Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric illuminating and Toledo Edison are planning to spend $450 million in modernising energy distribution networks over a period of three years. The investment will help First Energy Utilities to improve visibility of distribution networks in order to reduce the occurrence and duration of power outages.
The projects will cover portions of distribution networks to reduce outages under normal circumstances by 30% and reduce restoration time by 25%.
The upgrades will increase the resiliency of the grid network during bad weather. The projects will enable the integration of the energy system with next generation smart technologies and distributed energy resources including electric vehicles.
Steve Strah, President, First Energy Utilities, commented: "Portions of our system were originally designed to serve hundreds of customers on single, standalone lines, meaning a single outage could leave many customers without power until repairs are made.
"Our plan would allow us to isolate damage to a confined area and allow other customers along the line to be quickly restored by rerouting power from nearby lines. These investments will help us meet our customers' high expectations by reducing outages and restoring power faster across our Ohio footprint." [First Energy optimise subsidiary operations with system upgrade].
“FirstEnergy estimates that the cost of these projects would comprise about two percent of the typical residential customer's monthly bill,” according to a statement
The projects will include the installation of:
- Circuit ties – Help prevent or shorten outages by tying adjacent lines together and creating multiple paths for power to flow to customers.
- Reconductoring – Enhance reliability by installing larger wires that support greater power flows from multiple sources and increase a line's ability to withstand adverse weather.
- Reclosers – Allow grid operators to isolate an outage to the immediate area where damage occurs, which decreases the number of customers affected by an outage by allowing power lines to be divided into smaller sections.
- Data Acquisition Systems – Incorporate software that allows grid operators to remotely monitor and react to power grid conditions in real-time to help prevent outages and restore power faster.
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