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T&D World Magazine

New Zealand Utility Takes Step Toward Smarter Grid to Improve Reliability and Reduce Negative Impact of Power Outages

With goals of improving power reliability for consumers and adding more renewable energy, such as wind and solar to the grid, WEL Networks (Hamilton, New Zealand) is implementing GE Smart Grid technology.

GE's outage-management software will help WEL reduce outages and more quickly restore power when outages do occur. Eventually, this Smart Grid solution will work in conjunction with smart meters and advanced metering infrastructure to provide real-time knowledge of the grid's status. This knowledge will enable both proactive actions to prevent outages and reactive actions — such as intelligent rerouting, pinpoint repair deployment and circuit restorations — to reduce customer impact and help extend the life of utility assets.

“Power reliability and quality are two key factors behind our decision to implement GE's distribution management system (DMS),” said Dr. Julian Elder, chief executive of WEL Networks. “GE's DMS system also will help us integrate renewables, which will help reduce New Zealand's overall carbon emissions and provide more secure levels of supply on a regional basis.”

This project supports the New Zealand government's goal of carbon neutrality and generating 90% renewable electricity by 2025, from 70% today.

As more renewable energy is generated by alternative sources, power will enter the network from multiple locations. GE's DMS provides the utility with live information about the network to help manage the distribution of renewable energy.

The DMS deployed by WEL is one of several solutions in GE's Smart Grid portfolio. The efficiency gains achieved by upgrading to a smarter grid from a conventional one would be akin to switching from a typewriter to a personal computer. The Smart Grid is a banner for many products, including hardware, like smart meters and capacitors, and software, like geospatial information systems, distribution management systems and demand-side response.

WEL Networks owns, develops and maintains the electricity network of lines, cables, substations and associated infrastructure. Its network connects 82,000 customers to the national transmission and generation facilities and is the fifth-largest electricity utility in New Zealand out of a total of 28 utilities.

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