The story after a hurricane is usually about how hard the local utility is working to restore power to its customers. In this case, it’s about how the utility is helping them keep the lights on during the storm.
Duke Energy, a utility that supplies power to about 1.7 million customers in Florida, announced its smart-thinking grid technology enabled “rapid power restoration” during Hurricane Idalia.
The utility uses advanced automated technology to quickly identify outages and find alternative paths to deliver power to customers. This so-called “self-healing grid” restores service faster to customers when an outage occurs. This also enables the utility to more efficiently send lineworkers to restore power at other locations where they are needed.
According to Duke, the technology helped avoid more than 17,000 outages and saved customers more than 5 million outage minutes during the recent storm, which arrived as a category 4 hurricane. It caused widespread flooding, damage and outages that impacted nearly 200,000 of the utility’s customers before it moved north into Georgia and beyond.
Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president, said the self-healing technology automatically detects power outages and quickly reroutes power to restore service faster or avoid outages altogether, “like GPS technology helps drivers avoid traffic accidents.”
The technology’s self-healing powers are made possible by remote sensors and monitoring, and advanced communication systems that combine to deliver information from multiple points, allowing the grid to make real-time decisions and deliver more reliable power. Duke adds that the system cannot avoid damage caused by forces of nature, but it can minimize the impact of those damages on power delivery.
More than 60% of Duke’s Florida customers are benefiting from the advanced smart-grid technology. The utility plans to increase that number to 80% over the next few years.