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Grid of the future: Role of transmission

The world is changing fast and the electric power grid is no exception.

New technologies will produce more changes in the grid over the next 10 years than during the prior century. For the longest time, power flowed just one way: from the power plants, across transmission lines, to substations and finally to homes and businesses.

Now, with more renewable energy like solar and wind at homes and businesses, that power flow is starting to become more two-way, with renewable power coming onto the grid.

Our network of transmission lines (#2) plays an important role in supporting renewables and in the electric grid of the future.

A cleaner energy future requires moving electricity to cities and other areas that need it. Transmission is critical in transporting renewable energy from where it is produced – often in remote, rural areas – to where it’s needed.

The sun doesn’t always shine, and wind doesn’t always blow.

New technologies are needed on the transmission system to keep electricity flowing whenever power is needed.

PPL is taking steps to modernize and upgrade the transmission system to help prevent outages for customers, safeguard against cyber and physical attacks, and to support adding more renewables to the grid.

Smart Grid sensors automatically identify problems on the grid, so power can be remotely rerouted to where it’s needed, isolating the problem and restoring power to customers more quickly.

We’re doing other things like using data analytics to signal when a piece of equipment needs to be replaced – before it can fail and cause a power outage.

Light Detection and ranging technology (LiDAR) allows PPL to map individual trees along the transmission rights-of-way and identify a tree that is damaged or diseased before it falls across a power line.

The importance of transmission and of a safe, secure and resilient grid will continue to increase. We’re investing now, to help reduce outages and keeping reliability strong.

Tracie Witter is PPL Electric Utilities regional affairs director.

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