Early last month, PPL Electric Utilities, which provides electric delivery service to more than 1.4 million homes and businesses in Pennsylvania announced that it has successfully avoided one million customer outages in the past five years.
PPL thanks its smart grid technology, which instantaneously reroutes power in the event of a problem, for keeping outage areas contained to the smallest possible footprint.
In the past five-plus years, PPL estimates its smart grid automated power restoration network has helped customers avoid 100 million minutes in the dark in preventing those 1 million outages. Those minutes translate into a lot of time – more than 190 years.
“This is a milestone born of innovation and imagination, one we believe has no equal in the U.S. utility industry,” said PPL Electric Utilities President Greg Dudkin. “It represents our commitment to using technology to benefit our customers and to providing superior reliability.”
The smart grid network – a combination of sensors and switches, coupled with advanced software systems — is part of a significant investment made by PPL in the power grid overall over the past decade.
During that time, the company also has rebuilt aging power lines and added more storm-resistant wires and poles, instituted innovative data-driven equipment maintenance and replacement programs, and more. Other initiatives, like a comprehensive tree trimming and removal program, also play a key role in reliability improvements over time.
PPL’s collective reliability efforts, bolstered by its smart grid gains, have reduced the average frequency of outages across its grid by nearly a third since 2011.
The company continues to seek out new ways to improve reliability, like a battery in service near Harrisburg to provide power to customers in the event of an outage on the line serving their rural area. The customer experience would be essentially the same as smart grid automated power restoration, except instead of reconnecting to the grid, homes would be temporarily powered by the battery. The technology is being considered for other areas in the PPL footprint.
“Hitting a million avoided outages is a great achievement, but just as significant is our commitment to deliver for our customers every day, around the clock,” Dudkin said. “We don’t advance without that purpose as our foundation.”
Resiliency is the focus of the November DISTRIBUTECH+ series. We’ll be offering sessions on vegetation management, communication assisted protection, and microgrids. Register for FREE to see the specific sessions and speakers who will be presenting on this important topic.