Question:

Question:

What is one specific innovation or advancement you expect–or hope–to see in power distribution over the next decade?


Answer:

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Nick Abi-Samra, senior technical director, EPRIsolutions
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“As cell phones have revolutionized personal communications, the all-solid-state intelligent universal transformer (IUT), being developed cooperatively by EPRI, will revolutionize distribution system operations in the coming decades. The IUT will support multiple functions, such as voltage transformation, voltage regulation, voltage sag correction, power factor control, and non-standard customer voltages (for example, DC and 400-hertz AC). Furthermore, it will be interoperable with system controls, will be both smaller and lighter than today’s conventional, single-function transformers, will offer the advantage of modularity (which will reduce spare parts inventories), and it will contain no hazardous liquid dielectrics. As such, IUTs will be the cornerstone of advanced distribution automation.”

Answer:


Terry Nielsen, senior vice president, product strategy & quality, CES International.
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“Innovative utilities will make a quantum leap forward in autonomous operation of their power distribution systems through inventive, financially prudent methods. Designers and operators will have to consider radical changes to design, operation and construction. For example, feeders that can operate in both mesh and radial configurations will become practical. System planning and design, distribution automation, power flow analysis, outage management, and automated meter reading will be more closely integrated to facilitate these approaches.

“The end result will be self-correcting distribution systems with an order of magnitude improvement in reliability and percentage point increases in operating efficiency.”

Answer:


Matt Oja, director of emerging technologies, Progress Energy
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“I’m very optimistic that ubiquitous, internet protocol (IP)-based broadband networks will soon enable near-instantaneous communications with the distribution system. Broadband over power lines (BPL) looks very promising today, and emerging wireless technologies hold great potential as well. Equipment vendors are finally starting to embrace IP-compatible equipment, so utilities won’t need to depend on proprietary protocols or custom interfaces to share data.

“We’ll be able to manage our systems much more efficiently once we have higher resolution on system conditions. With wide-scale equipment interoperability, we’ll be far better at predicting failure points, reducing outage times and understanding local power demands. The impact on reliability–and profitability–will be enormous.”

Answer:


Bill Martino, president, Cooper Power Systems
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“With the need to do more with less, automation will be an increasingly important part of the power system of the future. We have to be able to collect increasing amounts of data, organize the data into an easy-to-use form, and make decisions on operation, performance, and the condition of system equipment. Multiple layers of communication will form the backbone of this ‘intelligence network.’

“Microprocessor-based equipment with advanced current and voltage sensors will make adaptive power system protection possible. Automatic setting adjustments can then be made to accommodate changing system conditions. The result will be an improvement in reliability and overall system performance U a winning combination.”

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