Grid modernization, investing in advanced technologies to improve the delivery of electricity and resiliency of the grid, continues to expand across I&M’s service area. For more than 200 customers in Marion, that investment made all the difference after a weekend summer storm.
Early in the morning on Saturday, July 23, a powerful wind storm interrupted service for more than 23,000 I&M customers, hitting hardest in the Marion area. Winds exceeding 70mph caused widespread, devastating damage. Trees and limbs came down everywhere, 141 poles were broken or damaged and 260 spans of wire were torn down.
Even with a massive mutual assistance workforce, that much damage takes a long time to fix.
One of the hundreds of outages hit a circuit recently upgraded with Distribution Automation Circuit Reconfiguration (DACR) technology – smart, self-healing equipment that can automatically re-route power away from the damaged area of power lines. The DACR equipment worked flawlessly, restoring power to 208 customers in under two minutes.
When crews respond to large outages, field switching (re-routing power) is performed when possible to isolate the damaged part of a circuit and get the lights back on for as many customers as possible as quickly as possible. However, it can take hours to roll trucks to the outage site, assess damage to the circuit and manually re-route power. DACR can perform the switching in moments.
Due to the widespread damage from the July 23 storm, crews did not arrive to this particular outage until approximately 26 hours after it began. After the extensive repairs were complete, more than 48 hours in total had passed. That means the DACR technology turned what could have been an entire weekend without power into a momentary blip for over 200 people. It also allowed crews to immediately focus on repairs for the rest of the circuit immediately, rather than first isolating the damage.
As grid modernization efforts continue and new technology is installed on more circuits, we look forward to celebrating many more examples of reducing, mitigating, and more quickly restoring power outages.