How SDG&E’s Smart Grid Devices Helped Restore the Grid

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Originally published on the ECOreport.

San Diego’s grid has endured an onslaught from a record-breaking 5-day-long heat wave, which produced back to back peak demand records of 4,781 megawatts (MW) and 4,890 MW. There were also high winds, with microbursts followed by sudden downpours and flooding. A lot of trees fell, there were several outages, and repair crews worked round the clock.

Hanan Eisenman, Communications Manager for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), explained how SDG&E’s smart grid devices helped restore the grid.

SDG&E has the largest weather sensor network in the US, with 150 sensors throughout their service territory.

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“We use these to track adverse weather conditions to improve our situational awareness of the grid and make it more reliable,” said Hanan Eisenman, Communications Manager, SDG&E. “They also enable us to respond quicker during heinous fire seasons or weather events like this.”

Thanks to the weather sensors, SDG&E knew where the microbursts were developing, so crews were rushed to the threatened areas and ready when the microbursts occurred.

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SDG&E used SCADA devices to avoid the faults and reroute power to the affected locations quicker.

“SCADA are like automated switches so that instead of sending a crewman out to flip the switch and get the power going around an area, you can switch those lines from a control room,” Eisenman explained. “It is basically automated switching technology. You can look at your grid and see where there is a fault. I can reroute that power, by switching to a different line, then I can bring the power back in that area sooner.”

SDG&E also employed wireless fault indicators to pinpoint the problems in distribution lines, so crews could find and repair them quicker.

There were a lot of crews working around the clock, but smart technology enabled them to repair the damages faster.

With obvious pride in his voice, Eisenman said, “That’s what we do in SDG&E, we are known as a very reliable utility. We’ve been ‘Best in the West’ for reliability eight years in a row. It is one of our core missions, so when an outage happens we respond quickly.”

Photos above:

  • (Top) Generic photo of crew at work – courtesy SDG&E
  • (Bottom) One of the microbursts hitting San Diego – Courtesy Kathleen Hedberg

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Roy L Hales

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

Roy L Hales has 441 posts and counting. See all posts by Roy L Hales