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TVA testing smart wire technology to improve grid reliability

From the February 7, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published February 7, 2013

A pilot demonstration of "smart wire" technology is under way on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s power transmission system, TVA said Feb. 5. Installed on a 161-kilovolt transmission line near Knoxville, Tenn., the system is designed to provide congestion relief by redistributing power flow onto underused lines.
Smart wire technology, manufactured by Smart Wire Grid, Inc., consists of an array of distributed series reactance (DSRs) units that attach to a transmission line and limit its electrical current flow. 

"Smart wire technology has the potential of mitigating the problem of overloaded transmission lines, and if the technology proves itself, the nation’s power grid will be more stable and reliable," said Stewart Ramsay, CEO of Smart Wire Grid, Inc. 

"This represents a milestone in moving the smart wire technology from concept through development and into utility operation," said Bruce Rogers, director of technology innovations for TVA. "We saw the critical need for this technology and became an early funder of the smart wire concept."

TVA said it has supported the technology development effort for several years, via the Georgia Tech/National Electric Energy Testing, Research & Application Center (NEETRAC) and the Smart Wire Focused Initiative (SWFI).

The 99 units will be monitored for a year by the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Program Agency - Electric (ARPA-E). Each unit weighs about 150 pounds and looks like a long rectangular box, TVA said.

"The technology offers our transmission grid planners and operators a new tool that helps address a wide range of issues facing TVA today," said Rob Manning, executive vice president and chief energy delivery officer for TVA.

"The number of challenges that transmission system owners must meet increases every year," he said. "We are asked to improve grid reliability, facilitate efficient electricity markets along with integrating renewables. We think smart wire technology will help us do this."

The DSR units were tested to electric utility standards for fault current, corona, lightning impulse and vibration at Georgia Tech/NEETRAC's high-voltage test facilities. 

TVA and other utilities provided support and funding for the development of the smart wire technology. TVA provided additional funding to support the pilot demonstration installation.


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