Tag Archives: reliability

Hurricane Sandy cuts power for millions. Why aren’t utility lines underground?

An interesting article relating the benefits of underground power in the face a bad weather.


Hurricane Sandy cuts power for millions. Why aren’t utility lines underground? – CSMonitor.com.

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FPL to invest about $15bn through 2014 on smart grid, other measures | TransmissionHub

FPL to invest about $15bn through 2014 on smart grid, other measures | TransmissionHub.

Florida Power & Light (FPL) expects to invest about $15bn over the five-year period that began in 2010 and runs through 2014, or about $3bn a year, on smart grid technology and other measures, a company spokesperson told TransmissionHub May 21.

“Our investments are designed to strengthen and improve Florida’s electric generation and delivery system to maintain our strong reliability while helping keep customer bills low over the long term through the use of fuel-efficient generation technologies,” the spokesperson said.

Examples of such investments include storm hardening, that is, a multi-year investment that is helping FPL prepare for major storms, making the grid stronger and more resilient, the spokesperson said.

Other examples include the expansion and enhancement of FPL’s existing nuclear power plants and the deployment of advanced smart grid technology throughout the grid, the spokesperson said.

According to the company, through its “Energy Smart Florida” initiative, it is investing in advanced technologies that include intelligent devices on the electric grid, enhancements to centers that monitor grid performance and 4.5 million smart meters for customers.

“We’re investing in a variety of improvements to an electric grid that spans 27,000 square miles – such as the installation of advanced technology that helps speed restoration time and even prevent some outages from impacting customers,” the spokesperson said.

In March, FPL said it plans to invest more than $200m this year to continue strengthening the electric grid and keep service reliability high. In 2011, FPL continued to take steps to strengthen its electrical infrastructure and to enhance its emergency response capabilities, including pole inspections, system infrastructure hardening and vegetation management.

This year, FPL plans to inspect 137,000 distribution poles and reinforce or replace those that no longer meet the company’s strength standards. FPL also said it plans to begin a new six-year inspection cycle of its transmission structures and complete all remaining follow-up work identified in 2011. Last year, the company replaced more than 10,000 utility poles after inspecting them for strength, including poles along local (distribution) and main (transmission) lines.

The company further noted that it will continue strengthening projects for feeders (main lines) that serve critical infrastructure facilities like hospitals. Also this year, FPL will continue its approved cycle plans to clear more than 12,000 miles of vegetation from its distribution lines and clear all of its transmission rights of way.

Among other things, FPL said it has reduced the average number of service interruptions for customers by about 15% since 2007.

Regarding strengthening the system against severe weather, FPL said a key focus of its storm preparedness program this year includes 27 main power lines and 14 additional neighborhood power line projects. Additionally, FPL is continuing to upgrade its high-voltage transmission lines by replacing wood structures with concrete or steel.

FPL is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE).

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Utilities to spend millions on grid  – Business – Charleston Daily Mail – West Virginia News and Sports –

Utilities to spend millions on grid  – Business – Charleston Daily Mail – West Virginia News and Sports –.

The two largest electric companies in West Virginia say millions of dollars of upgrades approved by the region’s grid operator will maintain reliable electric power supplies in the wake of recently announced power plant retirements.

Upgrades at Appalachian Power Co., FirstEnergy, and other electric utilities were approved Thursday by PJM, the region’s grid operator.

Appalachian Power, a unit of American Electric Power, serves almost 500,000 customers across southern West Virginia and a like number in Virginia.

Spokeswoman Jeri Matheney said projects approved for American Electric Power and its subsidiaries in West Virginia total about $300 million. The projects include:

  • Construction of a new transmission line along the route of an existing line that links a transmission station next to the Kanawha River plant at Glasgow and the Amos plant near Winfield at an estimated cost of $150 million.
  • A new interconnection at the Philip Sporn plant at New Haven, a new transformer at the Mountaineer plant at New Haven, and the construction of a 3/4-mile high voltage line to Sporn at a total cost of $65 million.
  • Improvements at the Kammer transmission station near Moundsville at a cost of $60 million.
  • Improvements to a 13-mile transmission line linking the Kammer transmission station to a site in West Bellaire, Ohio, southwest of Wheeling, at a cost of $20 million.

American Electric Power announced in March that it would retire more than 4,600 megawatts of coal-fired power generation, primarily to comply with a series of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

As previously reported, the company’s Appalachian Power unit plans to close three plants in West Virginia: Kanawha River, Kammer and Sporn.

At the time the closures were announced Nick Akins, American Electric’s president and chief executive officer, said, “We continue to have serious concerns about the potential impact these plant retirements – and retirements of generation announced by other utilities – will have on the reliability of the electricity grid.

“Our retiring units were required to run to meet peak demand last summer, and little new generation is scheduled to come on line prior to the retirement dates to replace this lost generating capacity.”

Matheney said of the approved upgrades, “This is our solution to ensuring the reliability of the grid. We will have to invest in transmission to shore up our infrastructure because of the plant closings.”

The upgrades will be done between now and June 2015 when the plants scheduled for closure are shuttered, she said.

FirstEnergy, the successor to Allegheny Energy, serves 522,000 customers in northern West Virginia. The company’s largest approved project in West Virginia is the construction of a new transmission line linking Buckhannon and Weston at an estimated cost of $17.5 million.

In February FirstEnergy announced it will close its Albright Power Station in Preston County; its Willow Island Power Station on the Ohio River in Pleasants County; and its Rivesville Power Station near Fairmont in Marion County.

Mark Durbin, a FirstEnergy spokesman, said that when the plant retirements were announced, PJM conducted an analysis and determined that not much needed to be done to bolster the grid in the company’s West Virginia service territory.

Durbin said most of FirstEnergy’s work will be in the Cleveland area, where several of the company’s power plants will be retired.

The PJM region includes 60 million people in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

PJM’s Interconnection Board approved a total of nearly $2 billion in electric transmission upgrades.

Since November, power plant owners in the region have announced plans to retire nearly 14,000 megawatts of generation by the end of 2015, PJM said. That’s enough power to supply the state of Indiana’s needs for a year.

Contact writer George Hohmann at busin…@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.

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Winter Park buries power lines in project that may last 17 years

As a way to increase system reliability and also to beautify the area, Winter Park, Florida is working on a long-term project to bury power lines underground.  Winter Park buries power lines in project that may last 17 years.

9:41 p.m. EST, May 20, 2012|By Anika Myers Palm, Orlando Sentinel

The Winter Park of 2029 will look different from today’s city in at least one big way: Most of the city won’t have power poles or overhead electrical lines.

For the next 17 years or so, crews will be digging up streets and burying cables in a $70 million effort to beautify the city and make it less vulnerable to the power failures that occur when storms blow down lines.

City officials say the change has been welcomed by residents of Winter Park, where tree-lined streets, a point of civic pride, can be marred by power lines.

“The city did a survey, and the vast majority of citizens wanted utilities underground,” said Jerry Warren, director of the Winter Park Electric Utility Department.

So far, about 79 miles of electrical cables have been buried. That number includes subdivisions and condominiums built with underground lines from the start.

That leaves another another 79 miles to go, said Warren, whose office is coordinating contractors who are burying cable. The project is funded by profits from the utility, formed in 2005 when residents voted to break away from Progress Energy. The utility manages electrical service but buys power from other utilities.

Most of the “undergrounding” has occurred along main thoroughfares. Residents have two choices: They can wait for the city to get around to burying the wires on their streets, which could take a decade or more; or they can be part of what the city has called its “plug-in program,” which allows residents to share the cost of burying the wires on their street with the city. The plug-in option is less popular, Warren said.

Other municipal utilities have underground wiring, but Winter Park’s effort to bury cables that are still overhead is unusual. In Orlando, 1,181 miles, or about 61 percent of the city’s power lines, are underground, said Orlando Utilities Commission spokesman Tim Trudell, and there are no plans to bury overhead wires.

About 60 percent of the lines in Kissimmee, which also owns its utility, are underground, but that city isn’t burying its overhead lines either, said Kissimmee Utility Authority spokesman Chris Gent.

Winter Park’s project could be finished sooner if the city were to take out a loan.

“If we did, we think we could underground the balance in eight years,” Warren said. Going into debt for the project isn’t likely, though. Residents haven’t been enthusiastic about the idea — and it’s not what Mayor Ken Bradley wants.

“I don’t believe in borrowing money for that purpose,” Bradley said. “I believe that we should use the proceeds of the utility to continue this undergrounding.”

Even cable-TV wires, which also use power poles, could go away.

Bright House Networks, which offers cable service in the city, will have the right to buy poles affecting its lines, city officials said. However, Bright House spokesman Donald Forbes said the company is working with the city to run its lines underground.

Whether the project is complete in less than a decade or takes the full 17 years, it’s important for Winter Park, Bradley said.

“If money was no object, we would do it in eight years,” he said. “But we will be very judicious to complete the next wave of undergrounding to accomplish both reliability and aesthetics.”

apalm@tribune.com or 407-420-5022

Additional information on the undergrounding of power lines in Winter Park can be found here:  http://www.cityofwinterpark.org/2005/depts/UndergroundingPresentation.pdf

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PECO to Invest in Underground Cable Upgrade

PHILADELPHIA, Apr 26, 2012

PECO will invest approximately $3.2 million this year to replace and perform preventative maintenance on about 19 miles of underground cable that delivers electricity to thousands of residential customers across the region.

About $3 million will be spent to replace 14 miles of underground cable this year. Work has already been completed to inject about five miles of underground cable with silicone gel designed to fill and seal any cracks that may have developed in the cable’s insulation. This $200,000 project is expected to reduce the potential for cable malfunctions and service interruptions to customers.

“By continuously monitoring our electric system’s performance, including the performance of our underground cable, we are able to identify key opportunities to improve service for our customers,” said Eric Helt, vice president of Electric Operations. “Preventative maintenance, upgrading and replacement of our equipment are crucial to providing customers with safe and reliable service every day.”

Underground cable replacement and preventative maintenance are part of PECO’s overall program to ensure safe and reliable electric service for PECO’s 1.6 million electric customers. Each year, the company conducts regular maintenance and inspection of equipment to identify opportunities to improve performance. The company has been lauded as one of Pennsylvania’s safest and most reliable electric and natural gas service providers and has received numerous industry awards for its efforts.

Based in Philadelphia, PECO is an electric and natural gas utility subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC). PECO serves 1.6 million electric and 494,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Pennsylvania and employs about 2,400 people in the region. PECO delivered 82.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 38.1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2011. Founded in 1881, PECO is one of the Greater Philadelphia Region’s most active corporate citizens, providing leadership, volunteer and financial support to numerous arts and culture, education, environmental, economic development and community programs and organizations.


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Chino Hills resolution to underground 500-KV powerlines to be negotiated

May 4 – McClatchy-Tribune Regional News – Canan Tasci San Bernardino County Sun, Calif.

Confidential settlement negotiations on alternatives for a 500 kilovolt power line route in Chino Hills have started among California Public Utilities Commission, Southern California Edison and city officials.

CPUC officials on Thursday announced the talks will include discussions about undergrounding the line beneath an existing right-of-way in the city. The line is part of the $2.1 billion Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project that travels through a five-mile stretch of Chino Hills and aims to carry wind-generated electricity from Kern County to the Los Angeles Basin. Chino Hills officials and residents have expressed public safety concerns about the project, which runs through several neighborhoods in the city.

“All of us at the CPUC are hopeful these negotiations, with the active involvement of our general counsel, will be successful and produce an outcome that satisfies the concerns of the citizens of Chino Hills, while fulfilling the transmission needs of SCE and its renewable energy suppliers,” CPUC President Michael R. Peevey said in a news release.

Chino Hills officials said they felt confident Thursday’s decision could lead to the burying of the power lines, which would be carried by 200-foot-high towers.

“We are encouraged by the fact that negotiation announced today represent an effort by CPUC, Edison and the city to agree upon underground lines within the existing right-of-way in the city,” Chino Hills Mayor Art Bennett said.

“We are encouraged by that, but, obviously, there are many particulars of the proposed process that need to be worked out and those are very confidential at this point in time.”

The Tehachapi project is part of a state mandate to use more sustainable energy. It was approved by the PUC in 2009.

On, the PUC ordered Edison to stop construction work in Chino Hills on the project in response to the filing of an “Application for Rehearing and Motion for Partial Stay” by the city.

Some transmission poles and towers have already been installed by Edison on Chino Hills’ western border near Tonner Canyon.

City officials and members of Hope for the Hills, a grassroots group that has protested the above-ground project, have advocated building the project underground or through neighboring Chino Hills State Park.

The city has spent more than $2 million fighting the project as originally planned by Edison.

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Pacific Gas and Electric’s Meadow Vista dig to bury power lines – Auburn Journal

PG&E’s Meadow Vista dig to bury power lines – Auburn Journal.

Another project in Northern California to underground power lines.

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If Power Lines Fall, Why Don’t They Go Underground?

Some interesting perspectives on the pros and cons of putting power lines underground.

If Power Lines Fall, Why Don’t They Go Underground?


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Will power cables be pushed underground?

A perspective on putting power lines underground in a rural setting – the aesthetic and social impact.

Will power cables be pushed underground?

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Estherville – Conversion of overhead wires to underground system continues – EsthervilleDailyNews.com | News, Sports, Jobs, North Central Iowa, Emmet County — Estherville Daily News

Underground system upgrades in Iowa.

Estherville – Conversion of overhead wires to underground system continues – EsthervilleDailyNews.com | News, Sports, Jobs, North Central Iowa, Emmet County — Estherville Daily News.

From the article:  “We have had a few weather-related calls,” said Eveleth. “All of these will continue to decrease as more of our system is converted to underground.”

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