Managing a More Dynamic Grid

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Navigate the energy transition with the right feeder protection


Frequent and severe weather is causing more outages, especially in areas susceptible to strong storms, such as coastlines. Loads are growing as more consumers rely on electricity for electric vehicles (EVs), digital technology, and electric heating or cooling systems. Distributed energy resources (DERs) are decentralizing generation and creating two-way power flow.

These changes are making the grid more dynamic. And as the backbone of the grid, feeders see most of this activity. It makes these circuits the most complex, which can be challenging for utilities to manage.

As leaders in the energy transition, utilities are looking for ways to advance the grid so it can handle these changes.

Four Ways to Advance Feeders

Despite how complex the grid may become, there are several straightforward ways to manage increased activity on the distribution system. These four strategies can help advance feeders today to meet the reliability and resilience needs of tomorrow:

  • Leverage low-stress fault-testing: Avoid unnecessary outages by mitigating temporary outages, which can knock sensitive technology offline. PulseClosing® Technology gently tests lines to prevent costly cable and asset damage from conventional reclosers’ high-energy fault-testing. This brings universal protection to any circuit, even underground lines.
  • Increase segmentation: Reduce the number of customers in each segment and isolate faults to smaller sections to improve reliability and customer satisfaction.
  • Loop circuits: Create redundancy by tying circuits together and connecting alternate power sources. Automatically reroute power when a permanent fault occurs to reduce the scope of outages to the smallest area possible.
  • Protect underground lines: Mitigate unnecessary outages from faults caused by environmental or weather conditions to improve resilience. Burying lines also avoids issues on blue-sky days to improve reliability.

One Device for Any Strategy

Conventional reclosers don’t have the advanced capabilities to handle a more complex grid. In fact, reclosers make managing complex feeders even more complicated. Their high-stress fault-testing, less-accurate sensing, and coordination limitations make it difficult to deploy these strategies effectively. This can result in more outages or damage to the power system.

An advanced feeder-protection solution, such as S&C’s IntelliRupter® PulseCloser® Fault Interrupter, can be applied in many ways. This helps utilities manage complex circuits and meet their reliability and resilience goals.

Enabled by PulseClosing Technology, IntelliRupter® fault interrupters use 95% less energy than conventional reclosers to test for faults. This low-stress fault-testing method brings universal protection to any circuit, whether it is entirely underground or a mix of overhead and underground lines.

IntelliRupter fault interrupters also overcome the coordination limitations of reclosers, so as many protection devices as needed can be added to a feeder. Using its simultaneous bi-directional sensing capability, the device can detect and isolate faults from any direction and reroute power to customers on unaffected lines.

Prepare Feeders for the Future

Make sure feeders are prepared to handle increased activity in the distribution system. Using modern technology allows for widespread and progressive changes to improve reliability and resilience. Choosing solutions that can be applied in many ways results in a valuable investment that evolves with future customer needs in the energy transition.


Chris McCarthy

Publication Date

October 31, 2023