How AMI Can Improve Grid Reliability and Outage Response

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Leveraging AMI to improve grid reliability and outage response

BY TIM WOLF, Itron

Getting a handle on overall grid reliability and outage trends for the entire U.S. can be challenging. Despite generally high reliability numbers, power outages are occurring more frequently and the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that outages cost the American economy as much $150 billion per year. Unfortunately, outages are affecting more people and lasting longer than just a decade ago. These facts are due, at least in part, to a combination of underinvestment in the power grid over the past quarter century, continually increasing demand for electricity among businesses and consumers, and the more frequent occurrence of severe storms.

GOING DARK MORE OFTEN
According to the University of Minnesota Center for Smart Grid Technologies, 349 significant power outages occurred between 2005 and 2009 in the U.S.,each of which affected at least 50,000 consumers. The number of outages is more than double the number of comparable outages that occurred from 2000 to 2004, and more than eight times the number of outages of that scale that occurred from 1991 to 1995.

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