move a snake.

2) If you see a snake, back away slowly; a snake’s striking distance is about half the total length of its body.

3) Wear leather gloves if you have to handle debris, lumber, rocks or other objects where a snake could be hiding.

If an employee is bitten:

1) Call the onsite emergency number (or 911) right away. If the bite is from a venomous snake, time is of the essence for administering anti-venom.

2) Remember the color and shape of the snake. These details can help medical personnel treat a bite.

3) Keep the bitten person calm, which slows the spread of poisonous venom. Have the person lay or sit still, with the bite level and below the heart. Cover the bite with a clean, dry dressing until medical personnel arrive.

Snakes should not be killed when they are found; many are protected as endangered species.  In the case of the banded water snake, it will flatten its body when it feels threatened in order to appear larger. This snake also emits a foul musk, and bites repeatedly, slashing sideways to tear the flesh of its attacker. Letting the snake have time to return to the water (which is what the RUS mechanic did) is the safest and smartest course of action for everyone.

Historic Hydropower

Susan Dunlap

Hydropower was the first large-scale renewable energy source used in the US. Many of the hydro sites where RUS works today are well over 100 years old. While we all count on the reliability of hydropower, it is easy to forget how revolutionary the idea was in 1895 to transmit generated hydropower over cable lines to homes and businesses.

We recently ran across a book called Men and Volts: The Story of General Electric, written by John Winthrop Hammond in 1941. Hammond explained that twenty-five GE motors (newly installed in 1895) drove all the spindles in the Pelzer Manufacturing Company’s Upper Mill, which was the first cotton mill in the US to use transmission cable. Captain Ellison Smythe, the mill’s owner, showed true courage to sign a contract for electric motors instead of the mechanical rope drive that his other mill’s used. The public was skeptical – and the mill hands were convinced that the scheme would never work.

“On the day the mill started operation, a kind friend approached Captain Smythe … and offered his condolences on the failure of the electrical transmission system. ‘I’ve watched those wires all day,’ he said, ‘and they haven’t moved yet.’” The story is told that mill operatives placed pails beneath the wires, in order to “to catch the electricity that fell off.”

Those same electrical motors that successfully powered Pelzer Manufacturing quickly became a hit with other industries, including “mines, shoe factories, yarn mills, tanneries, powder mills, watch factories, and even for blowing church organs.” And Smythe did not stop there – the Pelzer Manufacturing Company’s Upper Mill was the first mill in the country to use incandescent lighting.

At RUS, we know that hydropower is renewable and reliable – and we appreciate that it is also historic. Thank you to the visionaries of 1895!

Sources – Hydro Review, October 1997, and Electrical World, March 14, 1896, as found at www.reference.insulators.info. Photo credit: https://reference.insulators.info/publications/view/?id=10261

 

Setting the Tone for Safety

Susan Dunlap

How does RUS demonstrate a sincere commitment to safety? While safety policies regulate our work place, it is our actions that set the tone for safety in everything we do. RUS’s President/CEO Dan Cothran came up with a suggestion recently that sends a clear message about the company’s culture of safety.

Two RUS crew members were assigned to a welding job at a hydro facility. They needed to be re-certified in First Aid/CPR before the job started. Susan Dunlap, Director of Operations, scheduled an on-site Red Cross course for the two employees. Due to the small class size, she opened up the registration to the home office employees. When no one was free on such short notice, Dan suggested offering the course to family members (with RUS covering everyone’s training cost).

Two employees responded by enrolling their children– and that’s how Maggie and Avery came to CPR/First Aid training at Regional Utility Services. Maggie is a 26-year-old school teacher – headed off to Maryland this fall to teach high school Spanish at Barrie School. Avery is a rising sophomore who is interested in pursuing a career as an EMT.

“Their energy and enthusiasm made a great addition to our class,” said Donnie Harris, RUS welder. “And it was nice to get to know two kids who we hear so much about

at work.” After receiving her certificate, Maggie thanked RUS for providing her with the training she needed for school. “Now I have the skills I need to help someone during a crisis – at home and at school.”

RUS got the chance to demonstrate their commitment to safety – on and off the job site, at work and at home, for our employees and for our families. That’s the culture of safety that we want to always have in place.

Visit RUS at Hydrovision 2018

Susan Dunlap

Come visit Regional Utility Services at Hydrovison this summer! We’ll be in booth 531 from June 26 to June 28 at the Charlotte Convention Center. Hydrovision is the largest worldwide gathering of hydro professionals – there will be 320 exhibiting companies from around the world. RUS is proud to be a part of this amazing event!

We know how busy a trade show can be for attendees, with 60 conference sessions offered in only three days. So we invite you to visit us. The RUS booth features comfortable sofas and chairs in a relaxed setting. Stop by, put your feet up, and get to know us. If you have any questions about our services, Technical Director Jerry Moody (with his 30+ years of hydro experience) will be on hand to share his knowledge and expertise.

RUS is dedicated to ensuring the future sustainability of hydro. We have successfully completed projects for Alcoa, Duke Energy, Enel Green Power, Santee Cooper, Southern Company, TVA, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and many other hydroelectric companies across the Southeast. Our RUS hydro crews provide cost-effective solutions, from water in to water out.

Look forward to seeing you at Hydrovision 2108!

Supporting Our Local Green Spaces

RUS is pleased to support Trees Coalition, a local non-profit dedicated to removing invasive species that damage trees (like kudzu, wisteria and English ivy). Danny Elder, RUS shop manager, repaired two important pieces of donated equipment for the TC work crew. Danny is pictured here with volunteer Dr. Bob Reynolds and Trees Coalition supervisor Anthony Radziewicz, along with a newly refurbished wood chipper and bush mower.

The Trees Coalition (www.treescoalition.org) is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit group located in Spartanburg, SC that was formed to educate and inspire communities to care for their trees, especially those trees planted along our city streets and walking trails. The Trees Coalition is an expansion of the Kudzu Coalition, a group that pioneered herbicide-free kudzu removal.  The non-profit organization is a mix of volunteers and paid landscapers who train and work alongside neighborhoods, churches, schools, colleges, and businesses to provide help in caring for trees. Improvements by TC can be seen at Hatcher Gardens, Glendale Shoals, and the Mary Black Rail Trail – all green spaces that are open to the public.

Thank you to Trees Coalition for all they do for Spartanburg. RUS is excited to be a partner in their mission!

Power Generation Services – RUS Fossil Division

Regional Utility Services, Inc. (RUS) is a mechanical contractor that has been supporting the fossil Power Generation industry for over ten years.

RUS provides full project solutions for our customers during plant operations and facility outages. Our team understands the challenges that fossil power plants face to meet their operational needs, and we pride ourselves on supporting our customers with turnkey solutions.

In order to exceed client expectations, RUS employs riggers, welders, pipefitters, operators and millwrights that are considered experts in their craft.  We get the job done efficiently (whether it be outage, preventative or corrective maintenance) within the demanding power plant environment. Our crews perform their assigned tasks with a “Safety First” mindset. Additionally, RUS provides preventive inspection services to identify pre-failure conditions so that scheduling can drive maintenance.

RUS is a “Balance of Plant” service provider. Our on-site inspection, repair, installation/replacement, fabrication and technical services capabilities include, but are not limited to, the following equipment:

Feeders, Coal Crushers, Ductwork, Pulverizers, Traveling Screens, Dampers, Exhausters, Slide Gates, Pumps, Fuel (Coal) Piping, Air Dryers, Process Piping, Conveying Systems, Trash Racks, Magnetic Couplings, Coal Bunkers, Boiler Feed Pipes, PVC Piping, HDPE Piping, Bag Houses, and Air Preheaters.

Here are a couple examples of the maintenance services we provide:

Pulverizer Gearbox Rebuild Services and Fuel Pipe Installation Services

Gearbox rebuild in process.

Pipe installation in a coal processing plant.

RUS also has an off-site fabrication/rebuild facility. Our off-site fabrication and rebuild services include, but are not limited to, the following:
Fabrication: Platforms, Ladders, and Handrails

Rebuilds: Pulverizer Journals, Pulverizer Gearbox (Bushing Style), and Pumps

Note: If you don’t see a particular fabrication or rebuild service listed, please ask. We may very well have the capabilities required to perform that service.

If you are in need of a contractor to perform your fossil power generation plant maintenance, give RUS a call. It would be an honor to assist your team in maintaining your plant’s efficiency and availability at its highest possible level.

Rebuilding versus Purchasing New Equipment

Power generation companies often need to get their mills back up and running as quickly as possible, without the added complication of waiting for back-ordered equipment. Keeping spare replacement parts on hand is not always feasible, and unscheduled purchases of new equipment can take a real hit to a capital expenditure budget. It might be time for your company to consider rebuilt equipment as an efficient and affordable option. Call RUS today to see how we can help you. Click below to view the latest brochure on our journal rebuild program.

RUS Journal Rebuilds

Our Hydro-Electric Division – Preserving History

This camelback (in the RUS shop for scale removal, weld repairs, and preservation) is from one of the oldest continuously operating alternating current hydroelectric facilities in the United States. The Lower Pelzer Hydro plant was designed by Thomas Edison, and began generating power in 1895 on the Saluda River. What an honor to work on this important part of our country’s history!

The camelback is pictured post-restoration. According to Project Manager Jerry Moody, this piece of equipment is capable of performing in a hydroelectric plant for another 100 years.

RUS delivers complete solutions to the hydro industry, including major component replacements and balance of plant system maintenance. Our unique management approach ensures delivery of safe, cost-effective solutions resulting in improved plant performance and profitability for our customers.

RUS project managers deliver superior services through a hands-on approach, from the pre-bid process to the final closeout. Our team leaders provide critical oversight and reporting for our projects, and they offer value-added solutions through key partnerships with our customers. RUS is known for providing the highest quality hydro service solutions available.

HYDRO SERVICES CAPABILITIES:

1. Complete turbine inspection, replacement, and repair

2. Excitation upgrades (including collector ring inspection, replacement and repair)

3. Generator inspection, cleaning, testing (including field pole removal and replacement)

4. Head gate and head gear inspection, repair and replacement

5. Intake/outflow structures (flume lines, pen stocks, draft tubes) inspection, repair, replacement

6. Runner cavitation (stainless steel, cast iron, carbon) and flashing repair. 7. Power Plant upgrades, including demolition

If you are in need of a contractor to perform your Hydro-Electric plant maintenance (whether it be outage, preventative, or corrective), give RUS a call. It would be an honor to assist your team in maintaining your plant’s efficiency and availability at its highest possible level.

RUS grows through Waste-to-Energy

Regional Utility Services is a small business that wants to grow along with the Waste-to-Energy industry. RUS representatives Nathan Faulkner and Don Varner recently attended the 24th Annual North American Waste-to-Energy Conference in Florida. The conference focused on managing existing power generation facilities for maximum success, as well as exploring the best opportunities to develop new facilities to recover energy from waste.

While coal-fired facilities have formed the backbone of the Southeast’s power grid, the commitment to generate cleaner energy has encouraged many companies to retire older, less efficient coal-fired plants and replace them with low- or zero-emission electricity sources, including:

  • Cleaner natural gas plants
  • Increased nuclear capacity
  • Investments in renewable resources

As power generation companies continue to diversify their portfolios with alternative energy sources, Regional Utility Services wants to be a key player in the future of energy. RUS crews have a specialized skill set from their work in the fossil fields; these skills are a valuable asset in the WTE industry.

Whether a power plant is creating energy using coal or using waste, the equipment is similar: conveyor systems, boilers, dryers, bag houses, scrubbers, turbines and generators. Instead of the WTE industry spending their resources training new installation and maintenance crews, these companies can hire RUS crews that already possess the specialized skill sets to go straight to work.

“Coal processing plants have closed at a faster speed than anyone originally predicted,” said President and CEO Dan Cothran. “We have trained and experienced fossil crews on hand who can quickly and easily adapt to the equipment in the WTE field.”

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