Improving Power Grid Reliability and Operational Efficiency

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As developed and digital as today’s world has become, there are still regions around the globe rural enough that towns are few and far between, and dial-up internet connections still predominate. But even in these remote locations, electricity remains a lifeline, and information on line conditions and customer usage is critical to keeping utility systems up and running.

New Zealand presents just such challenges for its national transmission company. With almost 12,000 kilometers of line across a country with a population density of 18 people per square kilometer, Transpower NZ Ltd. has the responsibility for maintaining a system that, in some areas, can be very difficult to access. Schneider Electric has helped the company gain new visibility into its operations and significantly reduced the need for time-consuming field visits for power meter reading and calibration.

To comply with local requirements specifying that meters be recalibrated and recertified every three years, Transpower personnel had been traveling to more than 400 meter points throughout the system to manually calibrate each piece of equipment. Test equipment had to be carried to each site, and often a temporary meter also was needed for revenue measurement and recording while testing was underway. The process was inefficient and expensive.

Deciding a technology upgrade was called for, company managers turned to Schneider Electric for assistance. Among the criteria for replacement meters were plug-in functionality and remote data collection that could still function with Transpower’s legacy dial-up internet connections. Additionally, the company wanted to simplify inventory needs by reducing the 20 existing meter-template designs down to one or two.

The solution proved to be the PowerLogic ION8800 meter, which ticked all the boxes in Transpower’s wish list. Beyond just revenue information, the new meters also monitor ongoing power quality conditions, with alarming capabilities that can help operators address potential issues before problems actually occur.

“We wanted to reduce maintenance costs, and this has been achieved by improving the reliability and ease with which the installations are maintained,” said Ian Martin, Transpower’s Metering Services Manager. “The meters will now self-report and alert us if there’s something we might be concerned about. If what’s normal for that site suddenly changes, the meter will tell us.”

You can learn more about how Schneider Electric helped Transpower improve system performance in this case study.

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