Fusesaver: Helping rural power providers keep the lights on

Published: Tue 25 Mar 2014
A blog entry by Smart Grid Watch

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In rural areas, smaller co-op utilities often rely on medium-voltage power lines. When outages occur on these networks, finding and fixing faults can be time-consuming, costly, and frustrating for both utilities and consumers. Fortunately, a new Siemens solution can help prevent most of these outages.

Up to 80% of all line faults are temporary disruptions caused by strong winds, tree branches, animals, and other common issues that pass quickly and do not represent significant network damage. However, medium-voltage lines typically are protected by simple, sensitive fuses. Even a momentary fault can blow a fuse, causing the recloser to remain open and cutting off downstream power.

If the utility lacks real-time distribution network data and analytics, such outages typically are discovered only when customers call. And then, it can take hours for field crews to track down the point of failure and repair the line -- which often means only replacing the fuse. This negatively impacts metrics important to regulators and utilities, such as customer satisfaction and reliability.

The Siemens Fusesaver circuit breaker prevents damage to fuses during temporary faults. It can clear faults in under six milliseconds (less than half a cycle), and then reclose to resume power delivery. In the case of permanent faults, Fusesaver restricts blown fuses to the affected phase, thus containing the impact of a fault.

Using Fusesaver in series with fuses on sub-lateral feeders allows utilities to isolate faults, clear them in 30 seconds or less, and reclose the circuit automatically afterward. This not only keeps power flowing to customers; it also protects distribution assets from multiple fault current strikes.

This plug-and-play product is quick and easy to install. It can help utilities increase reliability and network availability, while reducing operating costs and achieving a quick return on investment.

Read more at Smart Grid Watch!