T&D World Magazine

Michael McCraney: Substation Excitement

The substation is a never-emptying barrel of knowledge and excitement, according to Michael McCraney. “I can connect a computer to an IED (intelligent electronic device) located in a transformer, breaker or regulator to program or gather information,” McCraney said.

McCraney does substation maintenance in Montgomery for Alabama Power Co. He also teaches substation maintenance when he has a chance. He feels he has a responsibility to protect the public and distribution personnel when they are performing hot line work. He has had experience working on a distribution line crew where he learned how important correct breaker operations are.

McCraney will be presenting Circuit Breaker First-Trip Testing at the Finepoint Circuit Breaker Test & Maintenance Training Conference on Oct. 7. The session will cover the importance of gathering data of a first trip, implantation of the test equipment and analyzing the data.

“Being able to efficiently identify and fix breaker problems will help relieve the constant increasing cost of maintaining substations,” he said. “Students will be able to adequately evaluate the performance of their breaker to efficiently make any necessary repairs.”

McCraney brings his experience from working in the field in conjunction with Alabama Power’s substation electricians to the classroom. He has spent time answering questions while troubleshooting equipment and analyzing many different types of breakers.

He started his career in the electric utility industry working in distribution line construction for Alabama Power. From 2000 to 2005, he worked as a helper and apprentice lineman. In 2008, he earned a bachelors of science in electrical engineering from Auburn University. He is a substation engineer responsible for breaker time-testing analysis, transformer temperature monitor management, regulator control management and many other tasks.

“My time spent working on the distribution line crew exposed me to hands on construction, and while at college I learned controls, communications, and power systems. It was a thrilling experience to get the answers on how electricity worked in so many venues,” he said. “After college I wanted to have a career that could combine all that I have learned and been exposed to in this fascinating field. The answer for me was power substations.”

McCraney has learned from all of his time in the field that safety is the most important concept that students must learn. “With electricity, once you see it, it’s too late,” he said.

McCraney’s interest in electricity and computing extends beyond his job. He likes to build microcontroller projects in his spare time. “There are plenty of simple-life applications that could use automating,” he said.

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