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MLGW unveils plan for 'self-healing smart grid' distribution system to help reduce power outage times

MLGW is partnering with an engineering firm which specializes in modernizing electrical grids. The project costs $132 million and will take five years to complete.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) is partnering with engineering, construction and architecture firm Burns & McDonnell in planning a five-year, $132 million distribution automation program. 

The work is designed to improve overall service reliability of the electric distribution grid and reduce power outage times for the utility’s 439,000 customers in Memphis and Shelby County. 

MLGW said the initiative will utilize fault location, isolation and service restoration (FLISR) capabilities — otherwise known as self-healing, smart grid technology — to help reduce the duration of power outages, reduce storm impacts, and restore service faster when outages happen. 

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“We are proud of the future-forward approach we’re taking with our self-healing, smart grid program in Memphis and Shelby County,” said Nick Newman, vice president of engineering and operations at MLGW. “One of the most critical components of this robust, modern electrical infrastructure system is the automated fault detection equipment, which will considerably improve overall service quality and reliability by being able to detect everything from minor surges to major outages.” 

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Through system intelligence, remote control devices and an advanced communications network, FLISR technology and advanced smart grid devices will allow MLGW to identify the location of a fault and then isolate the faulted area so that the impact and frequency of the power outage is minimized. 

MLGW said upgraded system will reduce outages in the area by 30%, and when outages do occur, customer minutes interrupted will be significantly lower. 

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