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Duke and TECO add more self-healing technology to prevent power outages

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Posted at 4:06 PM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 05:42:26-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla.  — It’s that time of year: summer storm season and hurricane season. Sometimes all it takes is a bad downpour to shut off your electricity. Yet, our local electric companies are making high-tech upgrades to reroute your power and keep your lights on.

On a sunny day, you’d probably never notice the self-healing grids. During a bad storm, the technology on the power poles could make a huge difference.

Both Duke Energy and TECO are adding self-healing technology that works a lot like your car’s GPS. If there’s a crash, the GPS reroutes you around the problem. Same goes for your power, so if a tree falls on a line, the system automatically re-routes electricity, keeping entire neighborhoods from going dark.

Last year, Duke Energy’s technology stopped 57,000 outages, saving over three million interruption minutes.

“It’s nice to know they are at least attempting to do something to keep us with our power because you don’t realize how important it is until you don’t have it,” said Bob Baylies who lives in St. Petersburg.

That’s a realization many of us came to during Hurricane Irma when 7 million people across Florida lost power.

The technology also keeps the power company from having to send linemen out to every repair which is important since they can’t send linemen out if the winds are stronger than 35 miles an hour.

Duke Energy leaders tell ABC Action News there are still going to be outages, but the main difference is that fewer people will lose power when a problem happens.

“A typical outage that may involve 2,000 customers will now only see 400 customers impacted thanks to self-healing technology,” explained Audrey Stasko, a spokesperson for Duke Energy.

TECO tells ABC Action News in areas where they’ve installed the technology, outages have been reduced between 60%-70%.

Both Duke and TECO plan to keep expanding their self-healing grids.

Currently, just over 50% of Duke Energy’s customers are being assisted by self-healing technology. Within the next 10 years, they hope to expand it to 80% of their customers.

“There’s no such thing as perfect power but self-healing technology can absolutely reduce the number of customers impacted by an outage. Often times it will restore your power in a little less than a minute,” Stasko added. In Pinellas County, Duke Energy has 45 self-healing teams, about 29% of the total that the company has for the entire state of Florida.