HUGHESVILLE, Md. (December 01, 2011)—Recently, the Maryland State Board of Public Works approved Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative's (SMECO) acquisition of the electric system at St. Mary's College of Maryland in St. Mary's City. SMECO and the college have been working on this privatization effort for nearly eight years.
This project is similar to other privatization agreements SMECO has structured, such as the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education in Piney Point and the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Lexington Park. Privatizing the college means SMECO will assume responsibility for the primary distribution system and a portion of the secondary system at the campus. SMECO will install a new smart meter on each building at the campus. Upon conversion, the college will pay SMECO's standard electric rates for general service customers at the secondary level.
SMECO and the college hired Sebesta Blomberg, a consulting engineering firm, to inventory the facilities at the St. Mary's College of Maryland campus and assess the quality of the equipment, its remaining life, and its value.
"The college and SMECO have a long history of cooperation," said Charles Jackson, associate vice president of the college's Planning and Facilities department. "This agreement benefits the college by getting us out of the business of maintaining an electrical infrastructure system. SMECO will maintain the system and make improvements to enhance its reliability. Also, by installing smart meters on each building, the college can further its energy conservation programs, pushing beyond the 20 percent reduction already made in the past few years."
Where necessary, SMECO will install new transformers and cables. Some of these will be necessary due to age or deficiencies. For example, the college has live-front transformers that will be replaced with dead-front transformers. Live-front transformers must first be de-energized before maintenance can be performed. Dead-front units have high-voltage terminations that are installed with rubber elbows, which provide flexibility for maintenance and improve safety in case of unintended contact.
Kenneth Capps, SMECO's Senior Vice President of Engineering and Operations, added, "We look forward to completing the system improvements at the college. The smart metering technology will be a significant factor in allowing the campus to save energy while the equipment upgrades will enhance reliability and safety."