Intelligent Underground Distribution

Image courtesy of Toronto Hydro

Unearthing the potential in Smart Grid technologies

BY DOUG HOUSEMAN, IEEE Senior Member, EnerNex Corporation

After Hurricane Sandy, resiliency became a key factor in the modernization of the power grid. In looking at modernization and resiliency, underground was the first item on many lists. Undergrounding lines avoids many problems that people associate with outages. However, it has its own set of issues, not the least of which is cost—installing underground lines costs approximately three times that of overhead lines.

Underground systems come in several flavors, from the massively networked systems of Tokyo and Manhattan to long rural radial systems that have sprung up in areas that are moving from medium-size farms to gated communities.

Some underground systems use large amounts of automation to keep the power on—Manhattan is a good example, while others are almost purely manual—Amsterdam in the Netherlands is a worthy example in this case.

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