San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) announced the launch of an advanced outage management system (OMS) that will use smart grid technology to speed up the detection of power outages and help utility personnel restore electricity to customers faster than ever before.
With this achievement, SDG&E stands as one of the first utilities in the nation to adopt an outage management system of this magnitude and sophistication for its entire service territory.
The OMS uses new computer software that provides grid operators with real time information about the status of the electric network to help them restore outages quicker. The new software enhances situational awareness of the entire distribution system and allows SDG&E to know what's happening on the grid for immediate detection and swifter restoration of outages.
SDG&E has integrated a Geographic Information System (GIS) into the new outage management system, which provides highly-detailed geographical images and technical data about the electric grid. In addition to localized outages, the OMS will prove useful to effectively track multiple outages during large storms to ensure power is restored as soon as possible.
The OMS leverages data from about 1.4 million smart meters that SDG&E has successfully installed across the region. The smart meters send remote alerts back to the control room within seconds of an outage occurring in the surrounding neighborhood. Previously, grid operators often had to rely on customers to report outages over the phone, which could take time if the outage occurred late at night or in a remote location with few residents.
By leveraging the technological flexibility of the smart meters, SDG&E will know immediately when an outage happens anywhere on the system and dispatch crews to make necessary and prompt repairs. The smart meters can also send a signal to let SDG&E know when power is back on.
In addition to smart meters, the new OMS uses other technology to bolster outage restoration times. SDG&E is continuing to install Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) devices throughout the electric system to enhance reliability overall. These "smart switches" employ wireless connections that allow remote control of switches and circuit breakers from a centralized control room.
The SCADA switches can move power around problem areas and quickly restore service to many customers prior to dispatching crews to the field. The utility has installed SCADA systems on 98 percent of transmission lines and 70 percent of distribution lines, which provide electricity to local communities.
SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 850,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The utility's area spans 4,100 square miles. SDG&E is committed to creating ways to help customers save energy and money every day. SDG&E is a unit of Sempra Energy (SRE), an energy services holding company based in San Diego.