Improving the Grid’s Reliability


Today’s dependence on a reliable power supply is greater than ever. From government supplied essential services to emergency health services; for business and manufacturing operations fueling employment and the economy and for daily household requirements and powering of individual electronic devices, all are critically dependent on a highly reliable power grid.

Animal and bird caused outages are a significant cause of power interruptions accounting for between 12% and 20% of all outages (Source: EPRI 2001). These types of outages are preventable with the right solution.

SAIFI and SAIDI (Frequency and Duration of Outages) statistics are negatively impacted by animal and bird caused outages.In addition to adversely affecting SAIFI and SAIDI measurements, animal and bird caused outages cost utilities in damaged equipment costs, labor costs to deal with the outage and lost field productivity for other projects. The reputation and reliability of an electric utility is also negatively affected.

According to the Berkely National Laboratory Report, November, 2003, “The customer damage functions express customer outage costs for a given outage scenario and customer class as a function of location, time of day, consumption, and business type. One can use the damage functions to calculate outage costs for specific customer types. For example, using the customer damage functions, the cost experienced by an “average” customer resulting from a 1 hour summer afternoon outage is estimated to be approximately $3 for a residential customer, $1,200 for small-medium commercial and industrial customer, and $82,000 for large commercial and industrial customer.”

Considering the number of businesses and individuals utilizing the grid, the downstream costs of an outage are very high in addition to the actual costs of repair. Notwithstanding, the risk of interruption to critical public and private operations can risk life saving services.
Justifying the expense of selecting the best available solution for preventing outages can be made using an ROI model that measures outage improvement over a period of time. One such study conducted by AltaLink identified the following findings:

Effectiveness Evaluation

To date AltaLink’s cover-up program has resulted in material and measureable improvements in reliability. To assess the effectiveness of the program a thorough examination and comparison of performance before and after the installation of cover-up was performed; effectiveness evaluation is ongoing annually. When evaluating those stations which had a history of at least one wildlife related contact every two years, the frequency of contacts drops from 0.67 to 0.03 following the installation of cover-up . This amounts to a 95% reduction in wildlife related contact, including those contacts that were not mitigated due to faulty and/or poor installation practices. This has in turn translated to improved customer performance and customer savings by reducing overall SAIFI (frequency of interruptions) by greater than 3% and SAIDI (interruption duration) by greater than 8%.

Source: Use of Custom-Fitted Cover-Ups to Reduce Power Outages and Mitigate Avian Electrocutions in AltaLink substations in Alberta, Canada (Heck and Sutherland, 2013)

Cost benefit analysis

The benefits are clear, not only is the program a win-win in terms of reducing bird electrocutions/deaths and the resulting outages and maintenance costs, but it also results in significant savings to customers whom expect highly reliable service. Performing a conservative Cost-Benefit analysis to the hypothetical example discussed earlier results in an internal rate of return of 17% and a payback of 7 years! With cheaper installations such as smaller or simpler sites the return is even greater at 33% and a payback of 3.5 years. The analysis takes into account typical installation costs, outage rates, product effectiveness and maintenance costs. It assumes the following: Site averaged 1 contact every 3 years; Maintenance cost of $8,000 per outage; Product is 100% effective; Installation cost of $90,000-$180,000; Customer load is 5 MW valued at $15 per unserved kWh; and 2.15% Inflation rate.

Source: Use of Custom-Fitted Cover-Ups to Reduce Power Outages and Mitigate Avian Electrocutions in AltaLink substations in Alberta, Canada (Heck and Sutherland, 2013)

Greenjacket Inc. offers solutions to utilities to prevent common or unique animal and bird caused outage issues. Our precise fit design capabilities combined with our lineman equipment and bird and animal expertise provides customers’ best in class cover-up focused on delivering quality solutions.

Please refer to our Categories of Cover-up Section to view existing solutions or contact us with your unique issue and we will help design the appropriate solution.

Read AltaLink’s Measureable ROI Article

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