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Chinese Delegates In Minn. To Learn 'Hot-Line' Technique From Xcel

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A delegation from China traveled to the Twin Cities to learn from Xcel Energy.

The utility company's crews do daily maintenance on power lines, and often people at home are none the wiser.

It is because crews work on "hot lines." In China, crews turn the power grid off to do repair work.

More than two dozen people from the State Grid Corporation of China spent the day in Crystal with Xcel.

"They wanted to see it to believe it," said Xcel Energy's Troy Browen.

Chinese Delegates With Xcel Energy In Minnesota
(credit: Xcel Energy)

Crews demonstrated live-line maintenance and safety training to share industry insight and best practices.

Xcel has worked on energized lines for more than 75 years, and do so to prevent regular maintenance from affecting customers. China's goal is to get there.

"They de-energize large sections of their power grid and work on it grounded and de-energized, so that's an inconvenience to the customers that we're not willing to accept at Xcel Energy, being that we have our stringent safety procedures," Browen said.

Terex, who custom-builds Xcel's trucks, is the largest utility provider to China.

"They have the same equipment, they just don't have the same work practices as we do over here," said Terex's Rob Bahneman. "[They want to] make it more effective and time-efficient and ... more financially responsible."

Linesmen mitigate hazards on the ground before going to work. They wear flame-resistant clothing and gloves that protect above the voltage they are working on.

It is the knowledge shared with Chinese counterparts that the delegation hopes will help move the country forward.

"When they come they realize so big difference from China and the U.S. That's something they need to work on to make sure people all train well and also use the safe machines to get the job done," Hong Wang, who accompanied the delegation, said.

Xcel has about 100 crews working on lines on any given day. The only time customers generally know they are being worked on is when there is severe weather that causes a power outage.

The delegation spent two weeks around the country learning from different companies. This was their only live-line demonstration.

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