Happy Halloween from the Smart Grid: Making Houses Less Haunted
You have to admit it. When the lights and power go out, it can be a little spine-tingling.
According to a 2015 study by Nature Climate Change, fewer storms are occurring due to warmer ocean temperatures. But when they do, as in the case of recent Hermine and Matthew, they can be tricky. That’s why investments made by the federal government and local utilities, $4.5 billion in electric-system upgrades resulting in 65 million old-fashioned meters – about a third of the U.S. total – being upgraded, are a much-needed treat for our electrical grid.
Take for instance, category one Hurricane Hermine’s frightfully high winds and rain that made landfall in the Florida panhandle on September 2. While more than 96,000 customers throughout Florida Power & Light's service area were affected, FPL’s investment in our electrical infrastructure made the storm a lot less spooky. Thanks to goodies like automated switches installed on poles and wires, the utility kept 25,000 of its customers from losing power. Plus, with 4.8 million newly installed smart meters, the utility was able to respond more quickly by instantly knowing who needed power restored. The new digital meters were able to ping utility control rooms when lights flicker out and the system automatically isolated problems rerouting electricity around trouble spots, so fewer people lost power. There’s nothing supernatural about it.
Then, as if Hermine, wasn’t eerie enough, along came Matthew. The witch's spell of a storm caused more than two million households and businesses to lose power in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia in early October. The Wall Street Journal reported that of the 957,000 Florida Power customers who lost power Friday heading into the weekend, only 56,000 remained without service Monday morning. The Miami Herald reported that FPL’s smart-grid architecture prevented more than 55,000 outages from even occurring. What’s more with situations like these and the new technology, we don’t have to be left in the lurch anymore as to when our power will be restored. Utility companies will text or call with an update.
So, while climate change is here and sometimes means scary weather, it’s good to know that so is the smart grid. Next time a storm comes, it just might keep your lights on at home instead of turning it into a haunted house. Click here to see our power restoration fact sheet and to learn more about how the smart grid keeps your power on.