Copy this utility: PPL Electric reports quantifiable smart grid reliability benefits

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By: SGN Staff

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Quick Take: You've heard me say that utilities should be tying their smart grid outreach to reliability and resilience, themes customers and policymakers are eager to hear. And you've heard me say that utilities need to proactively report on the quantifiable benefits arising from their smart grid projects. (Rather than wave their arms around and spout vague generalities.) Here is a Pennsylvania utility that is doing both. It just issued a release saying that customers are gaining a 38% improvement in service reliability thanks to a smart grid pilot. Nicely done. - By Jesse Berst

 

PPL Electric Utilities’ Smart Grid Improving Reliability in Harrisburg Area

System automation results in 38 percent boost in service reliability

 

Less than a year after PPL Electric Utilities completed its smart grid pilot project, customers in Dauphin and Cumberland counties are already experiencing a 38 percent improvement in service reliability, meaning fewer power interruptions and shorter outage duration.

 

The three-year, $38 million project, supported by a federal stimulus grant, involved installation of hundreds of automated devices along 50 local distribution circuits serving about 60,000 customers. It also included upgrades to 10 area electric substations across 150 square miles and development of a dedicated, secure communications system. The reliability improvement was noted on the performance of the newly automated circuits compared with non-automated circuits in the region over the past two years.

 

“We’re encouraged by the early success of the PPL smart grid in the Harrisburg area,” said David Bonenberger, vice president, Distribution Operations. “We’re implementing a stronger, more modern distribution system to better serve our customers for years to come.”

 

With this technology, smart devices alert system operators in real time when an outage occurs and allow them to remotely reroute power flow to quickly restore as many customers as possible.

 

In the event of a local interruption – such as a tree falling on a power line – within the next few years the smart grid sensors will detect the fault and automatically send energy to another circuit serving the area. It will happen in a matter of moments so the majority of customers only experience a momentary interruption.