The recent Smart Grid movement began as an attempt to bring the digital age to the electric power system. Smart Grid systems, if deployed correctly, provide tools to help save energy, reduce costs and increase reliability. Renewable technologies and Smart Grid-compliant devices continue to emerge. Electric vehicles, distributed generation, and consumer appliances are tools that enable efficient energy management.
Many utilities, including LCEC, have had Smart Grid components in place for a number of years. In 1982, LCEC installed its first SCADA system, which brought information from field devices into the Operations Center. This data is helpful for planning future infrastructure. In 1988, LCEC began to deploy microprocessor-based transmission step distance relaying. This equipment collects data for analyzing fault locations, which aids in service restoration. In 1993, LCEC began to deploy a radio network, which is interfaced with SCADA and allows for the control and data acquisition of devices outside the substations. This greatly reduces outage durations to customers. In 2001, LCEC began to deploy the TWACS (Two-Way Automated Communication System) automated meter reading system.
Presently the entire LCEC system can be read remotely, which increases efficiency, safety and effectiveness. The system is also used to help restore power. Two-way communication with meters, utilizing the power line network, helps to keep operating costs in line while ensuring accuracy. In addition, the system provides usage information to customers so they can manage their electric bills. Customers have online access to their daily usage and it can serve as a tool to reduce bills.
LCEC has assembled a cross-functional Smart Grid team, which serves as a clearinghouse for all future Smart Grid projects. This is to ensure a planned and coordinated approach is followed. The team is focused on reviewing technologies that yield a measurable positive rate of return for customers and monitoring external drivers that may trigger the need for implementing new technology.
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