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ComEd's smart grid efforts already paying off

By Max Burkhalter
July 16, 2014

Creating intelligent grid architectures can prove incredibly challenging and expensive, but efforts to use smart grid technologies to improve reliability are already starting to show. This represents a significant step forward as the long-term reliability benefits of smart grid technologies are still probably far away. Most intelligent grid systems are still in their infancy, meaning the results of these investments will still be limited. That said, some results are still expected and in the Chicago area, ComEd's initial smart grid efforts are already starting to deliver results.

ComEd's smart grid project alleviates outage issues
According to a recent Chicago Business report, the surface-level impact of recent storms in Chicago were just as great as when a similar event took place in 2011. Outages continued for three days in both the 2011 storm and the most recent one. At first glance, it may seem like the rate hike that went with ComEd's ambitious smart grid project. However, a closer look at the data reveals two key issues at work here - this year's storm pattern was more severe and the outages were not as bad.

A tale of two storms
The 2011 weather event featured winds topping out at 80 miles per hour. That event featured 11,000 lightning strikes and two tornadoes. Comparably, the storm that hit in late June 2014 featured 8 tornadoes, 79,000 lightning strikes and peak winds that reached 110 miles per hour,Terence Donnelly,executive vice president and chief operating officer at ComEd told the news source.

Outages were handled better this time around
While the storms in 2014 and 2011 both led to outages lasting three days, Donnelly explained that the nuances of how this outage was handled made the 2014 response much more effective. This year's extreme event was actually two separate storms and 60 percent of ComEd's customers had power restored within 12 hours. This represents a significant improvement compared to just 46 percent of customers having power within 12 hours in 2011. Furthermore, 20,000 outages were avoided in entirety this time around and the average outage was 808 minutes compared to 997 minutes in 2011.

Using smart grid systems to limit outages
Network infrastructure plays a vital role in reducing the impact of power outages. A well-integrated network can move outage-related data quickly to various management centers in the grid, making it easier to respond quickly and accurately to changing demands. Serial to Ethernet terminal servers and fiber to Ethernet media converters play a vital role in enabling utilities to integrate disparate cabling medias throughout the grid and create a unified intelligent grid architecture that can limit outages.

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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