AEP Sustainability - Grid Reliability

Grid Reliability & Resilience

Maintaining the approximately 260,000 miles in our transmission and distribution network comes with an array of challenges even as we upgrade our infrastructure to meet modern-day needs. These challenges include the age of our infrastructure, the threat of external interruptions, the transformation of our generation fleet, the difficulty of siting new facilities, new and future environmental regulations and the magnitude of investments needed.

As we modernize the grid, we are designing in practices, materials and standards for ensuring long-term reliability and security of the system. However, we can’t prevent all power outages, so our response to them, when they do occur, is critical for our customers and our reputation.

Severe weather, vegetation that comes in contact with our electric facilities and the collision of vehicles with power poles are major causes of power outages. In fact, distracted driving is fast becoming a leading cause of crashes with poles in parts of our service territory. The terrain in our service territory is also a factor. For example, in West Virginia and Kentucky, where it is mountainous and our facilities are difficult to reach, outages are more likely to be caused by vegetation and harder to restore because of the location of equipment.

In response, we are investing in infrastructure and using technology and data analytics to predict, prevent, and mitigate service disruptions and better communicate with our customers. We are installing new equipment and facilities that support and integrate renewable and distributed energy resources, and using analytics and other tools to monitor and predict events. These efforts make our system more resilient and agile by allowing us to be proactive with maintenance of the system. We are also providing better information to our customers about their energy usage, outages and other issues. Through these efforts, we can ensure our ability to provide our customers with the energy they need, when they need it.

Grid Reliability Modeling

In 2018, AEP Transmission hosted the Power System Modeling Conference, a two-day event sponsored by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the North American Transmission Forum (NATF) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). Experts from AEP joined about 150 others from around the industry to cover a wide range of topics related to modeling energy reliability and resilience, including energy storage systems, real-time grid assessments and the impacts of distributed energy resources on the power system.

This type of modeling uses real-world information, such as the physical characteristics of equipment deployed in the field, to help system planners and operators predict what could happen on the system during certain conditions and events. This modeling is particularly important due to the growth of distributed energy resources on our system, such as wind and solar, and the evolution of technologies such as energy storage.