/images/TDUpdate2.gif/images/southwire_100x70.jpgPILC Replacements Take Engineering - 2009TDpilcReplace.htmSouthwire can design replacements for paper-insulated, lead-covered cables to meet individual customer needs
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PILC Replacements Take Engineering - 2009

Southwire can design replacements for paper-insulated, lead-covered cables to meet individual customer needs


Paper-Insulated, Lead-Covered (PILC) cable was the standard cable construction for carrying medium-voltage (MV) power in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Having operated for 50, 60, or 70 years, a time period well in excess of their anticipated life, PILC cables are now in need of replacement. But there is no single PILC replacement cable because every PILC application is a little different, and utilities all have different construction practices and operating parameters.

Southwire designs PILC replacements for the application

"Southwire works with customers to develop PILC replacement designs that meet specific application needs, says Joe McAuliffe, Southwire senior project engineer.

PILC cables are small in diameter and were often installed in small-diameter ducts. Southwire PILC replacement solutions fit into existing conduits and still:

  • Carry the required load
  • Handle short-circuit current
  • Have good flexibility for pulling through small ducts and being trained in manholes
  • Withstand abuse of installation

Southwire PILC replacement cables are rigorously designed and tested to ensure that performance will meet customer needs.

PILC replacement solution impresses Customer

One recent PILC replacement design for a large utility uses a single 750 kcmil compacted copper conductor with tree-retardant cross-linked polyethylene (TR-XLPE) insulation. A PowerGlide jacket " a Southwire exclusive " improves pulling performance in small, dirty conduits. Instead of the normal 61-strand construction for this size, this PILC replacement gets a 91-strand conductor for increased flexibility. A glued longitudinally corrugated copper tape (LCT) shield handles high fault currents and eliminates the need for size-increasing round or flat-strap shield wires. The glued seam also helps protect the cable from moisture.

"This cable is still under final evaluation by the customer," says McAuliffe. "But some of the wire is already in the ground, and early indications are very favorable." Notes from the job site indicate that the cable feeds into the conduits well, which would be a function of the flexible stranding and the new PowerGlide jacket. Resistance to installation damage in the small, often deteriorated, conduits is also very good.

PILC replacement cable is readied to be pulled into underground conduit.

Southwire services reduce overall costs
With PILC replacement projects, customers typically know exactly the run lengths they will need. For these customers, Southwire can maintain master reels of the PILC replacement cable in Master Service Centers. Cut-to-length reels can then be shipped almost immediately, so customers can minimize their inventory and reduce wastage. "Southwire works with each utilitys needs to design economical PILC replacement solutions," McAuliffe says. "Southwires attention to customer application details produces better, more economical solutions."