Upgrading the Electric Grid
At our utility, Southern California Edison, we're building a smarter grid with new technology that will make power more dependable, safer, and cleaner.
Making the Grid More Dependable, Safer and Cleaner
Our utility’s customers expect electric power to be available at their homes and businesses 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reliably providing that service requires a vast infrastructure of transformers, circuit breakers, overhead and underground lines, and dedicated, well-trained employees to operate and maintain all of it.
As a result, you’ll see our crews out in the community making upgrades to the grid to make it smarter and improve reliability. We’re also enhancing cyber security to keep the grid safe from hackers. And, we’re modernizing the grid to integrate more clean energy, with 33% of our power coming from renewables by 2020.
"The next time you see Edison crews in your community, you’ll know they’re working to upgrade the grid, make it smarter, and improve reliability."
New Infrastructure Supports Renewables and Economic Growth
As new communities are built, we construct infrastructure to get power to all parts of the community. This requires new lines to bring in power from the transmission grid, substations to transform it to appropriate voltages, and new circuits and distribution facilities to get power to where it is needed.
As electricity needs increase in existing communities, we upgrade and add to our facilities to make sure we are ready to handle the increased load. This can be as simple as replacing a small distribution transformer with a larger one, which also may require a larger pole. Or it can be as big a job as building a new substation.
Additionally, as California increases the use of renewable generation, we are investing in new transmission lines connecting these plants to the rest of the grid and increasing the flexibility of the grid to handle the fluctuating power from solar and wind generation, as well as two-way flows of power from customer-owned generation and energy storage, such as batteries and electric vehicles.
We recognize that infrastructure investment places upward pressure on customer rates. At SCE we are working to lower our own operating costs and improve productivity in an effort to keep rates reasonable. For example, we’ve adopted new tools for analyzing local temperatures, the resulting need for power, and the ability of existing equipment to meet that need. Use of these new tools has enabled us to defer or cancel several large infrastructure projects.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
in our area
Investing in Electricity Infrastructure
To improve safety and reliability, we are investing billions of dollars to replace and upgrade our infrastructure where needed. Our equipment and infrastructure upgrades will help prevent failure and reduce the likelihood of outages.
These upgrades include:
- Updating thousands of transmission and distribution poles
- Replacing hundreds of miles of underground cables
- Replacing hundreds of underground structures such as vaults and manholes
- Upgrading critical distribution equipment; capacitor banks, switches, and circuit breakers
- Building new distribution circuits to serve electrical demands in our communities
- Performing street light maintenance
Safety and Reliability Drive the Schedule
To improve power reliability and limit the impact of outages, we’re prioritizing upgrades to problem circuits. We are constantly inspecting and doing preventative maintenance on our infrastructure to ensure we identify and repair emerging problems.
We’re also inspecting each of the 1.4 million poles in the SCE system over the next seven years – that’s equal to 1,000 poles each business day. Poles age, and other utilities like cable TV companies are permitted to place additional equipment on them. For these and other reasons, we’re making sure that the poles aren’t carrying too much weight and that they meet safety standards.
Communicating with Cities and Customers to Reduce the Impacts of Construction Activities
Unfortunately, some maintenance and upgrade work cannot be completed without shutting off power to customers – our crews need to work safely. Construction can also require additional permits from cities and street closures for the safety of drivers and pedestrians. Our goal is to set and maintain an upgrade schedule that has as little impact as possible on our customers and communities. We’re working closely with cities to minimize the effects by coordinating work schedules and sharing information on planned work.
We’re also finding new ways to keep our customers informed, so that when the power does go out, they get the information they need. Later this year, we will begin to implement an automated notification process so customers who will be affected receive an additional notification, so they can better plan around upcoming maintenance and upgrade outages.