Jan. 30, 2013
San Diego Gas & Electric
(SDG&E) is installing several smart grid technologies on the electric grid in the
region that are creating a more resilient and responsive energy network for local residents. These technologies include wireless sensors that automatically detect outages and other problems on the electric grid, and devices that smoothly integrate environmentally beneficial renewable energy. With the installation of these technologies, SDG&E is creating a more automated electric grid that promotes greater awareness of system conditions and can quickly respond to changes and events. In many cases, this grid will even be able to use this information to "heal" itself remotely or sense problems before they occur.
's electric grid is becoming one of the most advanced and reliable energy systems in the nation," said
, vice president of electric operations for SDG&E. "The grid can respond immediately to outages and is increasingly resilient to events, while being more sustainable overall through the integration of clean energy. We are proud to be implementing these innovative smart grid technologies for the benefit of
By using an efficient broad-based wireless network provided by a local
company called On-Ramp Wireless, the fault detectors described above immediately send alarms to grid operators if a problem occurs anywhere along the power lines. Instead of the time-consuming process of dispatching crews in the field to look for faults on electric wires during an outage, SDG&E will know where the outage occurred on the electric line and can quickly send crews to that location based on the automatic wireless signals sent by these devices. SDG&E has installed 2,000 of these devices throughout the region and intends to install 10,000 by 2017.
In addition to enhancing reliability and reducing outage times through these wireless sensors, the automation of the electric grid will also provide numerous environmental benefits by efficiently integrating clean renewable energy onto the system. These new cleaner forms of renewable energy – wind and solar – pose some challenges to utilities because they are intermittent by nature. If a cloud moves in front of the sun or the wind stops blowing, the power output of these sources can become unavailable suddenly and indefinitely. The smart grid is designed to counter the highly intermittent nature of renewable energy sources through new technology that senses and accounts for any variability in near real time.