Imagine if the Internet completely
crashed due to a failure of a single router somewhere, and
you had to wait for an expert to locate the problem and fix
it. While this sometimes happens, we are more accustomed to
the Internet automatically "self-healing" and routing data
around the problem areas. So many problems on the Internet
occur and are detected and avoided without us ever knowing.
The grid of today operates more like an office network than
the Internet, and there is often little warning of brewing
issues. Grid intelligence brings aspects of "self-healing"
and automation—or at the very least, monitoring—to
the grid, helping prevent trouble before it occurs.
Reducing risk of unexpected equipment
Transformers are key components of an electric
grid. A catastrophic failure of a critical transformer would
result in power outages in the downstream network and could
cause significant economic and environmental challenges. Smart
grid monitoring and
diagnostics technologies help utilities maximize asset
performance and reduce unexpected transformer failure and
subsequent power outages through alerts, detection, diagnosis,
and prognosis. By monitoring different conditions within the
transformer, such as gas levels, smart sensors will detect
and report potential problems back to the utility in real-time.
The information sent to the utility can be stored and analyzed
by advanced software, helping predict and prevent potential
transformer failure before it happens.
Compare this to the past, when utility personnel would drive
around manually inspecting transformers on the grid and periodically
extracting transformer oil for laboratory testing—typically,
not as often as they should.
Smart grid asset optimization
technologies help maximize asset performance and life for
just a small fraction of what it would cost to replace them
all together. In addition to improving grid reliability by
predicting and preventing asset failure, these technologies
also have environmental benefits -- preventing spills of oil
and other environmentally hazardous material when transformers
Automation, Monitoring & Control
Smart grid technologies help utilities improve power reliability
through smart devices, automation technologies, and applications
that adapt in real time. Utilities are able to monitor performance
and identify outages, restore power, and precisely dispatch
crews. The result: less "downtime" and happier customers.
In fact, by 2020, smart grid technologies could decrease power
interruptions by over 75% and save American industry more
than $50 billion dollars.1
Smart grid automation
technologies, such as distribution management systems and
outage management systems, can work in conjunction with smart
meters and advanced metering infrastructure to provide real-time
knowledge of the grid's status, enabling utilities to prevent
trouble before it occurs.
In the case of an outage situation, these technologies will
help alert the utility to exactly which homes and businesses
are out of service-before a customer ever has to call. Geospatial
information systems (GIS)—much like Google maps for
the grid—will help utilities more easily and efficiently
direct repair crews. In fact, mobile workforce applications
empower smarter crews with this information on the road.
In advanced applications, monitoring and control technologies—known
as fault diagnosis, isolation and restoration—can help
mitigate the problem before deploying a repair crew. Using
monitoring and control software, utilities will be able to
identify problems on the grid and automatically reroute power
to isolate damage and impact. Technically, these technologies
help detect and isolate faulted feeder sections by opening
and closing the necessary switches to restore power to the
healthy feeder section within seconds. Once isolated, crews
will immediately be dispatched to correct any problems.