CPS Energy to Modernize Grid

June 29, 2021
Initiative to help reduce the frequency and duration of power outages, reduce storm impacts, restore service faster when outages occur.

CPS Energy has selected 100% employee-owned engineering, construction, and architecture firm Burns & McDonnell as program manager for a grid modernization program to improve service quality for the utility's nearly 850,000 electricity customers.

The cutting-edge grid modernization initiative will use state-of-the-art equipment and technologies to help reduce the frequency and duration of power outages, reduce storm impacts, and restore service faster when outages occur. Burns & McDonnell will serve as engineer and construction manager over the next four years as CPS Energy launches its Accelerated Recloser Deployment Program.

In executing this four-year program, CPS Energy is leveraging the skillset of Burns & McDonnell from system planning to final equipment commissioning. The firm will provide planning, engineering design, testing, installation/construction, and commissioning of the recloser and TripSaver devices on a turnkey basis. CPS Energy will be responsible for equipment and materials procurement.

"We are incredibly excited and humbled by the trust extended to us by CPS Energy," said Leslie Duke, president and general manager, Burns & McDonnell offices in the Houston region. "This is an investment that will pay dividends many times over for the residents of San Antonio, and we are excited to deliver on this groundbreaking opportunity."

The program calls for installation of approximately 144 recloser devices and an additional 300 TripSavers each year on distribution lines throughout the city. Recloser counts will increase throughout the life of the program.

Often used in place of conventional fuses, reclosers test whether faults are temporary and, if so, can restore power quickly with very little detectible interruption. The devices are designed to automatically open, interrupting electrical current when a fault occurs, and then automatically reclose to detect if the fault is still present.

1898 & Co., part of Burns & McDonnell, will perform all planning activities for specific substations where analysis of distribution grid identifies the need and placement for equipment down to the individual circuits.

Once installed, the firm's supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and technical field services (TFS) teams in Houston will be handling the final phase of testing and commissioning of the equipment and bringing it online for CPS Energy. The project is on track to start construction in mid-July with delivery of the first batch of reclosers.

"Automated fault detection devices are among the most important elements of a more reliable and resilient electrical infrastructure," said Don Cannon, distribution engineering manager for the Texas region of Burns & McDonnell. "With the ability to detect everything from minor voltage sags to more serious power events, these system improvements will greatly improve overall service quality and reliability for CPS Energy."

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