Harrisburg, Pa utility provider PPL Electric Utilities has its $40 million smart grid pilot program in a fully operational stage. Currently about 60,000 customers are enjoying the benefits of 21st century technology and a more reliable source of electricity. Just in time for those summer heat waves and storms, too.
Anyone interested in finding out what a smart grid can bring a community or county should take a good look at this latest addition.
With a distribution management system (aka "brain") supplied by GE Energy, the PPL smart grid is constantly monitored and the power flow is analyzed in real time. The "body" of the system comprises over 500 switches, relays, sensors and other devices that can gather information and respond to commands from the control center. A series of wireless towers and fiber optic links make up the "nervous system," bringing communication between system operators and substations in the field.
The whole system benefits users by saving money, improving reliability through quick detection of outages and rerouting of power and providing a foundation for the future integration of wind and solar power.
Well done, PPL and the DOE for the $19 million in funds that helped make the system a reality. Let's hope it serves as a positive example of what this technology can bring to homes across the country.