smart reclosers
48837360 - electrical substation scene - vector illustration

FirstEnergy's Potomac Edison will reportedly test prototype smart reclosers to cut down the duration of power outages.Potomac Edison Eastern serves 137,000 customers inf the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. Company spokesperson,Todd Meyers, said: "The Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, particularly Berkeley County, is among the fastest-growing portions of our West Virginia service area.

“We are looking for suitable candidates in the Eastern Panhandle to expand the automated, smart recloser technology explored in Garrett County, Maryland.”

According to the utility company, the smart grid solution could cut down the duration of power outages for thousands of FirstEnergy‘s Potomac Edison customers in the Eastern Panhandle to about 60 seconds.

According to the State Journal, in January, Potomac Edison engineers installed seven smart reclosers or electronic circuit breakers at strategic intervals along two interconnected lines in Oakland, Maryland. The smart reclosers act as a protective device, that has the ability to sense a problem or fault on the line, such as a tree branch or failed equipment.

Meyers told the State Journal that "these high-tech devices [smart reclosers] are designed to open and interrupt the power if the problem persists for more than a few seconds, which causes an outage, but ultimately saves major damage to equipment that could lead to costly and lengthy repairs and longer outages.

Smart recloser technology

He added that the new technology prevents significant outages for customers by operating automatically, temporarily reconfiguring the electrical system so most customers can be fed with electricity even while repairs are being made.

“All this happens within 60 seconds of the initial problem being detected,” Meyers explained.

“They are programmable, which means that without any human intervention they can sense the problem and work in concert with the other programmable reclosers along the line to operate automatically to reconfigure the system in a matter of seconds, isolating the problem and greatly limiting the number of customers affected by the outage,” he continued.

“These infrastructure enhancements are necessary to serve the influx of new residents and businesses to our Potomac Edison service territory,” Potomac Edison vice president James A. Sears Jr. said.

“At the same time, we also are working on projects designed to help enhance the day-to-day service we provide our customers, such as replacing older underground cables and improving existing overhead facilities.”