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Utilities turn to smart grid to manage peak load

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Utilities across the country know managing peak load is one of the most important services offered, despite the lower loads that have appeared recently during a slumping economy. As fuel and construction costs continue to rise, many utilities are looking to the smart grid to eliminate the need to build additional plants and substations.

According to Renew Grid, most smart grid projects currently being deployed are focusing on reducing peak load through a number of smart grid technologies, such as distributed renewable energy sources.

As these technologies become more common, demand response programs are also growing in popularity and complexity. This has led utilities to install advanced distribution systems that aim to optimize voltage and VARs networks, called distribution system demand response (DSDR).

This system promises to make operations more efficient, which is accomplished in a number of ways. Many utilities are beginning to understand that distribution automation techniques can greatly reduce peak demand. The system works by reducing the actual amount of voltage, as voltage drop is a common characteristic of distribution feeders, with voltage highest near substations and declining as it travels further away. Providing the right amount of voltage is typically the most important component in feeder configuration.

DSDR keeps voltage levels flat throughout the system during normal operating conditions, giving utilities a cushion during emergency or peak load times.

To install such a system, utilities will need to improve both their information technology and operations technology programs, according to the news provider. This often involves the addition of more voltage regulation and capacitive reactance, and could also spur utilities to adopt switches and tie-line additions to increase operating flexibility.

IT improvements typically involve highly evolved analytics that help utilities monitor and control voltage and VARs, which keep the system functioning tightly for normal conditions.

By using such a technique for optimization, utility distribution operators can reduce voltage during peak demand without compromising the network's reliability.

SUBNET is prepared to offer the innovative interoperability solutions utilities will need in order to capitalize on the benefits of the smart grid. By combining the latest advancements in substation technologies with current networking and IT systems, SUBNET enables utilities to build a more intelligent and secure electric grid, resulting in reliable and safe delivery of electricity to all customers. 

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