Last year, Gulf Power customers enjoyed fewer outages than in any time in recent history. In fact, investments in the power grid have improved reliability for the utility’s 436,000 customers by almost 40 percent since 2010.
“The key to keeping reliability high for customers is investing in technology, maintenance and upgrades,” said Jeff Rogers, Corporate Communications manager. “Making sure our customers can count on us for reliable electricity is very important, and the investments we continue to make in our system are paying off.”
Measuring reliability includes reviewing the total number of outages and the length of outages. In 2014, the number of power outages caused by lightning increased by 26 percent. However, the duration of those outages did not increase at all from 2013.
The reasons are many. Gulf Power is in the middle of the largest power grid construction project in company history. Transmission lines are being upgraded, and substations are being rebuilt or upgraded.
Smart, self-healing devices also reduce the duration of outages. The installation of lightning arrestors helps reduce the number of outages, and installation of reclosers can help reduce the number of customers who are affected. Since 2010, Gulf Power has installed more than 600 reclosers that help reduce the number of customers who would experience a power outage. A recloser is essentially a smart circuit breaker that can automatically restore service once the fault is no longer on the grid.
Another vital program that helps improve reliability is Gulf Power’s vegetation management program. The annual program involves trimming trees near power lines, which helps keep branches from causing power outages. This is considered a critically important program heading into tropical storm season.
“Upgrading and improving our infrastructure is making our power grid stronger and more robust,” Rogers said, “and will help maintain high reliability today and into the future.”