MEMPHIS, Tenn. – It’s going to take billions of dollars to modernize MLGW’s grid before it can ever be the modern public utility many customers dream about; one with fewer power outages and faster restoration times.
And, MLGW President and CEO Doug McGowen said customers can expect to get there, but not immediately.
“Well, nothing will happen immediately, McGowen said. “I just want to be clear. So we have a five-year plan. But, one of the key things that we’re doing is tree trimming. Sixty percent of our outages recently are due to trees and occurring with our electric distribution system. And so we have a three year tree trimming cycle that we need to be on in order to make those improvements.
“When the trees are cut, you’ll see an immediate uptick in your reliability. We know this to be the case several years ago in the normal station neighborhood, we did exactly a micro plan of what we’re doing today. We modernized the infrastructure, we cut the trees and we put some distribution automation devices in there and we’ve seen a fifty percent increase in reliability just in that small area.”
But, a bigger driver of reliability will ultimately be a modernized grid, complete with fiber and radio connected circuits that easily “talk” to each other.
Alabama Power has the kind of modernized power grid that MLGW hopes to one day have. It’s called FISR, or Fault Isolation and Service Restoration. It’s an advanced distribution management system application that uses radio connected line devices for automated service restoration. With it, there are few, if any, customers who have to deal with the power being out for weeks, days, even hours.
“Our response time regarding how the average power outage effects a customer is around twenty seconds,” said Joey Blackwell, a spokesman for Alabama Power.
“Our power grid has significantly improved in terms of reliability and efficiency”, said Blackwell. “FISR technology has transformed how we handle power outages and benefits our customers by restoring power faster and more efficiently.”