What drives the need for transmission improvement
Early in our operational existence, we focused on “seams” issues – finding the logical places in our service area to link transmission assets to create a smooth‑flowing electrical highway to serve our customers. Those major network‑driven projects accounted for significant expenditures in the build‑out of our 345‑kV system. As we were making our network more interconnected and reliable, we also focused on the life cycle maintenance of our existing assets and on an asset management strategy to complement and create synergies with our network additions.
Today, our effective management of transmission components complements our planning strategy for reliability and economic benefits.
In a collaborative process, asset management and planning work with other functional groups and stakeholders to achieve the best solutions to transmission system needs. Asset management staff monitor the system through maintenance and inspection programs to identify issues related to equipment performance or condition. Equipment needing attention is discussed with planning to determine if other reliability needs exist on that line or within the geographical area. Projects are evaluated using various options to determine the best means of maintaining reliability.
Common needs that drive system improvements include:
- New or retiring generating units – changes in generation impact transmission
- Economics – greater access to the wholesale energy marketplace provides economic opportunities to utility customers
- Public policy – renewable energy mandates and pending air quality regulations will affect how the transmission system will be built and used
- Asset renewal – maintaining the system in good operating condition extends its life and improves safety and performance
- New technologies – synchronized phasor measurements, demand‑side management and distributed resources affect how the grid is planned and operated to maintain reliability
- Communications – improvements in communication technology, such as fiber optics, are incorporated to support an ever‑increasing need to see and control what is happening on the transmission system in real time
- Interconnections – changes in how our customers distribute electricity to consumers require new or modified transmission facilities