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CPS Energy develops 'high wire chair' for safe work on live wires

From the February 8, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published February 8, 2013

By Fallon Forbush
Communications Assistant


The machinists' design meets the needs of the linemen, and CPS Energy said it saved money by keeping the work in house. Photos courtesy of CPS Energy

When faced with the challenge of working on hard-to-reach wires, the machinists at CPS Energy, in San Antonio, Texas, decided to design and fabricate their own "high wire chair" so their linemen could safely work on live wires. The municipal utility documented the endeavor in a video on its blog.

"We needed something to get over on the wire ... places where we couldn’t get a truck to," said Jeffery Toscano, a transmission foreman with the utility.

"My main, first concern was the safety aspect," said CPS machinist Foreman Pat Kelly."

The device the team came up with allows CPS Energy linemen to feel comfortable and stable, even while suspended far from the cherry picker. "The chair’s real good; real stable, outstanding," said Bobby Muntz, a CPS transmission lineman. "It helps us do our job a lot better."

At first, when looking at "swing set-like" designs on the Internet, the team had some reservations.

"Jeff came to us with the idea of this chair and my main, first concern was the safety aspect," said Pat Kelly," a CPS machinist foreman. "In my mind, I just could not see that as a safe way to be able to do this," he said.

The end product, fresh from the machine shop.

But the expertise in CPS Energy’s diversified substation machine shop—machinists, welders and fabricators—allowed the utility to innovate, Kelly said. "Everything we do is not a jack of all trades; it is actually a special skill of trades," he said.

"I’m waiting for them to ask me to go out there because I’d like to take a ride on it," said James Young, an electric machinist journeyman with the utility.


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Senior Vice President, Publishing 
Jeanne Wickline LaBella

Editorial Director
Robert Varela

Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson

Communications Assistant
Fallon W. Forbush

Manager, Integrated Media 
David L. Blaylock

Integrated Media Editor 
Laura D’Alessandro