When I signed on as director of engineering for PPL Electric Utilities, I wasn’t expecting television interviews to be part of my job description.

But that’s what I found myself doing late on a recent Friday afternoon, talking with the Lehigh Valley public television station, PBS 39, about one of my favorite topics – Smart Grid.

Smart Grid is already making electric service more reliable for tens of thousands of PPL Electric Utilities customers. And it has the potential to reduce power outages for many, many more of our customers throughout our 29-county service territory.

What is Smart Grid? Think of it as a power grid that heals itself.

When wires or poles get damaged by bad weather, for example, Smart Grid can detect the problem automatically and relay that information back to our control room where system operators can respond quickly.

Our grid is like a big spider web. When one strand of the web gets damaged, we can reroute power along the other strands. By using this interconnected network of power lines, we can restore power to many customers even before we make repairs. Smart Grid makes that speedy restoration possible.

Soon, we will add computer controls to our Smart Grid system, meaning that the grid can detect an outage, throw remote-control switches automatically, and restore power to most customers in the blink of an eye.

Each year, we will be adding more Smart Grid components to our electric delivery system. Already, Smart Grid and other improvements we are making have reduced the average number of power outages experienced by our customers, as well as the average duration of those outages.