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The ACES of Reliability

When you think about electricity, you typically don’t think about the internet impacting whether your power stays on. They are two different services run on two different kinds of cable. But what if I told you OEC Fiber was making the electric grid more reliable? The ACES Project does just that.

ACES stands for Adaptively Controlled Electric System. This innovative program allows Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, OEC, to stop outages before they start. With the help of OEC Fiber, a group of devices called reclosers can stay in constant communication and reroute power to create a “self-healing grid.”

An outage is caused when the flow of electricity to your home is disrupted. Electricity flows along an intricate network of high-voltage transmission lines, distribution substations, main distribution lines (feeders) and tap lines to bring power to your home. A break at any point in this chain will cause everything downstream to lose power. With ACES, the power can take another path to your home.

The circular symbol in the above diagram represents a substation, the first link in the OEC electric chain. The dark blue boxes are feeders, and the little hinges marked N.O. are the switches used by the ACES project to redirect power. The system recognizes a disruption in the electrical flow and readies to respond.

Let’s say there is a loss of power to the substation labeled Noble 4. Everything connected to that through a direct line would lose power. This includes everything up to the two open switches after the line splits into two segments. That whole section would be without power. ACES recognizes this and uses the OEC Fiber connection to close and open the appropriate switches, redirecting power to most of the affected areas.

Will ACES stop every outage from happening? No. There will always be sections of line that need to be repaired before power can be restored. In the example we just used, it would be the section before the line splits in two directions. ACES allows power to be restored for unaffected members connected to that same source, whereas in the past, those members waited for linemen to arrive onsite and make the necessary repairs before restoring power.

This revolutionary program is made possible thanks to the connectivity and reliability of OEC Fiber. The success of this project depends on the switch’s ability to effectively communicate with one another. Fiber optic cables allow for light-speed communication where there was previously little to no connectivity.

Nearly everything we do requires electricity. It cools our homes and helps us keep an eye on the local weather. (Something especially important this time of year.) Cutting down on outages by even a fraction of a percent means everyone’s lives can be better.

OEC’s forward-thinking board of trustees knew these system improvements were possible when OEC Fiber was created in 2017. While providing an essential service to underserved areas is a necessity, improving our electric system’s capabilities and reliability was and continues to be a top priority. OEC Fiber gives us the ability to continue our mission to improve our members’ quality of life through the safe delivery of highly reliable, reasonably priced electric service, innovative energy programs and exceptional member service.

OEC Fiber is more than just fast internet. It’s making the unthinkable possible.

To hear more from the team involved in the project, read the story in this month’s Co-op News.

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