Minnesota Power deploys Smart Wires transmission system technology


Minnesota Power and Smart Wires announced their partnership to deploy an solution for optimizing the flow of power on the grid. Smart Wires is a provider of power flow control technology for transmission systems.

This first deployment of Smart Wires at Minnesota Power is intended to be completed by the end of 2016 and will use Smart Wires PowerLine Guardian technology. PowerLine Guardians are devices that are installed directly on existing power lines and essentially act as valves for electricity.

They can be implemented to relieve heavily loaded power transmission lines by pushing power onto other, underused lines in the grid. The devices can be controlled remotely by the grid operator or programmed to activate automatically, responding to real-time line conditions.

“With Smart Wires we are able to optimize the use of our existing infrastructure, enabling us to improve the overall utilization of our assets and to save our customers money by deferring the need for costly transmission upgrades. These innovative solutions fit seamlessly into our Energy Forward strategy to create a smarter, stronger, cleaner energy future while efficiently delivering the safe and reliable power our customers rely upon,” said Al Hodnik, Chairman, CEO and President of Allete.

The installation at Minnesota Power represents the first stage of what is potentially a multi-stage deployment. The modular nature of Smart Wires is advantageous, providing Minnesota Power valuable flexibility in a time of increasing uncertainty around future network needs. As the grid evolves, the Smart Wires solution can be easily scaled to accommodate changing conditions on the network. The technology is also easily re-deployable and can be moved from one location to another to address emerging issues elsewhere on the grid.

By deploying Smart Wires, Minnesota Power joins a group of leading utilities leveraging these solutions to solve a host of challenges. Smart Wires’ unique modular approach to grid infrastructure has several advantages over traditional power flow control solutions that typically require long-lead times, are highly complex, demand significant capital investment, and ultimately represent single points of failure.

Additionally, Smart Wires solutions are typically more cost effective than conventional system upgrades like reconductoring or building new lines. Utility crews can typically complete PowerLine Guardian installations in only a few days, dramatically reducing the amount of construction activities that can disturb the environment and customer communities.

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