Last year PPL Electric Utilities spent almost one billion dollars in reliability investments and that includes a Smart Grid system that has been installed in the midstate.
“Our Smart Grid pilot was actually in Cumberland and Dauphin Counties in 2012 and the results were really great which is why we are rolling it out across the service territory,” said Jessica Long, spokesperson, PPL Electric Utilities.
If a tree falls on a powerline the Smart Grid can detect exactly where the problem is.
“Then our system operators are able to remotely reroute the power around the damage and that can get customers back into service in just a few minutes, long before crews can get out and do the physical repairs,” said Long.
Power will not be restored to all of the affected customers in the outage area, but fewer customers will be left in the dark while repairs are being made. PPL has installed 68 Smart Grid devices in Cumberland County over the last year benefiting 31,000 customers.
Crews are already moving onto phase 2 of the project, installing new capacitor banks, which will help engineers remotely control voltage.
“It helps us because it cuts down on our time and our costs which ultimately comes back to the rate payers,” said Long.
Overall PPL has installed 400 devices benefiting 150 thousand customers in the midstate.
The company expects to spend 5.7 Billion over the next 5 years to continue improvements. The costs of reliability upgrades do get passed onto customers on the delivery side of the bill. Customers can shop for rates on what they pay for their actual usage by their supplier at www.papowerswitch.com.