Utility's Capacitor Bank Control Automation Leads to Considerable Savings

Utilities are using edge applications more and more to enable innovative, cost-effective distribution grid management solutions, including Volt/VAR optimization. There are many ways in which electric distribution utilities communicate with and control downline field devices such as capacitor banks. There are several RF options; some of which are becoming obsolete. Morgan County REA in Colorado found themselves facing an end-of-life dilemma with their older Distribution Automation communications system and needed to find a new solution.

During Morgan County REA’s research, they discovered an innovative approach being implemented by Paducah Power Systems in Kentucky, using the functionality of the Landis+Gyr RF network and an AXe-SD (Service Disconnect) meter to remotely monitor and control their capacitor banks. Paducah Power Systems reported that they have been able to reduce costs while gathering information on the health and status of their capacitor banks utilizing their multi-purpose RF mesh network. 

Morgan County REA built on that success and continued to expand. Working side-by-side with Landis+Gyr, they were able to leverage the capabilities of their network and put intelligence at the edge of the grid to automate their entire capacitor bank control process. Now, Morgan County REA can bring a variety of measurements into the office using the FOCUS AXR-SD 1S meter.

For each feeder, they have code in a primary meter that can be programmed with variable thresholds that notify it which capacitor banks to open and close to keep their power factor as close to zero as possible. This solution not only met their requirement, but also allowed them to define their requirement with the added flexibility to be re-defined as needed.

Morgan County REA’s innovative approach has also provided considerable savings over initial projections. According to Raymond Mann, SCADA / AMI Lead at Morgan County, “We budgeted almost a half a million dollars for it, and we didn’t even come close to that.” Their first feeder has been operational for over three months and Raymond reports that, “It’s working perfectly—it opens and closes those cap banks very effectively. It does exactly what it is supposed to do.”

If you are interested in learning more about the value utilities like Paducah Power Systems and Morgan County REA are finding by leveraging RF mesh for Distribution Automation, you can reach out to me directly at steve.kenny@landisgyr.com.


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