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APS Experiments on Sensor-Based Auto-Healing Power Grid Technology

Phoenix-based APS, a leading electric utility in Arizona, is experimenting on novel intelligent networking systems in Flagstaff, which can considerably lessen the duration of power outages as well as enhance the re-installation time of outage.

APS is directing self-restoring technologies on two major Flagstaff’s distribution lines. Sensors that have been installed on power lines could correspond to each other and also with the main computer system. During any sort of interruption in the lines, the sensors rapidly specify the location, separate it to the affected zone and re-establish power throughout rest of the lines.

The sensors have the capability to recover the disturbance by itself, that when they detect the opening of a line, it re-closes it automatically or re-directs the power so to avoid power outages.

At times, when a car strikes a power pole, the whole line gets disrupted and the power is cut. APS sensors automatically communicate with each other and repair the fault. Only a few people nearby the accident zone will be affected.

Previously, during power outages, APS recognized the power line or equipment to be examined but not exactly the affected point and sent the service squad to inspect the line. Through various elimination processes, they tracked the problem and restored power.

With the advancement of new auto-isolating technologies, the devices inform the APS dispatchers, the actual point where the fault occurred and the service crew can directly repair the affected spot thus reducing the power restoration time.

The self-restoring experimental network is the innovative attempt by APS to establish its reputation as a leading electric utility in the country. In 2009, APS clients encountered an average of one outage per user or less in comparison with the 1.27 outages per client in 2008. APS also excels in providing short average outage period and less outage frequency.

The experimental self-healing technology is a part of the intelligent network initiatives by APS in Flagstaff, comprising the Community Power Project, which is a novel solar power project for residential purpose. This solar power programme aims at testing the consequences of high concentrated solar energy upon a specific distribution unit. In 2009, APS incorporated 36,000 innovative electric meters for a two-way digital transmission for enabling cost and energy savings.


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