Energy distributors are using innovative technology to significantly improve supply reliability and reduce the customer impact of power outages.

“These days, when there is a power outage, a powerful system in our control room interprets all available data in real time, returning supply automatically to the maximum number of customers possible,” says Craig Savage, United Energy’s GM Network Asset Management.

“By applying ‘self-healing’ technologies to our networks, we are resolving more than 20 percent of customers’ power interruptions within one minute that otherwise might have taken an hour. It’s great news for our 660,000 customers across Melbourne,” says Craig.

How does it work? Essentially smart computer technologies and systems automate the process that a trained controller would normally go through to carefully resolve a power outage. The system isolates a fault quickly and if you’re not in the immediate fault area, your lights will be back on very soon.

The technology is proving itself, and United Energy says over 2,000 customer interruptions a week are now resolved efficiently using the system. Previously, teams in the control room and in the field had to manually restore power, which can be time-consuming and problematic, especially in a big storm.

Recently an outage in Endeavour Hills initially affecting 4830 customers was reduced to less than 500 customers within 32 seconds with the intervention of the intelligent automation.

It’s called Fault Location Isolation and Service Restoration (FLISR)1. “The best way to describe FLISR it is that it’s like the technology found in modern cars which helps a driver to avoid a collision by responding rapidly to complex inputs. Ultimately there is still someone behind the wheel, but they are backed up by a very smart machine!” says Craig.

 

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1 FLISR technologies and systems involve automated feeder switches and reclosers, line monitors, communication networks, distribution management systems (DMS), outage management systems, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, analytics, models, and data processing tools. These technologies work in tandem to automate power restoration, reducing both the impact and length of power interruptions.