power distribution

The Electric Power Board of Chattanooga (EPB) has managed to keep the electric power on for about 90% of Chattanooga's electricity users.In spite of several rounds of violent storms impacting its service areas this week, EPB’s smart grid has kept the electric power on for about 90% of Chattanooga's electricity users who would have otherwise experienced an outage, reported the Times Free Press. [Pennsylvania utility installs sensors to address power outages]

EPB spokesman John Pless said: "Smart grid automation either prevented or automatically restored more than 23,000 customer outages, with almost 2,100 customers experiencing outages of greater than five minutes.”

Grid restoration

The Times adds that by 4pm in the afternoon yesterday, less than 200 EPB customers were still without power "and crews will continue working until all the damage can be repaired and service is restored,” said Pless.

The smart grid uses fiber optic communication links and intelliruptors to monitor and control the flow of electricity along EPB power lines. That allows the utility to redirect the flow of power when there is an outage in a particular area.

Boosting EPB’s restoration efforts is a 2010 grant of more than $111 million from the Department of Energy, EPB installed the smart grid along with its fiber telecommunications network across its 600-square-mile (1553.99 km) service territory.

In response to heavy rains and winds early today, Pless said EPB crews and tree contractors also worked through the night and into today to repair damage and restore service to most customers affected.

FPL installs smart grid switches

In related news, Florida Power and Light has begun installing smart grid switches to fix electricity outage problems automatically that would traditionally have to be repaired manually. [US consumers will pay more for less outages, GE survey finds]

According to the Florida Power and Light (FPL), the smart grid device - an automated lateral switch is making aggravating power outages, such as those caused by a fallen tree branch on a neighbourhood line, less likely throughout its 35-county service area.

It adds that while crews will still have to respond to major outages caused by lightning strikes, deploying the smart switches on neighbourhood lines can fix more common outages and quickly restore service.