PPL Electric Utilities plans to bring automated grid technology to Monroe County next year, a $10 million project that will improve the reliability of electric service to 70,000 customers, according to a release from the power company.
Design and engineering work completed this year will open the way for the installation of 230 automated devices on 52 distribution circuits as well as upgrades to 16 area electric substations, mainly in Monroe County. PPL says the bulk of the construction work will be performed between March and November of 2013, with full benefits in place in 2014.
The automated distribution system will sense where a problem occurs on the line, such as a fallen tree, animal contact or vehicle accident, and automatically reroute power from other lines — all in a matter of moments so that the majority of customers only experience a momentary interruption, according to PPL. It will also help crews to identify the location of the damage, eliminating the time normally spent on inspecting lines that can be miles long.
“We targeted Monroe County for this project because we believe it’s an area where automation would have the most benefits, in terms of improving reliability for our customers,” said Paul Canevari, PPL’s regional community relations director for the Pocono region. “Our goal is to reduce the number of outages and outage length. With improved reliability, we hope to better satisfy our customers in the area.”
Historically, customers in the Pocono region have experienced more outages of longer duration than the average PPL customer. This is partly due to the wooded and mountainous terrain in the region, Canevari said.
“Our power lines pass through many heavily forested areas in northeastern Pennsylvania. When tree limbs fall on wires and poles, the new automated devices will detect situations like this and automatically reroute power around downed lines,” said Canevari. “So, we believe we’ll have fewer customers affected by outages and shorter duration interruptions.”