Electric utilities partner to improve disaster readiness

To help restore electric service to communities after catastrophic emergencies or significant natural events, 28 utilities — including PPL Electric Utilities — have now committed to participate in the RESTORE program, which establishes a proactive approach to providing critical equipment for utilities that need additional resources during disaster recovery. The program establishes a binding agreement between participating utilities, a news release said.

The national importance of a strategic transformer reserve has been highlighted by the Department of Energy’s Strategic Transformer Reserve Report to Congress earlier this year. Newly formed at the time of that DOE Report, the RESTORE program is now a fully functional collaborative effort that takes advantage of regional cooperation and is consistent with DOE’s recommendation supporting voluntary industry-based options to address the reserve.

RESTORE, or Regional Equipment Sharing for Transmission Outage Restoration, was founded in 2016 by Louisville Gas and Electric Co. and Kentucky Utilities Co., PPL Electric Utilities, Tennessee Valley Authority and Southern Co. to identify and share spare transformers and other transmission equipment, which will then be available for purchase by other participants in the event of a major disaster within their service area, the news release said.

“Utility cooperation and the ability to call on additional resources play a critical role during times of natural disasters and other emergencies that can impact our electric transmission system,” said John Lucas, chairman of RESTORE’s operating committee and Southern Co. general manager of transmission policy and services, according to the news release. “Launching the RESTORE program, coupled with existing industry programs and each utility’s internal resources, further strengthens total grid resiliency for the region and electricity customers.”

“In the event of a disaster or other major emergency, having established relationships with more than 20 neighboring utilities will strengthen our ability to respond, recover, and return to reliable service for our customers,” Dave Gladey, director of asset management for PPL Electric Utilities’ Transmission & Substations operations, said, according to the news release.

The program has now expanded to include 20 additional participating utilities: Ameren Missouri, Ameren Illinois, Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois, American Transmission Co. LLC, Associated Electric Cooperative Inc., six Duke Energy utilities, Duquesne Light Co., East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Entergy Corp., Florida Power and Light Co., ITC Midwest, ITC Transmission, METC, Santee Cooper, and South Carolina Electric & Gas Co.

RESTORE, the news release said, is designed to enhance the resilience and reliability of the power grid and provide additional sources for utilities seeking critical equipment during disaster recovery and does not replace existing programs or agreements already in place. The RESTORE agreement is now in place among all participating utilities, except a few that must first obtain state approval to execute the agreement.

PPL Electric Utilities provides electric delivery service to more than 1.4 million homes and businesses in Pennsylvania and ranks among the best utility companies in the country for customer service and reliability. PPL Electric Utilities is a major employer in the communities it serves. It is a subsidiary of PPL Corp.