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Title: Chattanooga Electric Power Board Case Study Distribution Automation

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) awarded a grant to the Chattanooga, Tennessee, Electric Power Board (EPB) as part of the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program. The grant had the objective “to accelerate the transformation of the nation’s electric grid by deploying smart grid technologies.” This funding award enabled EPB to expedite the original smart grid implementation schedule from an estimated 10-12 years to 2.5 years. With this funding, EPB invested heavily in distribution automation technologies including installing over 1,200 automated circuit switches and sensors on 171 circuits. For utilities considering a commitment to distribution automation, there are underlying questions such as the following: “What is the value?” and “What are the costs?” This case study attempts to answer these questions. The primary benefit of distribution automation is increased reliability or reduced power outage duration and frequency. Power outages directly impact customer economics by interfering with business functions. In the past, this economic driver has been difficult to effectively evaluate. However, as this case study demonstrates, tools and analysis techniques are now available. In this case study, the impact on customer costs associated with power outages before and after the implementationmore » of distribution automation are compared. Two example evaluations are performed to demonstrate the benefits: 1) a savings baseline for customers under normal operations1 and 2) customer savings for a single severe weather event. Cost calculations for customer power outages are performed using the US Department of Energy (DOE) Interruption Cost Estimate (ICE) calculator2. This tool uses standard metrics associated with outages and the customers to calculate cost impact. The analysis shows that EPB customers have seen significant reliability improvements from the implementation of distribution automation. Under normal operations, the investment in distribution automation has enabled a 43.5% reduction in annual outage minutes since 2012. This has led to an estimated total savings of $26.8 million per year. Examining a single severe weather event3, the distribution automation was able to restore power to 40,579 (nearly 56%) customers within 1–2 seconds and reduce outage minutes by 29.0%. This saved customers an estimated $23.2 million over the course of the storm.« less
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  1. Chattanooga Electric Power Board (EPB), TN (United States)
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States