Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) engineers work at the Power Delivery Diagnostic Center at the company’s office in Jupiter, Fla., March 17, 2015. FPL recently announced the launch of its new, high-tech Power Delivery Diagnostic Center, which is designed to use advanced smart grid technology to better manage the electric system and deliver reliable service that ranks among the best in the nation. Photo credit: Doug Murray/FPL

FPL Unveils New Smart Grid Technology Center

April 1, 2015
Integrating advanced technology is one example of FPL's commitment to building a stronger, smarter electric grid

Florida Power & Light Co. has launched its new, high-tech Power Delivery Diagnostic Center, which is designed to leverage advanced smart grid technology to better manage the electric system and deliver reliable service that ranks among the best in the nation.

"The electric grid, which was designed and built across the United States many years ago, has remained largely unchanged for decades," said Manny Miranda, vice president of power delivery for FPL. "During the past few years, however, we've made – and we continue to make – significant improvements by integrating advanced technology to make the grid much stronger and smarter. Through innovative solutions such as this diagnostic center, we have greater awareness of the performance of FPL's grid, one of the most advanced systems in the nation, enabling us to improve reliability for our customers."

FPL is investing in smart grid technology and using predictive analytics to deliver real-time data to engineers in its diagnostic center. Engineers, in turn, analyze the data to measure and improve the performance of the electric grid.

FPL began modernizing its system in 2010 with the widespread installation of smart meters, funded in part by a $200 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Since then, FPL has invested an additional $600 million, installing more than 12,000 smart devices and thousands of sensors and monitors on transformers, breakers and battery banks. The company is also investing in digital microprocessor technology that provides real-time telemetry and fault information – helping the company quickly identify and locate potential causes of outages.

"While other utilities are on the doorstep of a technological leap that will set new expectations for how companies handle reliability, FPL is already a national leader," said Jeff Lewis, PA Consulting Group's ReliabilityOne™ program director. "FPL has kept the needs of customers at the forefront of its system improvements, hinging its business success on maintaining the highest standard of reliability."

Customer benefits of a smarter grid

  • Improved overall service reliability – increased reliability by more than 20 percent in the last five years
  • Enhanced detection and prevention of outages
  • Reduction in the length of outages
  • Faster repairs and more accurate time estimates for service restoration
  • Keeping customer bills low – by reducing operating costs and increasing efficiencies
  • Unprecedented customer control over energy usage – customers with activated smart meters can see their energy use by the hour, day and month on their "Energy Dashboard"

Smart meters help FPL run its operations more efficiently, delivering more than $30 million in operational savings in 2014 alone – savings that help FPL keep bills low for customers. More savings come from a reduction in the number of times FPL crews have to make trips into the field to perform work – 170,000 fewer field visits through 2014. Customers also benefit from faster, more convenient service connection and disconnection when opening or closing accounts.

FPL recently filed its annual 2015 Smart Meter Progress Report with the Florida Public Service Commission, outlining 2014 achievements.

2014 achievements

  • Installed 150,000 smart meters for commercial and industrial customers
  • Improved outage detection, prevention and service restoration
    • 40,000 outage tickets supplemented with beneficial smart meter data – helping expedite restoration
    • 10,000 proactive outage tickets generated before the customer reported the outage; service restored for 2,000 of these before the customer called FPL
    • 2,000 transformers proactively replaced – smart data helps reveal potential issues with equipment so crews can replace it before it breaks
    • 500,000 avoided customer outages
    • 1,600 automated switches added to the electric system – 400 feeder switches and 1,200 lateral switches that help improve the system's ability to automatically restore and reroute power, decreasing the number of customers affected by outages

2015 plans

  • Completion of smart meter deployment to commercial and industrial customers
  • Launch of meter enclosure alert service (MEAS) – proactive detection of potential power quality issues for customers due to issues with their meter enclosures
  • Deployment of thousands of smart grid devices to further improve reliable service - including an additional 775 automated feeder switches, more than 20,000 automated lateral switches, distribution grid sensors and monitors, fault current indicators and vault transformer monitors

"We have made remarkable strides in our ability to monitor and manage the electric system today compared to even a few years ago. Now we can detect and prevent many issues before they become problems for our customers, and when outages do occur, we restore power quicker and get life back to normal faster," said Miranda.

Investing in smart grid technology is part of FPL's commitment to building a stronger, smarter grid while giving customers unprecedented ability to gain control over their energy use. FPL launched its online Energy Dashboard, where customers monitor and assess their energy use to help lower their bills. Last year, customers accessed the Energy Dashboard more than 3 million times. FPL continues to enhance dashboard features and improve functions for its business, net-metering (solar) and time-of-use rate customers.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of T&D World, create an account today!