Keep Pace with the Transforming Energy Market

The strength, size and duration of storms in recent years, as well as the new paths they take, mean that the accuracy of flood maps can constantly be called into question in light of current weather patterns. In the last decade, the US has experienced several extraordinary weather conditions. This means that utility companies are faced with serious challenges in keeping the power on, protecting their facilities, and reinstating services after big storms. While we’ve addressed grid modernization and resiliency measures in previous blog posts, severe weather also poses significant hurdles related to the civil design of utility infrastructure, including substation sites, exposed or enclosed equipment, and secondary oil containment systems.

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We’ve heard it again and again: the electric power industry is going through the greatest transformation since its inception. Today’s utility investments must support renewable energy solutions, customer choice, energy storage, and a variety of other new or emerging technologies.

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According to ReportLinker research, the market for utility asset management will surpass $4 billion by 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.25% over 5 years. While reports from Research and Markets forecast the utility analytics market and digital utility market will grow at faster CAGRs, the utility asset management market remains larger by dollar amount because of the size of territories, number of assets, and intricacy of utility infrastructure. The growth in utility asset management is heavily impacted by increasing grid complexity and investments in grid modernization, among other factors.

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With the growth of renewable energy, the number of distributed energy resources (DER) feeding into the electric power system (EPS) is growing too. Since a traditional EPS is not designed to accommodate power coming from distributed sources, utilities are facing a number of challenges.

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Customer service is a valuable part of any utility business strategy. When the power goes out, customers aren’t concerned with how the power will be restored - they just want it back on. Utilities are feeling more pressure to protect the grid from extreme weather and restore power as quickly as possible with hurricanes, floods, and snow and ice storms causing more power outages in the United States than any other source.

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Utilities’ use of lattice box structures is not a new concept. In fact, utilities have used the design in substations for well over a hundred years. In recent years, utilities have looked at their existing lattice box structures and asked themselves: Can this structure support new upgraded equipment or should we replace it? But how do you determine if this existing structure can have an extended service life? 

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Whenever a utility puts up a power line, they also must manage the vegetation that surrounds that line.  As long as there are trees and overhead power lines, vegetation management will be one of the most important – and expensive – operational areas confronting an electric utility. 

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Grid hardening is a combined system of actions that create a strong infrastructure to better protect utility customers from weather-related outages. From physical structures to communications to effective documentation, grid hardening entails an end-to-end approach that better protects infrastructure and improves levels of service in the event of extreme weather.

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