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THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY – March 2024, by Sid Crouch, GTTSi Chief Technical Consultant

  • By Admin
  • March 4, 2024

According to the Grid Deployment Office, 70% of our nation’s transmission lines are more than 25 years old, and many are at the end of their 50 to 80-year lifecycle. Upgrades are needed, and in some areas, are way behind.
Investor-owned utilities have been working on this for years. Since 2019 they have invested over $70 billion. The Biden Administration has also contributed – $80 billion with the Inflation Reduction Act and Department of Energy’s Grid Resilience & Innovation Partnerships program. In fact, capital spending in 2023 for North America’s electric, gas, and water utilities was $205 billion and expected to increase to $210 billion and $215 billion in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

These investments will bring changes to the grid, its architecture, and how it operates, gradually decentralizing the power systems, with self-healing components that do not depend on a central communication system to operate. A new architecture doesn’t mean a new control room, with more monitoring, and/or more metering. Instead, the grid will have smart devices that perform the work. They will work independently to keep the power on, with the goal of minimizing the duration of, or even eliminating, outages.
In my community, I have already seen some changes with what is called “the last mile of distribution” – new cables with higher capacity have been installed, along with stronger, more resilient infrastructure, to support them. Perhaps you have seen this occur in your own area?