Avangrid's $2.5B Northeast resiliency program puts emphasis on trees
- Avangrid on Wednesday unveiled a 10-year, $2.5 billion resiliency program targeting its Northeast utilities, outlining a "comprehensive" look at its grid, vulnerabilities and modernization solutions.
- The company's utilities in Maine, New York and Connecticut have suffered $450 million in storm damage in the last 16 months, officials said. The "Transforming Energy" plan would consider a range of solutions, from pole replacement to microgrids.
- The program will focus on the utilities New York State Electric and Gas, Rochester Gas and Electric and Central Maine Power. The plan includes an existing $500 million proposal in New York for a full rollout of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI).
Avangrid's resiliency program will consider a wide range of solutions, including grid edge resources like energy storage, microgrids and AMI. But the bulk of the utility's plan may not be so sexy.
Avangrid Networks CEO Bob Kump said that 80% of the company's outages are caused by trees — with more than half of those outside the utilities' right of way.
"As we develop our plan, a key focus will be on tree-related interruptions, which are the leading cause of outages," Kump said in a statement. "That's why we will look to improve our vegetation management protocols, working collaboratively with local municipalities, public works entities and individual customers to tackle potential problems both inside and outside of our right-of-way.”
The plan includes accelerated replacement of wooden poles; increased use of insulated spacer cable to minimize outages in the instance of tree contact; more aggressive tree trimming; and an analysis of areas where electrical infrastructure hardening would be cost-effective.
Solutions in those areas could include undergrounding, energy storage and microgrids. A full rollout of smart meters would give the utilities "greater visibility to identify issues during storms faster," the company also said.
The company cited the increasing "frequency and severity of storms," as the driver of its program.
Some of the work is already being planned; the company has proposed installing smart meters across its New York territory as part of the state's Reforming the Energy Vision proceeding.The company said AMI is already in place at Central Maine Power and United Illuminating in Connecticut.
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