Advanced meters are the most visible component of recent smart grid deployments, dominating much public and media attention. However, industry members recognize even greater opportunities and imperatives for modernizing distribution infrastructure and operations further up the line.
Distribution automation (DA) is a hot topic in the utility industry, encompassing a range of technologies and applications that promise to cut operating costs, improve reliability and increase energy efficiency. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration statistics, reducing distribution losses in the U.S. by just 1% would save about 2.6 TWh of electricity. But nothing good comes easily.
DA is nothing short of a revolution in an industry that has been operating in the same patterns for the past century. A lack of precedents combined with regulatory pressures and the threat of grid destabilization by renewable and distributed generation has created a complex and somewhat unnerving state of affairs.
Duke Energy’s Senior Project Manager, Melanie Miller, recently sat down with Bart King from Cleantech Communications to touch down on what distribution automation steps are being taken to prepare for greater distributed generation on the grid and the introduction of electric vehicles:
MELANIE MILLER: The Charlotte, North Carolina pilot project I manage for Duke is attempting to answer all of the questions around this topic. We’ve taken steps to understand how distributed resources will impact grid reliability. This includes looking at where customers are adopting them and how quickly. We’ve tested in a substation area with more than 16,000 customers, distributed generation, energy storage, and seven electric vehicles with charging stations in order to understand how all of these will operate together and the effect they’ll have on one circuit, one station bank and one substation as a whole. We want to understand the impacts to reliability, modeling and our systems in the distribution control center so as we begin to have high penetration of solar and electric vehicles, we can manage our assets for the good of the system. The new demand management system software in Charlotte will begin testing in a production phase in June 2013.
Read more about Melanie’s thoughts regarding DA along with thought leaders from Silver Spring Networks, and Power Analytics in Smart Grid Update’s free report. Click here to access Distribution Automation: Setting the Precedent in the Utility Industry.
Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to bring you this article courtesy of our sponsor Smart Grid Update.