Powering Strong Communities

Three Florida cities demonstrate cost efficacy of fault detection and resolution device

Three Florida public power utilities – the Town of Havana, Keys Energy Services, and the City of Tallahassee – showed how installation of reclosers can be a cost-effective way to improve system reliability as part of a demonstration project.

The Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA), an Orlando-based wholesale power agency, coordinated the project with the three participating cities and S&C Electric Company, the device manufacturer.

As part of the project, the cities installed 39 TripSavers, a device that detects faults on power lines and then clears the problem to maintain power to customers. The reclosers can resolve common fault conditions caused by animals, lightning, and vegetation without the need to send lineworkers to the scene.

The installed devices increased the overall system reliability of all three electric utilities compared to last year. According to a release from FMPA, the device prevented 1,731 customer interruptions, showed that a small deployment of technology can have a big impact to a city’s reliability, proved that targeting electric lines that historically experience the most interruptions is most beneficial, and showed that the technology can be beneficial to utilities of varying sizes.

Specifically, the Town of Havana experienced the greatest boost in system reliability, as measured by its System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) and System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) year to year, as the installed devices avoided four interruptions. For larger utilities, such as Tallahassee, the demonstration estimated that replacing 100 lateral fuses could reduce the utility’s SAIFI by 0.09 customer interruptions per year and its SAIDI by 6.9 minutes.

FMPA was awarded a $64,400 research grant from the American Public Power Association’s Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments (DEED) program to carry out the project. FMPA, the three participating cities, and S&C Electric Company, the TripSavers manufacturer, also contributed funding for a total project budget of $134,000. DEED members can read more about the project, Demonstration Project to Achieve Cost Effective Reliability Improvement Using Single-Phase Reclosers, on the DEED project database.

According to the project final report, a total of 24 fault events occurred during the 12-month investigation period across all three utilities, with the TripSavers avoiding 20 outages. Of the 20 avoided interruptions, 14 required a single reclose to clear the fault and six required two reclosures. The project estimated the cost saving of each avoided customer interruption to be between $3.62 and $60.90.

Jacob Williams, general manager and CEO of the Florida Municipal Power Agency, stated, “FMPA and its members provide affordable, reliable electricity to nearly 2.6 million Floridians. Our members already have a proven record of restoring power quickly, and we’re honored to support them in enhancing the reliability of their electric systems.”

“Utilities – especially smaller utilities – must carefully weigh investments in reliability to ensure they get the most for their dollars,” said Michele Fearnley Suddleson, director of the DEED program at the American Public Power Association. “I’m glad that DEED could support this effort to share this insight into how effective such investments can be and to help utilities make more informed choices.”