Bandera Electric Cooperative in Texas says it completed its first distribution circuit automation project to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs.
The cooperative says the project is the starting point for the development of a smart grid that will provide real-time adjustment to changing loads, generation, and system operating conditions, while integrating renewable energy resources.
The automation is enabled by a fiber optic network installed in Bandera in 2016. The fiber was installed to improve and support the electrical grid, but has a secondary purpose of providing high-speed internet access to members. For the first time, many members in the cooperative's rural service territory have access to high-speed internet.
The cooperative says that distribution systems are becoming more complex, and with the addition of numerous distributed generators, the energy supply can be intermittent and challenging to manage. Utilizing BEC's. Using its fiber optic network for automation allows for a standardized approach to provide for the reliability, efficiency, safety ,and cost effectiveness of the power system as well as enhancing grid security.
Distribution system automation also allows system managers to better quantify the value of solar during peak conditions. The smart grid automation will eventually lead to predictive strategies so that problems can be managed before failure occurs.
The project involved integrating a range of electric equipment, apparatus, and residential solar resources, along with real-time communications for the operation of the electric system.
Bandera Electric Cooperative serves more than 25,000 members and provides electric service to more than 34,000 meters in a seven-county territory in the Texas Hill Country.