Duke Energy boosts grid automation as hurricane season begins


June 1 marks the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season and Duke Energy claims not to waste any time in preparing its grid to maximise resilience and prevent outages.

Besides trimming trees and inspecting and replacing wires and wood poles, the company has also invested in grid automation and smart technologies to reduce the duration and number of outages and restore service faster when outages do occur.

Duke Energy’s smart-thinking grid automatically detects outages and intelligently reroutes power to speed restoration or avoid outages altogether.

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Self-healing technology helped to avoid nearly 600,000 extended customer outages in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida in 2020, saving more than 1 million hours of total outage time. Over the next few years, Duke Energy expects to install enough self-healing technology to serve most customers.

“We’ve been making upgrades across our system to build a stronger and smarter power grid to serve our customers,” said Scott Batson, senior vice president and Duke Energy’s chief distribution officer. “Our crews are ready to respond when the next hurricane strikes. The improvements we have made, and will continue to make, will provide real benefits to customers and communities and help us restore power faster when they count on us most.”

After a storm, Duke Energy crews must physically inspect miles of power line to ensure everyone’s power is restored, which is a time-consuming task. To mitigate this, Duke crews can now access technology called Ping-it to remotely check that service has been restored following repairs. Ping-it sends a signal to each meter in a few seconds to confirm repairs were successful. This saves time and frees up crews to help other customers.

Duke Energy has installed more than 8.5 million smart meters, providing new technology to better serve customers in six states.

The 2021 Atlantic season runs through to 30 November and Duke Energy meteorologists forecast 20 storms and nine hurricanes for 2021. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts 13 to 20 named storms and six to 10 hurricanes.