Distribution Automation Efforts

Power outages can be restored faster with new Smart Grid technology that allows certain grid operations to be done remotely or automatically. Lines or “feeders” deliver electricity from transmission substations to homes and businesses.  Outages occur when electric faults disrupt power flow on the feeders.  Smart Grid involves the increased use of digital information and control technology to improve the reliability, security, and efficiency of the electric distribution network. Public service commissions are engaged in making sure these goals and benefits are realized.

Automatic Sectionalizing Restoration (“ASR”) Systems

In 2015, Pepco expanded ASR technology deployment to include three additional feeders out of the Van Ness Substation, two feeders from the Takoma Substation, and two additional feeders from the 12th and Irving Substation. These seven feeders serve approximately 9,500 customers in the District of Columbia. ASR functionality for these seven feeders will be activated in 2016. The Anacostia area ASR plan has been deferred until technology planning for the DC PLUG initiative is completed.

Remotely Operated Switches

Pepco is planning to install overhead fault (outage) detectors that would communicate back to the distribution system control center. This will improve outage response through quicker identification of fault locations. This work will start when a smart fault indicator technology is selected, which Pepco expects in late 2016. In addition, projects are underway to install 13 kV and 69 kV remotely operated switches on feeders to allow more capability to isolate the faulted portion of the feeder and return more customers to service faster. The remote control capability of these switches allows Pepco’s distribution system control center to perform switching without the need for field crews, thus reducing customer outage time.

Remote Monitoring System (“RMS”)

  • The RMS monitors will provide increased visibility and control capability for system operators to remotely open or close the network transformer protectors through two-way communications. RMS will provide operational data to evaluate the performance of the transformer and protector, perform maintenance when needed, and allow opening the protector to disconnect network load from the transformer without the need to wait for a crew to manually operate the protector. This will provide great benefits during emergencies when there is a need to very quickly isolate a transformer from the network. 
  • Remote transformer monitors are being installed on Pepco’s underground network.  The installation, testing and integration of the RMS on 50 transformers in the Buzzard Point Network (in Southeast) have been completed, as well as on 49 transformers in the Substation 212 Southeast group. An additional 72 network transformers in the Substation 18 Central group have been equipped with RMS. The installation of RMS on 69 network transformers in the Substation 212 Northeast Network (in Northeast ), and on 77 transformer protectors in the Substation 7 Benning Network (in Northeast) and integration of the RMS data into Pepco’s energy management system is expected to be completed in 2016. 
  • The development of the RMS system and the initial installation at Buzzard Point are part of the Department of Energy Smart Grid Investment Grant that Pepco received. Pepco’s long-term plan is to install RMS in all of its 49 networks which encompass about 4,000 transformers.

Related Cases

  • FC 1139 - Pepco's Application for Authority to Increase Existing Retail Rates and Charges for Electric Distribution Service
  • FC 1136 - Pepco's formal notice of plans to construct two 230 kV underground transmission circuits on Buzzard Point in Southwest, DC
  • FC 1130 - The Commission's Investigation into Modernizing the Energy Delivery Structure for Increased Sustainability