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IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery, Vol. 14, No.

2, April 1999



Report of the IEEE Task Force "Bare Conductor Sag at High Temperature".
Members of the JEEE Task Force of the WG "Thermal Aspects of Overhead Conductors", of the Towers,
Poles and Conductors Subcommittee are: Y. Motlis (Chairman),J.S. Barrett, G.A.Davidson, D.A. Douglas,
P.A. Hall, J.L. Reding, T.O. Seppa, F.R. Thrash, Jr., and H.B. White.


Abstract. This report summarises the work by the Task Force

to review the accuracy of the ruling span method for
conductors operated at high temperatures. The basics of the
ruling span approximation method have been examined. The
traditional ruling span approach can be used with little or no
error for a typical overhead line crossing a rolling terrain to
predict sags in suspension spans for conductor operating
temperatures in the range of 5@C to 7OOC. Sensitivity studies
were performed using conductors "Lapwing" and "Tern" in
order to quantify such ruling span assumptions as the effect of
the longitudinalswing of suspension and line post insulators on
conductor sags at high temperatures, and the effect of the
suspension insulator string length on the equalization of
conductor tensions in adjacent spans. Significant errors in
estimating the sag at conductor temperature above lOOOC may
occur if the tension differences are not taken into consideration
in line sections consisting of a series of spans of non-equal
lengths, It was confirmed that the ruling span method is the
most practical way to string conductors in multi-span line

Key words: Conductor, ruling span, high temperature, sag,

tension, insulator swing.


The objective of this paper is to describe the widely accepted
"ruling span" method of sag-tension calculation for multiple
suspension spans between dead-end structures where the spans
are nearly level but unequal of length. Errors due to operation
of the conductor at high temperatures and due to imperfect
tension equalization at supports is studied and several
calculation corrections are noted.
In this paper, the high temperature operation means conductor
temperature above IOOOC (212F).
PE-I 97-MD-0-12-1997 A paper recommended and approved by
the IEEE Transmission and Distribution Committee of the IEEE Power
Engineering Society for publication in the IEEE Transactions on Power
Delivery. Manuscript submitted July 16, 1997; made available for
printing December 12, 1997.

A = total conductor area

ct =

coefficient of elongation

D = conductor sag
D, = ruling span sag

= modulus of elasticity

H, = horizontal tension at initial conductor state

H = horizontal tension
Lo = initial conductor length

L = conductor length
RS = "local" ruling span
S, = ruling span length
S, = suspension span length
To = initial conductor temperature

= conductor temperature
w = weight of conductor per unit length


A. The basics.
The well known parabolic and hyperbolic equations defining
the relationship between span, sag, and tension apply to
single level dead-end spans. For a series of spans of unequal
length and nearly level elevations, a simple method is needed
to determine a theoretical level span length for which the sag
and tension characteristics can be applied to determine the
sag and tension behaviour of all spans. The solution of this
problem was published in 1924 by E.S. Thayer, an electrical
engineer in Seattle [11. The solution is now called the Ruling
Span method.
A common definition of ruling span is a level dead-end span
that gives the same change in tension from changes in
loading, creep, and/or temperature as that in a series of
suspension spans between two dead-end structures [2]. This
span "rules" the conductor's sag and tension behaviour for
the line section. The ruling span method permits correct
sagging of conductors and provides prediction of conductor
behaviour with creep, loads and temperatures within the
usual operating ranges of 5oOC to 7OOC.
The tension variations due to load or temperature changes

0885-8977/99/$10.00 0 1997 IEEE


will depend on the lengths of the spans in the section, and the
section as a whole will react to load and temperature changes
in the same way as a single "ruling" span [3]. It is a fictitious
span with a rate of slack equal to the average rate of slack of
the line section.
The equation for the ruling span length (S,) of a line section
of (Si>suspension spans is:

and is referred in this paper as the traditional ruling span


longitudinal movement of the attachment point) nor true

suspension points (allowing unrestrained longitudinal
movement of attachment points). Full tension equalization is
unlikely at such points even for small longitudinal
0 at suspension structures supporting a large weight span,
tension equalization may not occur even for modest
longitudinal movement of the insulator attachment point.
for post insulators, tension equalization depends on the
combined flexibility of the suspension hardware (if any), the
insulator, its attachment to the pole, and the pole.
response of strain or suspension structures to varying
loads. This can be significant, for example, when tubular
steel structures or davit type arms are used.

The parabolic approximation for the ruling span sag @) is:

C. The accuracy.

The sag-tension behaviour of each of the spans in a line

section is determined in the following manner:
0 sag-tension calculations are made for a single dead-end span
with length equal to the ruling span (Eq. 1 and Eq.2).
the tension in all of the suspension spans of the line section
is assumed to be the same and equal to that of the ruling span
under all loading and conductor temperature conditions.
0 once the sag @,) of the ruling span has been calculated, the
sag @) of any other span (S) is calculated as:
D = ( -s



The ruling span approximation method may not be accurate

enough to analyze the operation of a line, although it was
used for the design of the line. This is especially true if
there is a need to operate the line above the original design
Sag errors caused by incomplete tension equalization
between suspension spans result in inaccurate calculations
using Eq.1 and Eq.2. This is the main scope of this paper.
Sag errors caused by temperature variation along the line
section generally cause lesser errors than those due to
incomplete tension equalization, and it is outside of the scope
of this Task Force.
Errors in sag estimates caused by the present methods of
modeling of conductor's sag vs temperature relationship
(which also affects the sags in individual dead-end spans)
may be a future task of this Task Force.

B. The assumDtions.
The ruling span method is called an approximate method
because of a number of unwritten assumptions made such as:
span lengths are large compared to the difference in
elevation of supports.
the load per unit length is equal for all suspension spans in
the line section.
conductor temperature is the same along the line section.
the suspension points between adjacent spans are free to
move longitudinally without restraint. This is the fundamental
assumption of the traditional ruling span method. When
circumstances prevent or unduly restrict this free movement
and tension equalization, sag predictions based on the ruling
span method may be inaccurate.
Other errors resulting from the ruling span approach may be
caused by:
angle suspension insulators, running angle insulators and
inverted "V" strings are neither true strain points (allowing no

While the Task Force certainly does not advocate discarding

the existing methods of sag-tension calculations, it has
identified situations where line engineers should be aware of
the limitations of traditional calculation methods.


Sag-tension calculations can be complex even for single
spans with fixed end points. The conductors' non-linear
elasticity, thermal elongation, plastic creep elongation, and
the various combinations of ice, wind, and temperature
conditions may need to be considered.
Useful information can be obtained from the tensiontemperature relationship in a level dead-end span,
considering only the elastic properties and thermal expansion
of the composite conductor, and making simplifying


The length (I,)of conductor in span

using the parabolic approximation, by:

(S)can be calculated

Arc elongation (or slack) is defined as the excess length of

conductor (I,)relative to the span length (S)and is given, in
the parabolic approximation, by:

The change in strain in a single dead-end span, in which the

temperature changes from T, to T, accompanied by a change
in tension from H, to H, is:
&-Lo- H-Ho




+a (T-To)

The "graphic method" of sag-tension calculation [4], assumes

that the change of slack is euual to the change of strain. Using
this assumption we can combine Eq.5 and Eq.6 to obtain

in the insulator string, the greater the restriction.

The ruling span method assumes that complete equalization
is achieved, thus overstating the insulator swing. Suspension
point movement is usually, but not always, less than that
calculated using the ruling span method. Depending on the
specific spans lengths, there may be a difference in
horizontal tension between any two adjacent uneven spans.
The ruling span inaccuracies are largest for lines with short
insulator strings [5], since the ruling span approximation
assumes an infinite string length. The shorter the insulator's
length, the greater is the restriction on movement. High
operating temperatures (over l W C ) further degrades the
accuracy of this approximation. A complete analysis of
multi-span line sections should take into account conductor
properties, spans, line profile, line angles, insulator string
properties, support stiffness, original sagging and clampingin procedures, weather loading history, creep, and a
reasonably good knowledge of the existing condition of the
line section under study.


The basic assumption for the numerical examples is that the
initial position of the insulators is vertical, either without or
after offset clipping.

This cubic equation in H describes the approximate tensiontemperature relationship for a single dead-end span. If H, and

T, are known e.g., measured in field, the horizontal tension

H may be computed for any given temperature.


Real overhead lines are not limited to spans with fixed endpoint supports. In a typical transmission line, most spans are
"suspension" whose end-point supports move, coupling each
span with adjacent spans.
Transmission lines are usually sagged to maintain the
insulators plumb. With temperature rise, creep and permanent
strain from weather loads, the conductor elongates. When a
line section has spans of differing lengths, the conductor
elongation causes the insulators to depart from their vertical
position. As temperature increases, the suspension point moves
toward long spans and away from short spans to equalize
horizontal tension. Figure 1, Appendix I, shows an insulator
string and the forces acting at the suspension point. In general,
at a suspension point between two spans, the movement of the
suspension point caused by tension difference is restrained by
the vertical load at the suspension point. The larger the load

Consider a dead-ended line section consisting of 10 spans,

conductor "Lapwing", ACSR, 4517, total area = 1590 kcmil
(1.249 in2 or 805.8 mm2); weight=1.792 lblft (26.2 N/m),
RTS=43780 lb (194.7 kN), E,=9.5*1@ psi (65.5*103
MPa), a= 11.6*10-6 1PF (21*10-6 lPC), E,,=27.5*106 psi
(189.6*1@ MPa). Initial condition: ?,=8440 lb (37.5 kN)
@lO"C; S,= lo00 ft (305 m); final condition: Td, = l W C .
Suspension insulator string is 5 ft (1.52 m) long; and its
weight is 120 lb (534 N).
Since the six computer programs used by the Task Force to
calculate sag, tension, and swing at high temperatures
showed very close results, Table 1, Appendix I, lists the
average values of those calculations. As can be seen, the sag
in the longest span of 1500 ft (457.2 m) is 4.9 ft (1.5 m)
smaller when the tension differences are taken into account.
In the span of 1150 ft (350.5 m), the sag @lOoOC is 1.4 ft
(0.4 m) larger when the tension differences are considered.
The explanation of these results is very important for line
engineers and is given below.
It has been noted that short and long spans react differently
to changes of temperature. Short spans are more sensitive to
temperature changes than long spans. For the 1150 ft (350.5
m) span in our example, the positive sag error (when the


actual sag is larger than the sag calculated using the ruling
span method) depends on the span's length, the tension
differences in adjacent spans, and insulator string lengths.
Only for the idealized ruling span method, stiffness is
independent of insulator string length. The tensions in the
1150 ft (350.5 m) span are modeled by the ruling span method
to follow those of the lo00 ft (304.8 m) ruling span, but the
restraints of the insulator strings cause the span to behave
more like an 912 ft (278 m) span. The resulting behaviour is
described later in this paper as a "local" ruling span which
differs from the traditional ruling span method.

string length, in the same spans, there is practically a

complete tension equalization. This confirms the significant
effect of the length of the insulators.


High temperature sags can be modeled with alternative
techniques such as "local" ruling span and fits to tensiontemperature behaviour.
A better understanding of these techniques may be beneficial
for the users of the real time line monitoring systems.

Case 2. Effect of line Dost insulators deflection.

Analysis using the case described below shows that the
current practice can lead to sag errors, because although
flexible, a polymer line post insulator is still a magnitude
stiffer than a suspension insulator for a similar span.
Calculations were made using conductor "Tern", 795 kcmil
(403 mm?, ACSR, RTS=22100 lb (98.3 kN); w=0.8958
lb/ft (13.1 N/m); diameter = 1.063 in (27 mm); total
area=0.6674 in2 (430.6 mm?. The ruling span = 500 ft
(152.4 m). Initial tension is 15% RTS, i.e., 3315 lb (14.75
kN) @lOOC. Line post insulator is 4.36 ft (1.33 m) long, and
has a stiffness of approximately 2500 lb/ft (3728 kg/m). Table
2, Appendix I, shows the effect of deflection of line post
insulators on sag at high temperatures.
The sag errors with the 2500 lb/ft line post insulators are
approximately 1/2 of the difference between the ruling span
and individual span cases. Stiffer line post insulators would
cause the line section behave more like individual spans. For
comparison, seven units insulator strings in the same span
would have spring constant of about 120-150 lb/ft (1750-2190
N/m). The sag errors would be much larger if the spans
lengths were increased.

Case 3. Effect of the insulator string length.

The basic assumption of the traditional ruling span method
was verified i.e., as the insulator string length increases to
infinity, the tension @lOSC approaches the ruling span
Calculationsperformed for Case I assumed an insulator string
length of 5 ft (1.5 m). Similar calculations and comparison
were made using the insulator string lengths of 2.5 ft (0.8 m),
14 ft (4.3 m), and 200 ft (61 m). The later can be considered
as an insulator of infinite length.
At conductor temperature of lOoOC, the 5 ft (1.5 m) long
insulator string swing results in a tension difference of 182 lb
(0.8 kN) between spans of 750 ft (228.6 m) and of 1150 ft
(350.5 m). For the same conditions, the swing of the 2.5 ft
(0.76 m) long insulator string results in tension difference of
339 lb (1.5 kN). For the assumed 200 ft (61 m) insulator

A. "Local"ruling man.
The concept of a "local" ruling span ( R S ) is to find a deadend span that has the same tension-temperature relationship
as each actual span. In order to define such a local ruling
span, rewrite Eq.7:

If (To,
H,) and (T, H)are known for a particular span, its
"local" ruling span is obtained using this equation. This is a
single-parameter fit to the tension-temperature relationship
to two known points and is only valid to the accuracy to
which the line section can be modeled (e.g. angle structures,
elastic response of structures or uncertainties of elastic
modulus and coefficient of thermal expansion).
Alternatively, if (H,) and (H) are determined by measuring
the conductor tension directly [6] or derived from the
measured sag at two known temperatures, an accurate single
parameter fit can be established between the two fitted
points. In both cases, the "local" ruling span's tensiontemperature behaviour will differ from the actual ruling span
except between and near the two fitted points. If necessary,
this second order deviation can be calculated using a multispan program and fitting "local" ruling spans for each span
of interest. However, it may not be practical to have ruling
spans which vary with temperature and location.
The "local" ruling span length was calculated using Eq.8
for Case 1. The calculation was performed for a temperature
change from To= 10C to T= 100C, and the corresponding
tension change is from &=8440 lb (37.54 kN) to
H=5886 Ib (26.18 kN).


Because the "local" ruling span had the temperature-tension

behaviour of a span shorter than lo00 ft (304.8 m), the sag in
the 1150 ft (350.5 m) span was actually larger than that
estimated using the traditional ruling span equation,

In general, as a result of the insulator swing at high operating

temperatures the spans can interact in such a way that a multispan sag-tension program may be necessary to predict the line
section sag-temperature behaviour more accurately. In some
cases it may be practical to run a multi-span program once and
fit the results. One way to fit the tension-temperature of each
span is to rewrite Eq.7 as:

T=a +bB+-


This equation is linear in the parameters a,b, and c, which can

be fitted by linear regression to either the results from a multispan sag-tension program or to observed values of (T)and
(H). The fitting of (a) takes into account the constant terms
involving (H,J and (To); the fitting of (b) takes into account
the "springiness" of all the other spans either increasing or
decreasing the effective spring constant of the conductor and;
the fitting of (c) is similar to fitting a "local" ruling span. If
is required as a function of (T),either a closed-form
solution of the cubic equation or an iterative solution may be
used. Once (H) has been obtained for a given span, the sag
may be computed using the actual span lengths and Eq.3.

1. The traditional equations describing the relationship
between temperature and span length, sag, and tension are
fully valid for dead-end spans only. A multi-span line section
can be analyzed as an equivalent single dead-end "ruling"
2. The traditional ruling span method can be used with
acceptable error margins for lines which are operated below
l@C and have relatively equal and near level spans.
3. When old lines, originally rated for low operating
temperatures, are uprated for operation at higher temperatures,
the magnitude of sag errors should be evaluated using one of
the available computer programs. The main source of errors
is the longitudinalinsulator swing in line sections with unequal

4. For overhead lines planned for high temperature

operation, it is recommended to add a buffer of about 1 m
to the vertical clearance at maximum thermal sag.
5. Line post insulators can cause errors if the sag
calculations are made using traditional ruling span equations
when the span lengths vary significantly. In many cases, post
insulators can cause individual spans to behave as if they
were dead-ended at every structure.
6. The ruling span concept remains the most practical
method to string overhead line conductors. The ruling span
effects are not dependent on the type of conductor but rather
on the amount of tension change per degree of conductor
temperature change.

Task Force members would like to thank the following
persons and organizations for their contributions to the
success of this task, namely: D.E.Koonce, C.B. Rawlins,
N.P. Schmidt, W.A. Chisholm; for providing the results of
calculations using the following computer programs:
STRING, Power Technologies Inc.; SAGSEC, Power Line
System Inc.; NIP & TUCK, Linesoft Inc; SPRING, The
Valley Group; SWING, Ontario Hydro; and

[ 11. E.S. Thayer, "Computing Tensions in Transmission
Lines", "Electrical World", no.2, pp.72-73, 1924.
[2]. C.O.Boyse, N.G. Simpson, "The Problem of Conductor
Sagging on Overhead Transmission Lines", Journal AIEE,
Vol.91,Part 11, pp.219-231, Dec. 1944.
[3]. P.F.Winkelman, "Sag-Tension Computations and Field
Measurements of Bonneville Power Administration", Journal
AIEE, Vo1.78, pp. 1532-1548, February 1960.
[4]. Theodor Vamey, ACSR Graphic Method for SagTension Computations (Book), Aluminum Company of
America, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, 1927.
[5]. W.A. Chisholm, J.S. Barrett, "Ampacity Studies on
49OC-Rated Transmission Line", IEEE Transactions on
Power Delivery, Vo1.4, no.2, pp. 1476-1485, April 1989.
"Accurate Ampacity Determination;
Temperature-Sag Model for OperationalReal Time Ratings",
IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery, Vol.10, No.3,
pp. 1460-1470, July 1995.


Appendix I.

tan 8 = H / (wi/2+we),
8 = angle of insulator swing
- 7






weight of insulator

wc= total weight of a vertical span of


H = total horizontal load including

component of tension due to line angle

Fig. 1. Suspension Insulator Swing

S,=lOOO ft (304.8 m):

basedon s,
w/swing effect
Sag error





@lo0 "C, sagz36.84 ft (11.23 m), tension=6090 lb (27.1 kN)



Table II Effect of Post Insulator Deflection on High Temperature Sag.




based on S,
Sag@ 100C
Sag@ 100C
individual span
Sag error

Sp500 ft (152.4 m): @lo0 "C, sae21.12 ft (6.44 m), tension=1328 lb (5.9 kN)
5 10
3 90
5 80






B. Freimark (American Electric Power. Columbus, OH):

AEP recognizes the errors associated with the traditional
Ruling Span method. but we have not found a better procedure, nor does this paper suggest a better procedure, other
than to "add a buffer amount of 1 meter (3.3 feet) to the
vertical clearance" at the maximum operating temperature.
In the example of a series of unequal (tangent) suspension
spans preseiited in Case 1, the general trend is for spans
shorter than and approximately equal in length to the Ruling
Span to have adjusted sags approximately 37 cm (1.2 feet)
more than anticipated, and spans significantly longer to have
sags up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) less than anticipated.
Regarding the reduction in sag in the longer spans of the line
section, in my experience when an overhead line has significant variations in span length (other than when crossing a
specifichnique geographic feature such as a major river). the
line is traversing very rugged terrain and "jumping" from
ridge-to-ridge. For longer spans, the minimum clearance
usually does not occur near the mid span (where the valley
''drops" away) but nearer the supporting structures (approximately at the quarter points of the span). Therefor. the larger
sag at the mid-span (where the clearance is large) has a
minimal effect on the final structure heights. and excess
structure height is generally not occurring.
Since 1986, we have included the effects of elevated temperature creep in the design of new lines and the review of older
lines for operation at elevated temperatures. For the conditions outlined in Case 1, this increases the design sag of the
Ruling Span by approximately 30 cm (1 foot).
Not mentioned in the paper is the effect of "room temperature" creep due to the time lag between putting the conductor
in the stringing blocks and actually sagging and clipping in
the conductor. If the conductor's NESC-Heavy design
tension were a conservative 40% of its rated strength and the
wire was pulled-in and hanging in the stringing blocks at
70% of the sagging tension for 12 hours (overnight). 20% of
the 10-year room temperature creep would occur, increasing
to 25% after 48 hours and to 30% after 120 hours (Creep
being a log function.). For the conditions specified for Case
1 in the paper, the difference between the Initial and Final
sags At 16C (60F) is approximately 1.5 meters (5 feet).
Therefor: if the creep is ignored (as is normally the case) and
the wire is then sagged to "Initial" sadtension values. the
"Final" sags would be less than the design values by approximately 30 cm (1 foot). which. again, is generally considercd
to be conservative.
Additionally, since 1978 at AEP, we have added a 61 cm
(2.0 foot) buffer to the NESC required clearances at the
conductor maximum operating temperatures (to account for
errors in surveying, structure setting, conductor sagging.

Therefor. AEP has effectively been adding more than the "1
meter" (3.3 foot) buffer recommended in the paper: 30 cm (1
foot) from elevated temperature creep +30 cm (1 foot) from
room temperaturG creep before sagging + 61 cm (2 foot) AEP
buffer = 1.2 meters (4 feet).

Also not directly stated but only inferred to in Case 3 in the

paper is the relationship of insulator string length to unbalanced tension. As the insulator string becomes longer, the
differences in tension in adjacent spans decreases (generally
inversely to the increase in the length of the insulator string
moment arm). Thus the sags will be closer to the Ruling
Span based predictions. Therefor. this issue is of greater
concern at lower line voltages and less of a concern at higher
Line voltages.
Manuscript received February 13, 1998.
R. 0. Kluge (Wisconsin Power and Light Co., Madison, WI
53701): The IEEE Task Force on "Bare Conductor Sag at
High Temperature" have presented a very timely and useful
paper for utilities desiring to operate their transmission lines at
maximum the capacity. By comparing sag calculations using
both a ruling span and what the authors call a "multi-span"
approach, they demonstrate the limitations of the ruling span
method. They also explain that this limitation is inherent in the
definitions of ruling span method, that is, the ruling span
method assumes an idealistic support that has no horizontal
restraint where as the multi-span method considers partial
restraint of the insulators. The authors then show that, if the
line is operating at elevated temperatures, the conductor may
not have uniform tension because there is horizontal restraint
at the insulators.

The reader should be cautioned that the comparisons shown in

Table I and I1 contain the premise that the conductors had
uniform tension between dead ends, at the time of installation.
Since this premise may not always be true on a real line, the
sag differences could be greater or smaller than shown in these
tables. To account for this, the authors adeptly explain that a
"second order deviation can be calculated using a multi-span
program and fitting 'local' ruling spans for each span." They
add, however, that this "may not be practical."
As impractical as it may seem, at times, it is necessary. From
my experience analyzing the sag of actual lines, there are
numerous events that can cause the conductor tension to be
different between individual spans even when at normal
ambient temperatures. These include:
1) The conductor may not have uniform tension when
clamped at the time of installation.

2) Settlement of structures or relaxation of anchors or guys.

3) Prior heavy ice loading on the conductors.
4) Line alterations including structure height increases or
relocation of structures (unless the conductor is reclamped or
sliced to restore the balance tension condition).


5 ) Numerous methods of increasing the conductor clearances

such as off-set clipping at critically low spans or removing a

segment of conductor from a critically low span.
Any of these conditions may result in either an increase or
decrease in conductor tension for a portion of a line that could
result in unbalance tension. A sufficient number of spans
should be measured to obtain actual field conditions and
knowledge of any unbalanced tension. Of course, if unbalance
tensions exist, multi-span methods as recommended by the
authors are even more necessary.
Item 3) presents special problems because the utility may not
know the ice loading history for the conductor. The magnitude
of a heavy ice loading e\ ent is important because it may cause
additional inelastic strain in the conductor that exceeds the
long term creep. The obvious result of this strain is increased
sag. However, since, at icing temperatures, the strain will
generally be greater in the aluminum, the steel will thenceforth
support a greater share of the conductor weight. At high
operating temperatures, this is significant because steel has a
smaller coefficient of thermal expansion than aluminum and,
therefore, the change in conductor sag with temperature will
be less. In other words, after a heavy ice loading event, the
ACSR conductor will behave more like SSAC (steel supported
aluminum conductor).

To determine where the conductor is on its final strain curve,

multiple sadtension measurements must be taken at differing
temperatures. Tension monitors, as suggested by the authors to
measure conductor tensions when operating at elevated
temperatures, possess an addition feature, that is, they readily
provide multiple tension measurements. This can be extremely
valuable not only to calculate the long term conductor strain
but also record ice loading data to determine retum intervals
of local ice loading events.
Utilities should be aware that many of these field conditions I
have mentioned can have a greater effect on the conductor
sags than the choice of a numerical method of evaluation. This
is not to say, that utilities should not use a more precise
method of evaluating conductor sags. Conversely, the
experiences I have identified above provide additional reasons
for using one of the multi-span programs referenced by the
Two final questions: If one does not know the ice loading
history, would you comment on the number of additional sag
measurements required to back calculate the strain level of the
conductor? Since the paper did not provide a comparison of
the programs, are all of the programs equally capable of
handing imbalanced initial tensions or span specific tension
1 R. J. Carrington, New Technologies for Transmission Line
Upgrading, IEEE-TP&C ESMO Conference paper, March

2 T. 0. Seppa, et. al., Use of On-Line Tension Monitors for

Real Time Ratings, Ice Loads and Other Environmental
Effects, CIGRE, 1998.
Manuscript received February 13, 1998.

M. J. Tunstall (The National Grid Company, UK): This paper

provides a useful commentary on the ruling span
approximation and draws attention to a problem that is not
well-recognised among many practising line designers. With
the active uprating of lines taking place in many parts of the
world, driven by the increasing need to make the maximum
use of existing right-of-way, the paper is both timely and
In one or two places, however, the explanation of the role of
suspension insulators seems a little confusing. The
fundamental assumption of the ruling span (also known as the
equivalent span) approximation for a multi-span section is
stated in Section I11 A: that the tension in all of the spans is
equal and changes by the same amount, as temperature or
loading changes. In practice, this is only true either if all the
spans are identical or if the suspension insulators are infinitely
long. In the latter case, the insulators are required to swing
only an infinitesimally small amount to achieve tension
equalisation across the insulators.
It is self-evident from Figure 1 that a finite length insulator
can sustain a swing only if there is a tension difference
between the adjacent spans, thereby conflicting with the ruling
span assumption. The ruling span approximation is therefore
likely to be accurate only where both the true solution requires
very small insulator swings and the suspension points are free
to allow them to take place. Subsequent statements, such as in
Section V: The ruling span method assumes that complete
equalisation is achieved, thus overstating the insulator swing
are therefore confusing.
NGC are currently uprating a number of their AAAC circuits
from a rated temperature of 75C to 90C. The procedure that
has been adopted is to check the clearances of the line at 90C
using standard software, based on the ruling span
approximation. If this procedure leads to predicted clearances
that are within 0.5 m or less of the design value, then the
corresponding sections are checked using the NGC program,
GenCat, which allows for insulator swing and for the
reduction of EA with increased temperature. 0.5 m is typical
of the maximum differences that have been found between
ruling span and GenCat calculations. Where necessary these
checks are combined with surveys of critical spans, during
which direct measurements are made of conductor
Manuscript received February 13, 1998.

Ronald J. Carrington (ECSI Corporation, Spokane, WA):

The authors have done a fine job of helping focus attention
on a most important subject. The numerical example
presented in Case 1 is a set of unequal spans with the
conductor support points all at the same elevation. It is
preferable that the authors use a numerical example with
the point of support points at different elevations so that the
reader could see the effects of differences in elevations as
well as unequal span lengths. The authors suggest that all
six computer programs showed very close results which
leads the reader to believe that any of the six programs are
adequate for this type analysis. The software programs


identified in the paper have not been rigorously evaluated

and representing that they are all produce equivalent results
is misleading the reader. A numerical example with
conductor support points not all at the same elevation
would present a more realistic example of typical lines
found in the field.
Item 5. in section VIII. CONCLUSIONS, recommends a
clearance buffer of 1 m for high temperature operation. This
paper has presented insufficient evidence to support this
recommendation. The clearance buffer, whether used for
design or analysis should take into account how well all of
the input parameters and calculation methods are known.
Examples could be presented where the appropriate
clearance buffer should be less than 1 m and examples
could also be presented where the appropriate clearance
buffer should be far in excess of 1 m. The clearance buffer
should be established for a particular transmission line after
careful engineering study. Providing this rule of thumb in
this paper is inappropriate, misleading and potentially
In paragraph C. The Accuracy, the authors state that sag
errors caused by temperature variation along the line
section are generally less than the sag errors caused by
incomplete tension equalization. This is also a very
important topic particularly for rerating and real-time
rating. Since this statement has been included in this report
without documentation or reference, the authors are
encouraged to support this claim in this report or a
subsequent document.

H.BRIAN WHITE, Consultant

Hudson, Quebec, Canada :
While being an active member of the Task Force we
expressed and maintained some opinions contrary to those
of the majority on several issues discussed in the document.
It was suggested that we present our views after
presentation of the document which we do at this time.
One theme runs throughout the document and that is
that the Ruling Span (RS) method is somewhat deficient in
fulfilling its purpose, a concept mentioned in the abstract
and also in item 6 of the conclusions where it states that the
RS concept remains the most practical method etc. Except
when dealing with an absolutely level series of even spans,
the RS method is the only method for deriving necessary
sag tension data for spotting the structures, an iterative
process (usually one iteration is sufficient) that provides the
sag tension data for stringing and obtaining vertical strings
. .
at clipping in if supplemented by apphation of offsets; the
offsets being needed to compensate for the unequal
horizontal tensions that exist in the mix of long and short
spans or in spans at different elevations while in the
stringing blocks. Neglect of offsets is quite rational and
common if they are small but their omission will certainly
complicate the process of trying to predict the sag
distortions that will occur at higher temperatures.
Assuming correct installation with offsets so that
insulator strings are vertical at clipping in, the entire system
begins to distort as soon as creep enters the picture.
Our second item of concern relates to the subject of
buffers, and ,specifically, the recommended buffer of about

1m proposed in Conclusion 4. We do not agree that such an

IEEE Task Force should be recommending such an
important parameter without much more intensive
For a new line planned for high temperature
operation, we suggest that RS method be applied to derive
sagging data and to spot the structures and that the
structure heights then be adjusted by means of one of the H.
T. programs or equivalent as mentioned in this paper. Then
the sagging in can be done with due consideration given to
application of offsets. The needed buffer should then be no
more than and probably less than anything used in the past
for normal temperature operation.
For HT operation of an existing line, the first
imperative is to determine the position of the existing wire,
clamps and insulator string inclinations and with this
knowledge, almost all need for a buffer such as I m has
been removed. The step to HT operation will contain some
small areas of doubt regarding wire properties but not
warranting a buffer of 1m.
We look forward to more detailed discussion of this
question of necessary and sufficient buffers.

Manuscript received February 23, 1998.

J. Stephen Barrett (Ontario Hydro, Toronto, Canada):
Although a member of the Task Force on Bare Conductor
Sag at High Temperature, I would like to add a discussion to
clarify how to fit Eqn. 9 to the multi-span tension-temperature
relationship. The three-parameter fit of Eqn. 9 is best
determined by a least-squares fit to all the data points, but a
simple fit to three points may be more convenient. Given
three points, (To,Ho), (T1,Hi) and (T2,H2),define:



f =1/H:-1/H:

p = T2 - T,
q = H , - H , r = 1I H ; - 1I H:
b = (dr - p f ) I z
c = (ep - q d ) I z
To provide an example of the accuracy of the local ruling
span fit of Eqn. 8 and the 3-parameter fit of Eqn. 9, they
were applied to the 450 ft. (137.2 m) span of Case 1 in the
The first tension column provides the actual tensions,
Ha,, in the 450 ft. (137.2 m) span, based on a multi-span
program. The second column of tensions, H,,, is based on the
ruling span method, where the ruling span is 999.93 ft
(304.8 m). The tension error increases significantly with
The third column of tensions, H,,, is based on the local
ruling span fit of Eqn. 8. In the papers example
computation of the local ruling span, the spring constant AE
is given as which is the aluminum component
alone. The total spring constant, including the steel, is given
by + Based on H, at 10C and
100C from Table I, the local ruling span for the 450 ft.
(137.2 m) span is 860.88 ft. (262.4 m). In this case, the
local ruling span fit is within 67.5 lb. (300 N) of the
actual values.


TABLE I: Tensions in the 450 ft. (137.2m) Span

of L:ipwing ACSR in Case 1




spans between deadends. The most interesting actual test case

appeared in 1994 with an installation at a 100 kV line section
consisting of only four spans, 1183 ft., 975 ft., 300 ft. and
1787 ft. The tension variation measured at the 1183 ft. span
indicated a local7Ruling Span of 1 160-1 190 ft., compared to
the classical Ruling Span of 1399 ft. The multi-span tension
program calculated local Ruling Span value of 1180 ft, i.e.
in close agreement with the measured values. The outline of
this procedure which we call Ruling Span Calibration was
presented at IEEE-PES WPM-95 in a report at TPC
subcommittee meeting.
The importance of the local Ruling Span concept and its
experimental determination is that it is a fundamental tool for
accurate determination of sags in sag-critical spans of the
line section from tensions or sags measured somewhere else in
the line section. The formula (8) of the report and a
description of its use for real time ratings was first published
in [3].
[l] Tapani 0. Seppa: A Practical Approach for Increasing
the Thermal Capabilities of Transmission Lines ZEEE
Transact. on Power Delivery, Vol. 8, No. 3, July 1993, pp.
[2] Tapani 0. Seppa: Accurate Ampacity Determination:
Temperature - Sag Model for Operational Real Time Ratings
IEEE Transact. on Power Delivery, Vol. 10, No. 3, July 1995.

The last column of tensions, H,,, is based on the 3- [3] Tapani 0. Seppa: Power Transmission Line Monitoring
parameter fit of Eqn. 9, using the 3-point fit method described System. U.S. Patent 5,5 17,864, May 2 1, 1996.
above. Using the values of Ha,, at 10C, 5OoC and 100C Manuscript received February 13, 1998.
from Table I, the resulting values of a, b and c are:
a = 29.07051, b = -0.008712633 and c = 3.879675.109.
In this case, the 3-parameter fit is within 6 lb. (27 N) of the Y. Motlis:
actual values.
The authors would like to thank Mr. Freimark for his
comments regarding buffers. AEPs experience in using
Manuscript received February 23, 1998.
buffers and with the effect of the insulator string length on
sags is consistent with our paper findings and
recommendations. We would like to emphasize that the whole
T. 0. Seppa (The Valley Group Inc., Ridgefield, CT): issue of sags and tensions in significantly inclined spans like
Although a member of the above Task Force, and in complete in high mountains is very different than for level spans and,
agreement with the TF document, I would like to add a therefore, is not addressed in our paper. Buffers are normally
discussion to clarify the concept of the local Ruling Span.
added to predicted sag values to take into account possible
errors and effects that have not already been
The data from tension monitoring systems [l] indicated as
the sag calculations. Although creep was not
early as 1992 that in some cases the measured tension
paper, it is normally included in both ruling
variation as a function of conductor temperature was not that
analysis, and so a buffer for creep is not
expected from Ruling Span calculations. Report [2] describes
one method of experimental determination of local Ruling usually required. In ACSR conductors, elevated-temperature
Span length which is applied for determining the conductor creep is often less than creep at lower temperatures because
temperature from the measured tension of a line section. The the aluminum stress decreases with temperature. We would
report also points out that there are other factors than the therefore question why a buffer for elevated-temperature
insulator swing, such as line angles, structure response, creep has been specified. A buffer for creep before sagging-in
deadend insulator properties, elevation differences and the is also not required, firstly because the effect can be computed
uncertainty of conductor properties which affect the and secondly, because creep before sagging-in, like prestressing, is actually beneficial in reducing long-term creep
and sag. Normally, a 61 cm (2 ft) buffer is adequate. But in
In 1992 we developed the earliest complete multi-span sag cases where is a mixture of short and long spans with short
model, which allowed analysis the effect of all the above insulators and the ruling span method is being used, we have
factors for tension variation within line sections of up to 24 suggested a 1 m (3.3 ft) buffer.


Mi. Kluge has drawn attention to a number of situations

that can result in unbalanced tensions between spans.
Although these were not dealt with in the paper, he points out
that they can be included in multi-span methods. Mr. Kluge
also discusses the problems associated with not knowing the
conductors loading history, and the benefits of monitoring
tensions or clearances. If the conductors loading history is
unknown , the permanent strain can be inferred from a few
sag and temperature measurements along the stringing
section, assuming that the stringing conditions are known
(from old line layout drawings, for example) . Although we
are not familiar in detail with all six computer programs
referenced in our paper, we believe that at least some of the
multi-span programs can handle initial tension imbalances.
In response to Dr. Tunstalls comments, the authors agree
that tension equalization is always imperfect for insulator
strings of finite length. This does not, however, render the
ruling span approximation less useful since, as Dr. Tunstall
notes, field measurements of sag are typically within 0.5
meters of calculated values (though he does not indicate the
spans, sags, or tension levels used). The point of the paper is
that the assumption of tension equalization through insulator
swing is seldom perfect but often adequate. We thank Dr.
Tunstall for pointing out an area of possible confusion in our
paper. The source of the confusion appears to be that
swing has been interpreted to mean swing angle, whereas
the authors intended it to mean the distance that the bottom of
the insulator string moves. The tension at which equalization
occurs at support points is a direct function of the horizontal
displacement and not of the swing angle. On another hand,
the swing angle is a function of the insulator length and not
of the horizontal displacement of the support point. As
insulator lengths increase, the swing angles decrease for the
same horizontal displacement; or the horizontal displacement
increase for the same swing angle. The ruling span method,
therefore, overestimates the horizontal displacement.
Mr. Carrington raises the qucstion of the effect of
elevation differences of structures on the results of the study.
We have compared the 10-span test case of level terrain to
another situation, in which the first five spans are in a +lo%
slope, followed by the last five spans in a -10% slope. In
effect, this means that the 1.6 mile (2.6 km) line section
would climb over a 400 A (120 m) ridge. The difference in
sag errors @lOOC conductor temperature to the values
shown in the Table 1 of the report (level span) and non-level
spans is from +O. 1 ft to -0.1 ft (3 cm) in all spans but in span
no. 5 where the difference is 0.3 R (9 cm). It indicates,
though, that in most cases the eKcct of relatively small
slopes on tension equalization is much less than the error
caused by the longitudinal inclination of suspension
insulators. Obviously, in a truly mountainous terrain a multispan sag-tension program is rcquired for accurate
calculations. The purpose of the paper, however, was not to
promote any or all of the multi-span programs, but to
illustrate the limitations of the ruling span method for lines
crossing average rolling terrain in accordance with the
Terms of References of this Task Force supported by all of its
Mr. Carrington inquires about the sources of the statement

that the errors caused by tempcrature variation along line

section are generally less than sag errors caused by
incomplete tension equalization. This is based on several
published reports which indicate that the temperature
variation within a single span is gcnerally larger than the
variation of the average tempcrature of spans in a line section
[1,2]. [2] states: We discovercd.. that if a temperature
sensor is placed each mile on a 20-mile transmission line, the
variations in the measured tcrnpcrature within the span was
greater than the variation among the spans. .
We are pleascd to note that Mr. Carrington and Mr. White
do agree with us that, in gencral, it is essential to specify a
clearance buffer. However, thcy are questioning the Task
Force recommendation of about 1 111 (3.3 ft) buffer for
overhead lines planned for high temperature operation. The
written discussions to this papcr by Mr. Freimark and Dr.
Tunstall, as well as verbal discussions (Mr. W. Peters) during
the presentation of the Task Force Report in Tampa, Florida,
February 1998, are in support of that use of buffers is a
prevailing practice. A recent survey of 47 North American
utilities, conducted in conjunction with a CIGRE survey,
indicated that the average clcarance buffer used by these
utilities for 115-138 kV lines is -3.2 ft (-1 m), and slightly
larger for lines at 230 kV and above... If the recommended in
our paper about 1 m buffer is intcrpreted as a rule of
thumb, we would like to use thc opportunity to clarify for all
readers that it is rather a typical value for design of new lines
and for the existing lines that have not had a condition
survey. Our reply to Mr. Freimark illustrates the point that
the buffer needs not be a fixed value. A careful engineering
study mentioned by Mr. Carrington means to us evaluation
of the condition survey of an existing line. The above
discussions imply that for high temperature operation of
existing lines, an accurate survey and subsequent analysis
could be used to reduce buffers. This assumption is not
generally warranted. For example, data in [4] to Mr.
Carringtons discussion describes line uprating to 95C based
on sag measurements using laser. The line section is very
uniform and in level terrain, with little variation in the span
lengths. Even then, the results show a sag error range of 1.4
ft (0.43 m) at 95OC, depending on which of the measured data
and what calculation method is used.
Mr. White is suggesting including offset clipping as a part
of this report. The Task Force members have agreed that
offset clipping is a very involving topic by itself and,
therefore, should not be a part of this task. We agree with Mr.
White that the initial position of the suspension clamp is
very important to perform longitudinal swing analysis at high
operating temperatures. To address this issue, the following
sentence is included in the paper: The basic assumption for
the numerical examples is that the initial position of the
insulators is vertical, either without or after offset clipping.
That is, during the design stage, if the suspension clamp is
deflecting along the line, it should be brought back to the
vertical position using offset clipping, then, to perform
swing analysis. Prior to the emerged issue of sags at high
temperature operation, many experienced line engineers were
adding a vertical clearance buffer to compensate for well
known inaccuracies in survey, design, drafting, tower


erection, structural flexibility, sag/tension calculation method,

conductor stringing etc. Additional problems surfaced with
operating line conductors at high temperatures.. We do not
agree with Mr. Whites statement that because of the
application of offsets ..the needed buffer should then be no
more and probably less than anything used in the past for
normal temperature operation... When designing a new line,
due to the above mentioned inaccuracies or combinations of
them, a clearance buffer should be added no matter offset
clipping is applied or not.
Mr. Carringtons statement that providing in our paper this
rule of thumb, e.g. 1 m buffer, .. is inappropriate,
misleading and potentially dangerous. . could be addressed
to the Mr. Whites statement that knowing the position of the
existing wire, clamps and insulator string inclinations results
in that .. almost all need for a buffer such as 1 m has been
removed... We would like to re-assure Mr. White that the
ruling span method will be used as the most practical and the
only method to design and string new lines.
Dr. Barretts comparison of the local ruling span and the
3 parameter fit methods should be helpful to readers who
arc trying to decide bctwccn thc two methods. It does occur
to the authors that the diffcrcncc between the two methods is
much smaller than the differcnce bctween actual sags and
those found by either approach. It also seems to the authors
that sag errors at conductor tcrnpcratures (e.g. 5OOC) well
below the maximum (lOOCO are of limited interest to line
designers since thcy do not impact the vertical clearance at
high temperature opcration.
Mr. Seppa is to be thanked for providing additional
comments on the concept of local ruling span. As pointed
out in his references, it is possible to improve the accuracy of
high temperature sag calculation by calculating the tension
variation between suspension spans. It should be pointed out,
however, that the cases whcrcin this is necessary are limited
to those where the ratio of suspension span lengths is quite
large. In the example that Mr. Scppa cites, the ratio of the

longest to the shortcst suspcnsion span is nearly 6. This is

certainly an unusual line dcsign wherein the use of the d i n g
span approximation quite rcasonably lcads to large errors in
calculated sags.
The local ruling span concept is useful for the evaluation
of data logged by a real tinic line monitoring system.
However, it should be seen in a propcr pcrspcctive. It is not
fbndamental in the sense that it can be computed from the
span lengths in a line section. Thc starting point is to make
the approximation that the changc of arc elongation in a
single dead-end span is equal to the change of strain, as
expressed in Eq. 7 of our paper. This is the basis of the
Graphic Method by T. Varncy, dcveloped in 1927. The
formula appears in Winkclmans paper of 1960 and has been
used in various sag-tension programs. The local ruling span
formula, Eq. 8 of our papcr, is simply a rearrangement of the
same old formula, Eq. 7. Thc local ruling span concept is
to use this formula to fit a span to the tension-temperature
relationship, which is either computed by a multi-span
program or observed on an actual line. In the example in our
paper, the long span of intcrest has the tension-temperature
relationship of a short span, lcading to a short fitted local
ruling span. So, the short local ruling span does not
explain the unexpected bchavior; it is the unexpected
behavior that explains why thc local ruling span is short. It
should be pointed out that most utilities with lines in
mountainous terrain have had complete multi-span sagtension programs for dccadcs.
[ 11 T.O. Scppa, A practical approach for increasing the
thermal capabilities of transmission lines, E E E
Transactions on Power Delivcry, vol. 8, no. 3, July 1993.
[Z]M Davis, Discussion rccord , Panel on Dynamic Thermal
Ratings, IEEEPES SPM, 1982, San Francisco, Ca.
Manuscript received August 13, 1998.