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Worker Migration Could Strain Rural Power Reliability and Resilience

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Society is shifting to the post-COVID “new normal,” and many employees will be permanently working from home. This trend will prompt workers to move from cities to rural areas, taking with them the expectation of reliable power.

Shifting expectations
Rural residents are generally satisfied with power reliability and are accustomed to power outages, considering them normal. Rural communities have less redundancy and fewer network interconnections than cities, so they experience more outages.

As more families move from urban to rural areas for lifestyle reasons, their dissatisfaction with rural power reliability will become apparent because they will still need continuous power for digital devices and work-from-home communication.

Planning for the change
Rural utilities can address this reliability-expectations shift by monitoring their residential trends and planning system-improvement strategies accordingly.

Sophisticated reclosers automatically return power quickly when the cause of momentary faults clears, such as a tree branch on the line. Using automated reclosers speeds power resumption and avoids long-distance crew travel to replace fuses.

The long-term fix, which could take up to five years, involves major infrastructure upgrades to strengthen and harden the grid through more interconnection options. System upgrades also help rural utilities prepare for distributed generation and two-way power flow as more affluent customers consider solar and wind generation for their homes as a greener and sustainable alternative to generate power

Expert

Jason Lander

Publication Date

August 12, 2021