SaskPower

US utility, Avangrid Networks, service provider to 3.2 million customers, is developing a comprehensive and robust resiliency plan to reduce the impact of storms on its operations.

The $2.5 billion plan entitled Transforming Energy includes hardening power grids of the company’s eight utility subsidiaries to withstand storms.

Avangrid Networks will install technologies including $500 million advanced metering infrastructure in New York, to help customers better manage their energy consumption.

The plan will be implemented over the next ten years to help reduce outage response time during storms, as well as improve consumer energy management through access to real time energy usage data and participation in time of use energy tariff programmes.

Key elements of the plan include:

  • Accelerated replacement of wood poles based on a specific list of criteria including physical condition, structural deficiencies and recent circuit performance;
  • Increased use of insulated spacer cable or “tree wire” to minimise outages in the instance of tree contact;
  • An analysis of areas where electrical infrastructure hardening, including undergrounding or new technologies such as batteries or microgrids, would be cost beneficial based on circuit performance;
  • More aggressive “ground to sky” tree trimming and the identification and remediation of hazardous trees outside the right-of-way along critical infrastructure;
  • Targeted distribution circuit upgrades to improve grid structure to minimise impact and provide alternative sources of supply to speed up restoration flexibility

Bob Kump, CEO of Avangrid Networks, said:  “Over the past 16 months alone, Avangrid Networks’ utilities in Maine, New York and Connecticut have incurred over $450 million in storm damage and restoration costs.

“As these weather patterns become the new norm, it is imperative that we implement a long-term plan to harden our grid and help ensure that our customers experience the level of reliability they expect from their energy company regardless of the weather.

“As we develop our plan, a key focus will be on tree-related interruptions, which are the leading cause of outages.

“Eighty percent of storm-related outages are caused by trees, over half of which are outside of our right-of-way. That’s why we will look to improve our vegetation management protocols, working collaboratively with local municipalities, public works entities and individual customers to tackle potential problems both inside and outside of our right-of-way.”

Avangrid Networks owns eight electric and natural gas utilities operating in New York and New England.