PPL’s $140M smart-grid investment pays off with shorter outages
A power outage that once lasted one to two hours now lasts one to two minutes.
That’s according to officials from PPL Electric Utilities of South Whitehall Township, which has been using smart-grid technology to reduce the length of time businesses and other customers experience power outages.
“It definitely restores power more quickly not only from storms but an outage caused by any other source,” said Paul Wirth, spokesman for PPL Electric Utilities. “We’ve been working on the smart-grid technology for some time.”
The company invested $140 million in the equipment and technology, which was installed this summer and is now fully activated, he said.
The system led to significantly shorter power outages for thousands of homes and businesses in two recent rounds of thunderstorms, he said.
The company installed and tested the technology throughout its territory and is planning to install more sensors the next few years to cover more territory, Wirth said. The technology includes sensors installed on poles that detect outages. The company installed about 3,700 of them and is looking to install another 1,000, he said.
The smart-grid technology offers automated power restoration, which reduces the amount of time needed to restore power. Rather than restore power manually, a central computer can rapidly analyze the problem, and remote control switches immediately reroute power and restore service.
During severe thunderstorms the week of July 18, the PPL smart grid restored 9,488 homes and businesses to service in an average of one minute and 56 seconds. The following week, during another round of severe storms, the technology restored 5,308 customers automatically in an average of one minute and 36 seconds, the company said.
Automated power restoration is the latest in a series of reliability improvements made by PPL.