Automatic power restoration

Applying new technology to automatically reconfigure the network in outages to restore power to communities faster. ​

The situation

We have a lot of small towns within our region that are hubs for their communities. They’re often on key routes, with visitors stopping in while passing through. Towns like Tai Tapu and Darfield are on a major tourist routes where power outages can cause huge disruption for businesses and the community. ​

We’ve been upgrading our network by replacing manual switches with tele-controlled switches. However, using these requires a Network Controller to manually assess options and create a switching schedule before restoration. We wanted to explore how we can limit the disruption of unplanned outages using emerging technology. ​

What we explored​

To get communities back up and running quicker following a fault, we explored an Automatic Power Restoration System (APRS) that leverages the power of our remote switches with a restoration algorithm that significantly reduces outage times. An algorithm determines the faulted line section, performs power flow studies and automatically restores as much of the network as possible automatically.​

We’re in the later stages of testing and configuring the system. Results so far have shown that outages could be reduced from 5-10 minutes to less than 1 minute. This is uncharted territory in Aotearoa New Zealand, and we’ve leveraged insight from early adopters, United Energy in Melbourne and UK Power Networks in London, to accelerate implementation. ​

Desired outcomes​

Our objective is to deploy the system with full control. This means that hypothetically if there’s an outage that affects 500 people, we can restore the majority of customers within one minute and have the remainder back on as soon as the fault is repaired. This makes outage events much smaller and more manageable, improves our outage frequency and duration measures, and crucially minimises disruption to homes and businesses.​