When there’s a problem — or a fault — on a power line, it can cause power outages for our customers. But thanks to a game-changing new system, these problems impact fewer customers than ever. The new system, created by our own engineering teams and vendor partners, uses smart devices that interrupt faults remotely. They’re called “vacuum reclosers.”
We place them on power lines to monitor the flow of electricity. When a sensor on a line detects a problem, the nearest recloser automatically cuts power from that point in the line. Instead of every customer on the line losing power, only customers downstream of the recloser device are impacted. Then, our crews work as safely and quickly as possible to restore power to everyone who is out.
In November 2021, we installed the first vacuum recloser on a transmission line and plan to install more of these devices at locations that will provide the most benefit to our customers.
This is just one example of our commitment to innovate and invest in technologies that improve reliability.
We’re committed to delivering an effortless customer experience, whether we chat on social media, speak over the phone, or interact with you on our website. We’re also committed to continuous learning and improvement. So, when we received customer feedback regarding accessibility issues with our website, we took action.
Here’s what we learned:
- A legally blind customer made us aware that she was having difficulty using her screen reader to pay her bill online.
- Another customer with red and green colorblindness was having difficulty interpreting certain message banners on our website.
Here’s what we’re doing about it:
- Updating our online bill pay section to better support those who are visually impaired.
- To help overcome the color hurdle, we’re testing and implementing designs that use larger icons, which are more noticeable and legible for users with colorblindness.
Taking it a step further:
- We’ll continue checking-in with customers who have disabilities and design our website with accessibility in mind.
- We’re establishing panels of customers who can provide us guidance and insight on accessibility issues as we’re making routine improvements to the website.
We’re continuously learning from customers who access our website differently, so we can make the web experience inclusive for all.
We’re using technological innovation and data to reduce costs, improve safety, and keep the lights on for our customers.
This past winter we piloted dynamic line rating (DLR) technology on two of our transmission lines. When integrated successfully into operations, this technology has the potential to delay costly investments.
We’re excited to report that our pilot was successful. Thanks to the accuracy reported by our DLR sensors, we didn’t need to build new lines or upgrade the transmission line to avoid congestion.
The use of DLR sensors on our transmission lines saved millions of dollars that can be invested into preparing for the grid of the future. It also prevents us from having to do construction work.
Our company is one of the first to successfully integrate this technology into operations.
Let’s take a closer look at how it works.
The energy grid moves electricity like the roadway system moves vehicles. The grid has two main components. The transmission system (#2) acts like the highway, moving energy over long distances and across state lines. The distribution system (#4) acts like local roadways, delivering energy directly to homes and businesses.
Like traffic on the highway, the grid becomes congested when the transmission system can no longer deliver the electricity without exceeding certain limits. When this happens, just like roads need to be expanded or added, transmission owners, like us, must upgrade or build new electrical lines.
DLR sensors give real-time information on conditions that affect transmission line performance – like wind speed and line temperature. This information is used to increase the amount of electricity delivered over existing lines and decrease congestion.
Traditionally, static line ratings are taken when the lines are initially built, and the ratings are used indefinitely to make investment decisions. So, even though the environmental factors are continually changing, the rating assumes the most conservative factors are at play. When the grid becomes congested, we may be unable to increase the amount of electricity because the initial static line rating assumes we cannot. This means we must invest in upgrading or adding transmission lines.
“The information we are collecting is helping us better balance strong resiliency while holding down costs,” said Dave Quier, vice president of Transmission and Substation. “Not having to make upgrades to Harwood-Susquehanna saves money, avoids construction work and gives our team more flexibility to invest money where customers will see bigger reliability results.”
This is just another example of how we’re using technology, innovation and data to improve safety, reduce cost, and keep the lights on for you.
We’re committed to investing in innovative solutions to deliver safe, reliable and affordable energy services to our customers.
Here’s the latest example:
We began piloting Dynamic Line Rating technology to get real-time information on conditions that affect transmission line performance – like wind speed and line temperature. We can use this information to increase the amount of electricity that is delivered over existing lines. This helps us make the most out of our current lines and more precisely identify when lines need to be replaced, which keeps rates affordable for customers.
We recently installed sensors on our Juniata-Cumberland and Harwood-Susquehanna 230kV lines, and we’re actively working on our next installations.
“We are leading the way in our operating region with this technology, and I couldn’t be more excited about how we are using it to improve reliability and decrease cost,” said senior engineer Eric Rosenberger.
Stay tuned for updates on our use of Dynamic Line Rating technology and other innovative investments so we can continue delivering safe, reliable and cost-effective solutions for you.
Reliability means you can be confident that when you flip the switch, your lights will come on.
It means that if a storm knocks out your power, our smart grid will react to limit the size of the affected area and reroute power to get your lights back on quickly while we make repairs. Sometimes that outage will be so short you won’t even realize it happened.
We pride ourselves on the reliability of our power grid – a grid with millions of parts serving a land area larger than New Jersey. But that reliability doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s the result of constant investment, innovation, and invention.
Here’s a peek at a couple of industry leading innovations that are keeping our grid reliable for you.
We recently received patents for innovations designed to increase reliability. The purpose of our patents – to benefit our customers – is what makes us most proud.
One of our patents was for work that allowed older grid equipment to help reroute power and keep the lights on in the early days of our smart grid rollout.
We continue to replace this older equipment, and the system developed continues to boost reliability.
Another patent is for a device that increases the lifespan of our poles by allowing other attachments, like phone and cable wires, to be attached without drilling nearly as many holes in the pole. That helps poles last longer.
We’re always looking for innovative ways to improve your service at the right cost. That’s PPL value.