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PECO invests $4 million in smart distribution switches

PECO customers in the Philadelphia region could soon notice improvements to their electrical service. Or if things go as planned, they won’t notice at all. PECO announced yesterday that 50 “smart” switches, which help prevent wide outages and improve service, are being installed on its grid in Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties this year, […]

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smart-switch-250PECO customers in the Philadelphia region could soon notice improvements to their electrical service. Or if things go as planned, they won’t notice at all.
PECO announced yesterday that 50 “smart” switches, which help prevent wide outages and improve service, are being installed on its grid in Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties this year, according to a press release.
At $50,000 to $60,000 per device, PECO has invested $4 million into the project. Installation will begin as soon as this month in Media, North Wales and the Roxborough section of northwest Philadelphia.
These new “smart” switches break up a circuit and automatically isolate issues that could cause outages. They’re even wired to communicate problems back to operation headquarters. If a circuit fails, a customer is automatically re-routed to an adjacent circuit and PECO is notified on which circuit the problem has occurred.
“These are one part of a smart system that utilizes these switches to minimize the effects of outages on customers,” spokesman Ben Armstrong tells Technically Philly.
The smart switches are known in the industry as reclosers and sectionalizers, which essentially do the same thing but on different lines of voltage.
Thirteen-hundred distribution circuits in the Greater Philadelphia area have already been augmented with the smart technology and PECO says that the switches have prevented outages for more than a half-million customers.
Armstrong didn’t immediately know how many total distribution circuits are on the system to compare with the number of smart switches.
The switch upgrades are part of a $400 million capital investment program which will upgrade facilities, improve delivery and increase energy efficiency. Sections of Northeast Philadelphia and central Bucks County have already been upgraded with the smart system.

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