AVANGRID, Inc. is developing a comprehensive and robust resiliency plan – Transforming Energy – to address the impact severe storms have on infrastructure throughout AVANGRID’s utilities’ service territories. The plan includes measures that will harden the power grid to better withstand storms while also utilizing technology that will help customers better manage their energy consumption.
The frequency and severity of storms continues to increase, and recent storms have packed a powerful punch, inflicting serious damage to electrical infrastructure. AVANGRID is committed to meeting this challenge head-on by investing in solutions to mitigate the hardships these storms impose on our customers.
“Over the past 16 months alone, Avangrid Networks’ utilities in Maine, New York and Connecticut have incurred over $450 million in storm damage and restoration costs,” said Bob Kump, CEO of Avangrid Networks. “As these weather patterns become the new norm, it is imperative that we implement a long-term plan to harden our grid and help ensure that our customers experience the level of reliability they expect from their energy company regardless of the weather.”
Key elements of AVANGRID’s Transforming Energy plan include:
- Accelerated replacement of wood poles based on a specific list of criteria including physical condition, structural deficiencies and recent circuit performance.
- Increased use of insulated spacer cable or “tree wire” to minimize outages in the instance of tree contact.
- An analysis of areas where electrical infrastructure hardening, including undergrounding or new technologies such as batteries or microgrids, would be cost beneficial based on circuit performance.
- More aggressive “ground to sky” tree trimming and the identification and remediation of hazardous trees outside the right-of-way along critical infrastructure;
- Targeted distribution circuit upgrades to improve grid structure to minimize impact and provide alternative sources of supply to speed up restoration flexibility.
- Full implementation of Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) to provide our energy companies with greater visibility to identify issues during storms faster.
- Transforming Energy will address Avangrid Networks companies including NYSEG, RG&E, and Central Maine Power. The extent and scope of hardening and remediation efforts will differ by company based on each company’s specific needs and criteria, and will require regulatory approval.
“As we develop our plan, a key focus will be on tree-related interruptions, which are the leading cause of outages,” Kump added. “Eighty percent of storm-related outages are caused by trees, over half of which are outside of our right-of-way. That’s why we will look to improve our vegetation management protocols, working collaboratively with local municipalities, public works entities and individual customers to tackle potential problems both inside and outside of our right-of-way.”
Under the plan, AVANGRID anticipates investing about $2.5 billion over the next 10 years. This includes an existing $500 million proposal in New York for the full rollout of AMI by NYSEG and RG&E. AMI provides numerous benefits including faster response to storm restoration and the ability for customers to better manage their energy use through access to hourly usage data. Customers can also participate in innovative rate options and take advantage of other smart solutions in their homes. This infrastructure is already in place at Central Maine Power, as well as United Illuminating in Connecticut.
As AVANGRID continues to refine and fine tune the resiliency plan, the company will also analyze financial and personnel requirements. “We are committed to meeting our customers’ expectations, and will work closely with regulators and elected officials in the states where we operate, to ensure our plan advances that objective in a cost efficient manner,” Kump said.