October’s Hurricane Matthew put the smart grid to the ultimate test. The tropical cyclone packing sustained winds of up to 150mph cut off power to 2.2 million homes and businesses in the U.S. Southeast. In the final analysis, the smart grid performed well against such extreme weather. By making the grid self-healing, advanced sensors and automation helped utilities avert prolonged outages. Here’s how Florida Power & Light and other utilities were able to out-smart Hurricane Matthew and other storms.
Florida Power & Light
Technology: Thanks to FPL’s installation of early-warning flood detectors at its substations, the utility was able to turn off power in advance of Hurricane Matthew’s approaching flood, and prevent permanent damage to substations, the Wall Street Journal reports. Also, advanced gear allowed for the automatic re-route of electricity flow around troubled spots.
Result: Most of FPL’s 1 million customers who lost power were restored within three days. With fewer crew needed to recover circuits, FPL saved lots of time and money.
ConEdison – New York
Technology: In the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, ConEdison rolled-out its $ 1 billion storm-hardening initiative. Installations included “smart switches” along overhead wiring to improve resiliency and reduce outages.
Result: During the Blizzard of 2016 this past January, the utility averted more than 1,000 power outages, with all customers restored within three days.
Southern Company – Gulf Power
Technology: Gulf Power’s storm-hardening efforts have included installing 700 advanced reclosers that re-energize power lines experiencing temporary faults.
Result: Since 2010, this initiative has reduced the length and number of power outages by 40%, the WSJ reports.
Duke Energy Florida
Technology: Duke has spent $2.4 billion since 2004 to upgrade its network, including the installation of new grid automation and smart grid devices.
Result: After Tropical Storm Hermine hit in September, Duke Energy Florida prevented 25,000 of its customers from outages. This alone saved 3 million minutes of power interruptions. Also this year, its grid automation effectively averted 10 million minutes of service interruption.
Digital meters and grid automation help accelerate outage detection and reroute electricity around trouble spots. Utilities are now able to bounce back from storms in record time. Faced with the ultimate cost-benefit analysis, many utilities are seeing the smart grid pay off.
SSS stands ready to support utilities who are faced with the impact of natural disasters. Our utility engineering services team can provide immediate field staffing resources to help utilities get their smart grid back online. Services including grid surveying and smart meter maintenance can help minimize the disruptions caused by mother nature and reduce downtime.