Investment plan

Georgia Power Shares Grid Investment Plan

With growing global interest in transitioning to a net-zero carbon future and serving a state with a growing population, Georgia Power, like many utilities, is focused on making essential and critical investments to provide a reliable and efficient power to customers today while meeting growing demand. from the future. The network is an essential lifeline on which critical infrastructure depends, including hospitals, 9-1-1 emergency centers, police, fire, water and sewer services, not to mention arterial roads. and neighborhoods. The impact of an interruption in electrical service can weaken a community, so it is crucial for utilities to build grid resilience.
Georgia Power’s Grid Investment Plan aims to build the future of energy today. From transmission lines that carry electricity from power plants to substations and power lines that deliver safe, affordable, and clean power to customers’ homes and businesses, the utility is focused on improving key areas of power. opportunity on the energy network.

The utility is recognized by JD Power, the consumer data and rankings research firm, as an industry leader in customer satisfaction. Over the past four years, a significant number of its clients have transitioned to working from home. Customers are more sensitive to residential outages, especially on blue sky days. For this reason, Georgia Power has identified opportunities to strengthen the energy grid and improve the customer experience, which form the basis of its grid investment plan.

The plan

In 2019, Georgia Power considered and proposed a massive power grid investment project, gaining approval from the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) to begin work in 2020. As customers see crews in the field Maintaining energy infrastructure every day, working under this plan goes beyond the day-to-day and tackles underperforming equipment and aging substations, while strengthening power lines to make the more resilient system.

Whether it’s blue skies or stormy weather, resiliency can help utilities prevent outages and, when a service outage occurs, restore power faster, even when no system is down. weatherproof. In Georgia, the network faces hurricanes, ice and snow, thunderstorms with high winds and lightning, and typically more than 50 days a year with temperatures above 90°F (32°C) .

Georgia Power’s grid investment plan focuses on upgrading transmission and distribution infrastructure on the power grid to improve system reliability and resilience and reduce the number and duration of outages current experienced by customers.

During the initial three-year phase of the plan, from 2020 to 2022, Georgia Power is investing US$1.3 billion in strategic power grid upgrades, which will positively impact service for approximately 280,000 clients. To date, the project has included adding more than 280 miles (451 km) of new neighborhood power lines, installing more than 830 smart devices on main power lines, rebuilding four substations and the installation or replacement of more than 13,000 electric poles that no longer met the needs of the public service. standards.

The plan began geographically around the eastern and southern parts of the Atlanta, Georgia metro area, as well as the northwest corner of the state, where the utility identified power lines in need of upgrades. The plan is strategic and efficient, with project locations selected based on service history and performance data. Georgia Power has deliberately thought through these investments, analyzing performance data and trends to ensure it is putting its resources in the right places and leveraging technology to drive reliability forward.

Strategic investments

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2020 Georgia ranked among the top five states for population growth over the past decade. The World Population Review ranks it as the second fastest growing US state in 2022. This growth is increasing demand on the energy grid. Between more and more people plugging in multiple electronic devices, working from home and driving electric vehicles, the demand for reliable electricity
the service should grow.

Georgia Power carefully assessed the power grid and analyzed power line circuits to deploy custom solutions that will improve reliability and resiliency. The plan strategically targets underperforming distribution power lines and aging transmission assets. These investments not only benefit customers, but also support efforts to transition to a fleet with a net zero carbon footprint by 2050.

In its first phase, the utility deployed various custom solutions to help make the network more resilient, reduce service interruptions and shorten downtime. Some of the solutions have included deploying smart technologies throughout the network; improvement of substations and, in some cases, reconstruction of installations; reinforce main circuits and neighborhood power lines; add more neighborhood connections; and, where it makes sense, move the lines underground.

Install smart technology

As part of its grid investment plan, Georgia Power is installing smart technology that helps prevent power outages and when interruptions occur, service can be restored more quickly. Without automated line equipment, such as electronic reclosers and programmable fusers, a problem on the line can result in loss of power to all customers served by the line. By adding intelligent, automated line devices, outages are automatically isolated to smaller portions of the line, so fewer customers lose service when a problem occurs.

Improve substations

Investments in substations can have a lasting and positive impact on a growing community. Georgia Power is working on rebuilding and improving its substations. Substations carry high-voltage power, which is then safely reduced to meet the needs of homes and businesses in surrounding neighborhoods. By rebuilding some substations, replacing poorly performing equipment, and adding neighborhood power lines, the utility creates redundancies between substations and provides greater reliability for customers.

Aerial, Underground Reinforcement

After reviewing transmission line performance data from across the state, the utility targeted those most in need of work. Depending on their condition, overhead lines and structures are replaced as well as transmission elements approaching their life cycle according to industry standards.

Some of the work involves burying the neighborhood’s power lines, making them much less vulnerable to falling trees, high winds and other adverse weather conditions. By placing these lines underground, where it makes sense, the utility can reduce outages on overhead lines. Burying power lines can help create a more resilient energy grid because it makes the lines less vulnerable. It also creates a safer environment for utility teams.

For every reduced airline failure, employees are one less truck turn and one less time they are placed in an emergency response situation. Burial, however, is not a foolproof solution. In areas prone to flooding, underground root systems or wildlife, and hazards from digging or other disturbances, burying lines is not a good option. Also, when a problem occurs underground, it can be more difficult and disruptive to restore service.

Power line connections

Georgia Power is also upgrading neighborhood utility poles and lines, replacing those that no longer meet its standards. The utility is adding line connections and relocating power lines to forward easements, to allow repair crews easier access to the line in the event of a fault and restore power more quickly. It also improves basic insulation levels to better protect equipment.

Results of the first phase

With its Grid Investment Plan, Georgia Power is building an energy future for its customers, investing in the grid to make it more resilient. These improvements allow the network to better withstand conditions such as extreme temperatures, high winds, storms and other harsh conditions.

The plan is about making smart investments that advance the utility’s commitment to providing the safe, clean, affordable, and reliable power customers expect and deserve — and the plan is working. Network improvements from the first phase of the utility’s investment plan are showing results of up to 40% improved reliability for many customers, which means 40% fewer outages and, when service is interrupted, faster recovery times.

Editor’s note: An interactive map of the improvements is available at GeorgiaPower.com/Grid. Enter an address to see where teams are working on grid investment projects to make the energy grid more resilient.

Fran Forehand serves as senior vice president of power supply for Georgia Power. In this role, she is responsible for the safety and health as well as the planning, design, operation, construction and maintenance of Georgia Power’s distribution and transmission systems. Under his leadership, the power distribution organization reliably serves 2.7 million customers in 155 Georgia counties with a network of more than 77,000 miles (123,919 km) of distribution lines and more than 12,000 miles (19,312 km) of transmission lines. She also sits on the public service management board.