TC utility first to get greener circuit switcher from Siemens

TRAVERSE CITY—The municipal utility Traverse City Light & Power has installed the first circuit switcher in the United States that uses air in place of traditional sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) insulating gas.

Built at the Richland, Miss.-plant of Raleigh, N.C. Siemens Energy, the North American energy subsidiary of the German industrial giant, the Blue Clean Air 72.5 kV CPV2V Circuit Switcher is the first in the U.S. to provide reliable short-circuit interruption without emitting harmful gases into the atmosphere. By contrast, SF6, the insulating gas typically used in gas insulated equipment, has a global warming potential of 23,500 times that of CO2.

Siemens Energy is focused on creating environmentally friendly products like this carbon neutral technology that are sustainable and help drive the transition to clean energy. The Blue line of Clean Air vacuum technology for circuit breakers and switchers is capable of reliable short-circuit interruption at voltage levels above 69 kV with no global warming potential emissions over the lifetime of the equipment.

Traverse City Light & Power serves more than 12,700 customers in Traverse City, as well as parts of East Bay, Elmwood, Garfield and Peninsula townships. It has adopted renewable generation sourcing goals of 40 percent by 2020 and 100 percent by 2040. Tony Chartrand, system engineer at TCL&P, said the utility chose to upgrade to the Blue Clean Air technology to “provide more reliability to our customers and save maintenance costs along with being more environmentally friendly.”

The Blue Clean Air Circuit Switcher is designed to reliably operate in conditions as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius (minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit), making it ideal for cold weather climates by eliminating the need for external heaters. The design and reliability of the components make it maintenance free over the lifetime of the circuit switcher.

Additionally, the circuit switcher is easily filled with air as needed, eliminating the need for costly fluorinated gas storage and use of complex gas carts to handle SF6 gas. Replacing an existing circuit switcher with the Blue Clean Air model is simple because it shares a similar footprint. Clean air vacuum technology offers estimated life cycle cost advantages up to 40 percent over SF6 circuit switchers.

“By investing in reliable and ecologically responsible products, like our Blue Clean Air technologies, our customers increase their production cost competitiveness while also helping to protect the environment,” says Wade Lauer, senior vice president for transmission products and systems North America for Siemens Energy.

Siemens Energy produces gas and steam turbines, hybrid power plants operated with hydrogen, and power generators and transformers. More than 50 percent of the portfolio has already been decarbonized. Siemens Energy employs 91,000 people worldwide in more than 90 countries and generated revenue of around €29 billion in fiscal year 2019. More at

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