PPL: Reliability efforts cut outages by 20 percent
Energize Weekly, August 12, 2015
Upgrades in outage prevention by Pennsylvania-based PPL Electric Utilities prevented nearly 200,000 power outages this year, the company’s chief executive said last week.
“Our investments are really paying off for our customers,” said PPL President Greg Dudkin. “As we continue to use technology and harden our system even further, people will enjoy even more reliability in the future.”
According to PPL, power outages were down 20 percent from levels seen in 2008-2011, before PPL launched its current reliability program, which included investments in smart grid technology, keeping trees away from lines, and installing stronger poles and wires. PPL says that it has spent more than $1 billion per year in this effort.
The company says that after analyzing historic outage data from 2008-2011 and projecting that trend forward, it estimates that 190,765 outages were prevented in the first half of 2015 compared to the same period in 2008 through 2011. In 2011, the company and its customers experienced the second largest storm in PPL’s recent history, Hurricane Irene. About 388,000 customers lost power.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, after the experiences of Irene, PPL implemented a $38 million Smart Grid Investment Grant towards the maintenance and reliability of its distribution system, installing a distribution management system and distribution automation devices, with a pilot program in Harrisburg. The system implements voltage control strategies that can result in reduced customer energy use and lower distribution line losses, preventing outages.
PPL Electric Utilities, a subsidiary of PPL Corporation, has about 1.4 million residential and business customers and is based in Allentown, PA. PPL says it plans to cover roughly half its service territory with smart grid technologies by 2016-2017.