To maintain reliable service, TEP needs real-time information about a system spread out over more than 1,100 square miles, including plenty of rugged, remote terrain.
That’s why we recently upgraded software and communications systems used 24 hours a day, all year long for monitoring and operating our local energy grid.
“The demands placed on our electric system are constantly changing, so having more real-time information allows our system operators to work more effectively,” said Erik Bakken, Vice President of System Operations and Energy Resources. “These investments will help us collect performance data we can use to prioritize upgrades and system maintenance while supporting secure communications with field personnel who work in challenging and sometimes dangerous conditions.”
TEP invested about $12 million to upgrade the distribution management system that our System Control operators use to monitor and control the network that delivers power to customers and helps manage the output of rooftop solar arrays. Our energy grid is actively managed to accommodate fluctuating usage, intermittent rooftop solar production, outages, weather, scheduled maintenance and other factors. These distribution upgrades are part of nearly $1.8 billion TEP has invested in in our energy grid since 2018 to improve service reliability for customers.
System operators use distribution management software to balance electric demand on specific circuits that deliver service to customers. They also use it to track outages and equipment repairs so that field employees can more safely perform their work.
Operators are now better equipped to collect and analyze outage data, which can help speed restoration of service to customers. The new distribution management system is also intended to provide greater operational flexibility as additional improvements to our local energy grid are completed in the future.
Additionally, the company invested about $3.2 million to upgrade radio network equipment that field employees use every day to communicate with each other and system operators. That upgrade expands upon improvements TEP made a few years ago when it purchased new truck-mounted and handheld radios and other communications equipment for employees.
“A reliable radio communications system is an essential part of operating the grid. When field employees install new equipment or make repairs to damaged equipment, they must be able to coordinate with system operators before circuits are re-energized and service is restored to customers,” Bakken said. “These new tools help us to keep the lights on while protecting the safety of our employees and the public.”
Communication with system control is particularly important when field employees respond to downed power lines and other hazardous conditions caused by summer thunderstorms.