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BEC devices boost grid reliability

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Bandera Electric Cooperative recently began an initiative to deploy more than 20 end of line (EOL) voltage monitoring devices onto the electric grid to improve reliability and outage response time in the next six months.

EOL devices increase BEC’s ability to respond to fault conditions, assist with detecting irregularities, help balance energy loading on feeders, and improves power quality.

BEC Technology Applications Engineer Rohit Upadhya said, “It’s not widely known, but electric utilities generally don’t have sensors away from their substations, which makes it difficult to monitor voltages at the outer edges of the grid.”

The small EOL devices are installed on distribution poles and send voltage information via BEC’s fiber optic network. BEC’s energy analytics software, Apolloware, allows technicians to monitor the voltage levels in real-time. BEC currently has five EOL devices in place, and Upadhya said they have already seen the benefits in the field.

“An EOL device we installed helped identify an issue with low voltage during the February storm,” said Upadhya. “The real-time data allowed us to see voltage dropping below the minimum of 114 Volts and led us to realize that a voltage regulator on that line was not working correctly.”

With the growing popularity of solar systems, Upadhya said we could also begin to see voltages exceeding the maximum threshold, and EOL devices will help manage this as well. Additionally, some of the EOL devices will include a Wi-Fi hotspot for BEC crews to use in emergency situations.

“The Wi-Fi hotspots will help our linemen stay connected in certain areas of poor cellular reception, which will improve workflow and communication,” said Upadhya.