T&D World Magazine

Andrew Stewart: Optimizing Life

Andy Stewart has spent most of his career working on “optimizing the life, reliability and capacity of existing transmission and distribution infrastructure and related R&D,” he said. Stewart works on ‘optimizing’ his own professional and personal life as well, as he enjoys working with his team and spending time with his family.

Stewart is president of EDM International, a consulting firm in Fort Collins, Colorado. He speaks at several conferences each year and he says that much of what he teaches has to do with getting more (life, reliability, capacity) out of the industry’s existing transmission and distribution infrastructure. “This is a vital topic when you consider that our T&D infrastructure is aging and at the same time the demands for electricity and reliability are growing,” Stewart said. “As an industry we cannot rely solely on the ability to build new facilities to meet future demands. We must also strive to optimize the use of the existing infrastructure.”

Stewart was an instructor at the first T&D World University this past fall, and he will present the following sessions this spring:

  • Emerging Issues and Technologies for Transmission Lines, Power Engineers’ Transmission Line Design Conference, March 5-6
  • NDE Techniques for Detecting Corrosion in Buried Steel and Optimizing Thermal Ratings Using Sensor Technology, CEATI’s Smart Sensor Workshop, April 30

He will also be teaching at EDM’s own International Conference on Overhead Lines: Design Construction, Operation and Maintenance in Fort Collins from March 31 to April 3. EPRI co-sponsors the conference, which focuses on technologies and resources to support the leading corporate objectives of electric utility companies today: reduce operations and maintenance costs, increase power throughput and improve line reliability.

When Stewart teaches, he stresses to students that there is always more to know. “Therefore always strive to be a student and always seek to learn,” he said. “And when you’re given responsibility for a task or project, always ask yourself, ‘is there a better, faster, more cost-effective way? And am I doing my best?’”

He brings real-world experience and lessons learned to his presentations. He got his start in the industry as a research assistant at Colorado State University on the EPRI-sponsored project, “Reliability-Based Design of Transmission Line Structures,” after earning a BS in civil engineering from the University of Rhode Island. While working on the EPRI project, he obtained his masters degree in structural engineering.

“I have always enjoyed the challenge of solving difficult problems,” Stewart said. “It was [with EPRI] that I was first exposed to the power industry and some of the challenges it was facing. I felt that working in the arena would be fun and that I could make a difference.”

Stewart then joined EDM as a senior research engineer in 1983. His work with EDM has involved the development of inspection methods, design procedures, analytical models and testing programs for use in a variety of structural engineering applications, as well as qualitative and quantitative evaluation of structural performance. For nearly 25 years, he has been actively involved in the development and implementation of asset management programs directed at cost-effectively extending the useful life of electric utility lines.

He served as the project manager for a major EPRI-sponsored initiative to improve the state-of-the-art of inspection and assessment methods for overhead lines. Stewart has performed technical and managerial activities associated with the inspection, assessment, maintenance, analysis and design of tens of thousands miles of utility lines. He managed the development of the maintenance standards for the transmission line and substation facilities of the investor-owned utilities in California that are now under the operational control of the California Independent System Operator.

Stewart is also actively involved in developing technologies to enhance the thermal ratings of overhead lines. Stewart's responsibilities at EDM have also involved the development and commercialization of technology, products and services for utility line design and management, technology transfer, and new business development.

Stewart said that he is truly blessed to be a part of a great team working in a great industry. As for his spare time, he said that he loves almost anything to do with ministry, spending time with family, building projects (of course) and running.

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