With the onset of hurricane season and severe to violent storms in full swing locally, Duke Energy is on the attack to keep customers in power.
CHARLOTTE, NC – Hurricane season just started on June 1 and there has already been a storm called. Also, with the heat and humidity of summer, severe thunderstorms become more likely in the Carolinas.
For this reason, Duke Energy is taking an offensive approach to avoid power outages across the region.
They are using new technologies, such as intelligent and self-healing technology, in order not only to prevent power outages altogether, but to fix them quickly.
Self-healing technology can automatically identify a power outage and quickly redirect power to restore service faster. This was stated by Jeff Brooks, the spokesman for Duke Energy WCNC Charlotte meteorologist Brittany Van Voorhees think of auto-regeneration technology like your car’s GPS.
“If you are driving, it says there is a break ahead and you take a road to bypass the break and stay on your way,” Brooks explained. “Think of this as GPS for the power grid, which helps identify outages and quickly redirect power to other lines to restore service faster.”
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Self-healing technology can reduce the number of customers affected by a power outage by up to 75%. In some cases, it can restore power in less than a minute.
Currently, only 20% of Duke Energy customers benefit from this new technology, but they hope to increase this number to 80% in the coming years.
In 2021, this technology helped avoid more than 200,000 protracted customer outages in North Carolina, saving customers over 400,000 lost outage hours.
What is the leading cause of power outages in Carolina?
According to Brooks, bad weather causes most of the problems locally. This is especially true when trees fall, taking power lines with them. Often this is due to floods and saturated soils. Strong and damaging winds come and boom… the tree fell.
Brooks says that in some areas, such as southeastern Charlotte, where outages often occur, they have tried to put some lines underground. They use advanced analytics to tell them the right place to put the line.
However, this is not always possible, nor is it the best solution anywhere.
How do climate and climate change affect Duke Energy’s approach to power outages?
Severe storms are the most common cause of climate-related power outages, but the list goes on. Ice storms, heat waves, gusts of wind, flash floods, and tropical cyclones can cause outage problems. And we have all of these in Carolina!
With a changing climate and an increase in the number of storms, strong or not, Duke Energy is preparing accordingly.
“In addition to looking at historical reliability data, we’re starting to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to start predicting some of the trends over time we’ll see with our system to make sure we’re building the right protections in place, whatever. what we can encounter, to make sure we are ready to maintain reliable service for our customers, ”Brooks said.
Brooks explains that Duke Energy has an all-hazard approach and they are trying to prepare for anything. Self-healing technology is the first step in restoring as many customers as possible, even if crews must eventually go out and repair the damage. It also helps crews stay safer and more efficient out in the field.
What else causes power outages besides time?
Cars hitting poles are a major factor in power outages. Brooks says distracted driving has caused a sharp increase in the number of these accidents.
He said that because we can’t predict these disruptions, they need a system that can recover quickly.
Two other big culprits: squirrels and snakes.
“They plug into our lines, they go into our substations and they can cause outages for thousands of customers,” Brooks said. “So, we are making many improvements based on protecting our systems from animals and their safety, while also keeping the network operational.”
What other new technologies is Duke Energy using?
Duke uses smart technology not only to restore power after outages, but also to manage distributed technologies, such as electric vehicles, battery accumulators and solar panels on homes and businesses.
All of this changes the way energy flows through the electrical grid.
“When you think about it, energy has always flowed in one direction from our power plants to our customers,” Brooks said. “But now everything is changing. That power now flows in multiple directions, we have energy from your home or your work that may have to go somewhere else.”
🌩️ If you like the weather, watch Brad Panovich and the WCNC Charlotte Weather Team on their YouTube channel, Weather IQ. 🎥
“We need a smarter power grid to be able to automatically manage it and make it efficient so that we never have problems with power reliability, even if we add these cleaner technologies. This facility will also help in addition to speeding up energy recovery, is helping prepare the grid for the future so that we can provide cleaner energy options for our customers. “
Duke Energy also uses smart meters throughout our area. Brooks says that by using these meters, they can remotely pull information from a home or business to make sure the power has been restored. This is beneficial so that a team can finish faster and move on to another break.
What does Duke Energy’s distribution control center do?
Employees who work at this facility manage the utility teams that work statewide and monitor and respond to outages as they occur. When you report an outage, they assign a team or use technology to fix the outage.
This facility also helps support daily energy quality questions, customer concerns, network improvement work, new poles and cables to support growth in the area.
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The interesting thing about this facility is that the crew members can work together to help each other. Regions separate them, but should the Charlotte area experience a major outage, crews from other areas can take steps to help Charlotte’s employees turn the power back on.