PSO Replacing Breakers Under Tulsa City Streets

Tuesday, March 18th 2014, 6:25 pm
By: News On 6

Public Service of Oklahoma electricians are going underground to swap out circuit breakers in downtown Tulsa even though they're not broken. It's an expensive replacement ordered by Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration.

PSO crews are replacing network protectors under the city streets. They work just like circuit breakers in your house except they're more powerful. Some of these haven't been changed since the '80s, but PSO says that's not the reason it is upgrading them now.

Network protectors impact thousands of downtown Tulsa workers, but most don't have a clue how important they really are.

"You've got breakers in your house that are like 20 amp breakers. Well these are the same concept except they're 2,000 amp breakers," said Mark Troxell of PSO.

Troxell says the new technology is more reliable for customers, and meets OSHA's new strict guidelines.

"Another reason, and I thank God for that, is our safety," Troxell said.

OSHA is requiring better protection for electricians against arc flash, or electrical explosion.

"To put the people that are working in front of it, less exposure to a flash," explained Mark Troxell, PSO network electrician.

There are dozens of three-feed breakers buried underground and atop buildings across downtown. If one goes out, the other two pick up the slack so Tulsa's skyline will never be left in the dark.

"Businesses do not see a blip in their lights or anything if we lose a feed," Troxell said.

It'll cost PSO $3 million for the upgrades, but Troxell says the old breakers won't completely go to waste.

"Some of them that are newer; we're going to go through them and renew them and rework them," he said.

So far they've switched out about 30 protectors. They have 71 to replace in downtown.