To help restore electric service to communities after catastrophic emergencies or significant natural events, 28 utilities – including American Transmission Co. and ITC Midwest – have now committed to participate in the RESTORE program, which establishes a proactive approach to providing critical equipment for utilities that need additional resources during disaster recovery. The program establishes a binding agreement among participating utilities.
The national importance of a strategic transformer reserve has been highlighted by the Department of Energy's Strategic Transformer Reserve Report to Congress earlier this year. Newly formed at the time of that DOE Report, the RESTORE program is now a fully functional collaborative effort that takes advantage of regional cooperation and is consistent with DOE's recommendation supporting voluntary industry-based options to address the reserve.
RESTORE, or Regional Equipment Sharing for Transmission Outage Restoration, was founded in 2016 by Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company (LG&E and KU), PPL Electric Utilities, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Southern Company to identify and share spare transformers and other transmission equipment, which will then be available for purchase by other participants in the event of a major disaster within their service area.
"Utility cooperation and the ability to call on additional resources play a critical role during times of natural disasters and other emergencies that can impact our electric transmission system," said John Lucas, Chair of RESTORE's Operating Committee and Southern Company General Manager of Transmission Policy and Services.
"Launching the RESTORE program, coupled with existing industry programs and each utility's internal resources, further strengthens total grid resiliency for the region and electricity customers," said Mark Davis, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for ATC.
Jon Jipping, Chief Operating Officer for ITC Holdings Corp., including ITC Midwest, added: "Establishing these types of relationships and being able to call on more than 20 neighboring utilities at a moment's notice will mean a more efficient response and expedited recovery when experiencing these types of emergencies."
The program has now expanded to include 20 additional participating utilities: Ameren Missouri, Ameren Illinois, Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois, American Transmission Company LLC, Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc., six Duke Energy utilities, Duquesne Light Company, East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Entergy Corporation, Florida Power and Light Company, ITC Midwest, ITC Transmission, METC, Santee Cooper, and South Carolina Electric & Gas Company.
RESTORE is designed to enhance the resilience and reliability of the power grid and provide additional sources for utilities seeking critical equipment during disaster recovery and does not replace existing programs or agreements already in place. The RESTORE agreement is now in place among all participating utilities, except a few that must first obtain state approval to execute the agreement.