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Converting Power Lines to Smart Wires

By Phill Feltham

Increasing the observability and control of the transmission network


The North American power grid has evolved into a connected set of four major interconnections delivering low-cost and reliable energy. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the real price of electricity has dropped by a factor of 45 over the last 120 years in the United States. Meanwhile, a study published by the Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions reveals that, from 2000 to 2009, electricity was available to U.S. customers more than 99.9 percent of the time.

Ongoing innovation is required to continue delivering low-cost and reliable electricity. Recent initiatives to increase the intelligence and control of the power system have transformed planning, operations, and maintenance.

These efforts are continuing by converting existing transmission lines from uncontrollable, unobservable assets to Smart Wires, an asset able to observe and control power flows. This new Smart Grid technology was developed collaboratively with U.S. utilities.

At the moment, the new technology has been deployed on three transmission lines belonging to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Southern Company power systems.

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