In 2013, Gulf Power Company’s customers enjoyed fewer power outages than any other time in recent history. In fact, investments in the power grid have made a significant difference, improving reliability for the utility’s 436,000 customers by more than 35 percent since 2010.
“These are some of the best reliability numbers we’ve seen in 10 years,” said Jeff Rogers, Corporate Communications manager. “The investments we’ve made have helped us keep the lights on for our customers 99.98 percent of the time.”
Since 2010, Gulf Power has installed more than 500 smart devices called reclosers that help reduce the number of customers who would experience a power outage. A recloser is essentially a smart circuit breaker that can automatically reset once it senses there is no longer a fault on the grid.
For example, last year in Milton, a car veered off the road, slamming into a power pole. Because the splintered pole would have to be replaced, about 3,000 Gulf Power customers were facing a 4-hour power outage. But thanks to a recloser, only 197 customers lost power.
Other factors are contributing to improved reliability as well.
Gulf Power is in the middle of the largest power grid construction project in company history. Transmission lines are being upgraded, and substations are being rebuilt or upgraded.
“Upgrading and improving our infrastructure is making our power grid stronger and more robust,” Rogers said. “These construction projects will help maintain high reliability today and into the future.”
Another program that helps improve reliability is Gulf Power’s vegetation management program. The annual program involves trimming trees near power lines, which helps keep branches from causing power outages. This is critically important heading into tropical storm season.
“Customers are experiencing a direct benefit from these investments — in improved reliability or, as we like to say, ‘keeping the lights on,’” Rogers said.