How Smart Technology Is Making Floridas Electricity More Reliable

How Smart Technology Is Making Floridas Electricity More Reliable

Energy companies are finding new ways to deliver better service using smart technology

It’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t have smart tech devices making our lives easier. From smart cars that drive themselves to smart home devices that you control on your phone — smart technology is everywhere and we’re using it in more ways than ever.

Smart technology isn’t only for your phone and home security system, major businesses and energy companies are getting on board, too. Energy companies and related device manufacturers are developing and deploying smart devices, systems and software applications to build a smart electric grid that operates more efficiently than ever before. For customers, that means more affordable and reliable electricity to power all the other smart tools in their lives

Automated Smart Switches. You might notice these smart devices perched up high on the power poles, if you’re in Florida. Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) has already installed more than 40,000 of these and will continue installing thousands more. These are smart devices that help keep the power on and minimize the amount of people affected, if an outage occurs. FPL’s efficiency expert Margie Sweezer-Fischer explains: “The best thing about the smart technology in these switches is that it works remotely — allowing the switches to operate on their own to automatically reroute, or start and stop the flow of electricity if they sense a disturbance on the power line.” For example, common causes of power flickers — momentary power interruptions that last less than one minute — are tree branches or palm fronds that touch overhead power lines. These smart devices sense when that happens and automatically reroute or turn power off, isolating the problem so fewer people experience the outage. When the vegetation is cleared or the disturbance is gone, the switch automatically turns the power back on. These switches were put to the test during last year’s Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew. During both storms, these switches prevented a combined 143,000 customer outages — keeping the lights on even while tropical force winds affected Florida.

Smart Grid Diagnostics. You may often feel overwhelmed by your own onslaught of big data — text messages, emails and pictures. For engineers working in a smart grid diagnostic center, information overload has a whole new meaning. They receive millions of pieces of information 24/7 and 365 days a year — data points and real-time predictive analytics gathered from smart grid devices that help them monitor and manage the electric system. Similar to diagnostic tests doctors use to aid in diagnosing an illness, energy companies collect and analyze equipment and electrical data to determine the health of its system. This data also helps power FPL’s mobile application, Restoration Spatial View. This app developed by FPL employees puts important information about the grid in the palms of crews’ hands, helping them work more efficiently. “Big data for an energy company never stops. Our employees are always working, using that information to help predict and prevent power issues and improve the performance of the grid,” said Margie.

Fault Current Indicators. The same way cars have indicators that inform drivers when the car needs a tune-up or oil change, energy companies use tools that let them know when and where work is needed on the electric system. A fault current indicator (FCI) is a smart device that delivers real-time information about the electric distribution system to crews who use the data to identify the location and nature of a problem. “Just like you use GPS apps on your smart phone to help you find your way, FPL uses tools to navigate issues, too,” Margie explains. With these devices, crews are remotely and quickly directed to a more precise location of a trouble spot — a function that used to be manual and time-consuming. Getting to the right place faster means crews can work more efficiently. For the customer, it means more reliable electric service. “Think of a fault current indicator like a health and fitness tracker many people wear on their wrists today,” said Margie. “The FCI essentially tracks the health of the system and delivers information crews use to intercept a problem before it becomes an outage.”

Thousands of FPL efficiency experts like Margie are researching and implementing smart technology that helps keep the lights on longer and operate its system more efficiently. For FPL customers it’s paying off. They’re reaping the benefits of better reliability and bills that are among the lowest in the nation. Margie explains: “It’s all part of our commitment to building a stronger and smarter grid to deliver electricity customers can count on in good weather and bad.”

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Phone: 954-540-9863
Dated: April 1st 2017
Views: 82
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