Grid Hardening Tips Every Utility Company Should Know
The utility industry encounters complex challenges every day. It must keep up with new regulations meant to protect the environment as well as consumer demand. Utility providers must also contend with an aging infrastructure that could fail during certain circumstances.
Harsh weather events can compromise vulnerable energy grids. A storm like the recent Hurricane Irma can devastate electrical and communications infrastructures, cutting off affected populations from their loved ones and normal lives.
Organizations like the United States Department of Energy have pushed for energy grid awareness and action. Grid hardening is a collection of practices that can protect utility services in the direst situations. Increasing grid resilience via hardening measures can keep the power on for millions of utility customers. Evaluating possible electric grid risks and promptly addressing those issues is all but essential.
The grid hardening tips every utility company should know can mitigate outages and extend the life of the nation's infrastructure.
Tip #1: Choose a Strong Pole Material
Replacing wooden utility poles with concrete or steel options can be an effective measure that yields long-term benefits. Wooden poles are often susceptible to fire and high winds. Concrete or steel poles can withstand fire, wind, and other debilitating conditions. For instance, a severe ice storm that contains ferocious winds could flatten wooden poles. Concrete poles can withstand practically winds of any strength. Although costing more at first, stronger alternatives can pay off down the line as they require less upkeep and do not need to be replaced after an adverse event.
Tip #2: Use Technology
Although the utility industry uses technology each day to meet the expectations of its customers, it should embrace new methods to strengthen its grids. These methods include smart meters that can monitor network statuses, allowing providers to activate repair plans if an outage occurs. Some methods use technology to identify issues before they happen. Assessing and resolving possible problems can go a long way in maintaining utility infrastructure.
Tip #3: Practice Vegetation Management
Vegetation that grows close to or along power lines can pull down lines during a weather event. Dealing with these hazards around the year can help protect utilities that require the lines to transmit and distribute service. Although cutting back trees can reduce line knockdowns and the amount of flying debris, no amount of vegetation management can eliminate the risk. Regardless, an active campaign can play a fruitful role in grid hardening.
Tip #4: Bury Utility Lines
Although vegetation management is a worthwhile approach, burying the lines, if possible, can be even more effective. Burying lines, also known as undergrounding, involves more than throwing lines into a hole. Cables are placed in a conduit and then buried. Undergrounding protects lines from the weather at a higher cost than other methods. However, buried lines are less likely to need repairs or replacement.
Tip #5: Reinforce Existing Infrastructure
If utility providers do not want to replace all of their poles, then they can add guy wires to secure them. They can also apply coatings to their poles to make them more resistant to the elements. For instance, some coatings can give extra protection to poles and lines in icy climates. Reinforcing existing infrastructure can provide short and long-term security.
Tip #6: Elevate Substations
An electrical substation is a facility where generators and other equipment can be maintained, repaired, and installed. These locations are critical parts of the electrical infrastructure. Substations in flood-prone areas might experience malfunctioning equipment during heavy storms. Elevating these places above water level can help reduce flood damage. Adding moats around substations can also help ward off the ravaging effects of deluges.
Tip #7: Partner with Blackwood Solutions
Extreme weather can wreak havoc on utility infrastructure. Utility providers must take a proactive approach to prepare and prevent service outages caused by natural disasters. Teaming up with Blackwood Solutions can help providers complete their current and future grid-hardening projects.
We are an asset-based utility hauling trucking company that recognizes all of the struggles the utility industry faces. We own a fleet of trucks with attached grapples that allow our drivers to quickly, easily, and safely load, transport, and unload utility poles and other equipment. We also hire our drivers, ensuring each one has a superior driving record as well as experience with our self-unloading trucks. Since we own our trucks and hire our drivers, we must constantly prove ourselves to maintain our status as a trusted partner within the utility industry. Our reputation depends on how well we serve you. As such, we seek to offer you services that can expedite and facilitate your grid hardening projects and anything you need to complete before a deadline.
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Your company wants to serve its customers to the best of its abilities. We want to serve you to the best of our ability. If you need high-quality utility pole transloading, storage, or hauling today, then contact us.