Why Sandy makes the smart grid more important than ever


Line crews and support personnel from FirstEnergy utilities in Ohio headed east Monday to help with restoration efforts


It would be unfair to send utility workers out in the storm without raingear and tools. It is increasingly unfair to send them out without the protection and assistance of automation. Here are five examples of ways that utilities are getting more resilient through the application of smart grid technologies.


·         Chattanooga EPB's self-healing grid uses a high level of smart grid automation. Earlier this year it completed installation of S&C Electric's IntelliRupter PulseCloser technology, which is expected to cut power outage duration by 40%.

·         Long Island Power Authority is transitioning to a new outage computer system, but it won't be in place until next year, according to Newsday. However, since Tropical Storm Irene, the utility has made significant upgrades to its existing outage reporting system and made automated outreach calls to most customers in advance of Sandy.

·         Commonwealth Edison has made grid hardening and reliability a cornerstone - though not yet installed --of its massive smart grid modernization effort which is currently stalled by the Illinois Commerce Commission.

·         Entergy Louisiana improvements after Hurricane Katrina devastation and later storms focused on a number of areas, including using smart grid technology to reroute power when feeder lines go down.

·         Western Massachusetts Electric Co. added advanced automation to reinforce its electric grid after last fall’s nor’easter, which saw more than 140,000 of its customers losing power.


East Coast utilities bring in reinforcements

Even the smartest electric grid can't totally outmaneuver Mother Nature. Major disasters like Sandy will still require emergency responders who risk life and limb in the worst of circumstances to restore power. Over the weekend we started to see a steady stream of announcements like these:


·         Additional line crews deployed to Jersey Central Power & Light service areas in advance of Hurricane Sandy-- With Hurricane Sandy expected to slam New Jersey as early as Monday, Jersey Central Power & Light's (JCP&L) 400 linemen and 1,200 additional line personnel from as far away as Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio will help restore customers who could be without power from seven to 10 days as a result of anticipated damage from the storm.  Restoration work will begin as soon as the storm passes and it is safe for utility workers.

·         Oncor sends crews to help Northeast after Hurricane Sandy-- Oncor crews departed North Texas for Baltimore, MD, this morning to assist with potential outages that Hurricane Sandy is expected to leave in its wake in the next couple of days.

·         EMCs send crews to help restore power-- Approximately 85 electric linemen and a large contingent of equipment from 11 electric cooperatives in Georgia are headed to Maryland to help restore power in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.


The Edison Electric Institute has posted a multimedia gallery focused on Sandy restoration efforts and utility responders from around the country. And a couple of videos provide a glimpse of what crews are dealing with:

·         Delaware Electric Cooperative linemen take on Hurricane Sandy

·         BGE sets up staging area for Sandy workers


More on the smart grid and outages...

Northeast storm aftermath - how a smarter grid could help

Power outages and heat waves: So where's the smart grid when we need it?

Power restored after massive San Diego blackout, but questions remain

India's massive power blackout: Could smart grids help?