Maintaining a reliable transmission system
Today’s society is highly dependent on electricity for virtually every aspect of our personal, social and economic lives. At the same time, events like the Northeast blackout of 2003 and more recent high-impact weather events show that our society is vulnerable to great disruption from the loss of electric power. These events have brought about an increased and coordinated focus on electric reliability at both the high-voltage transmission level and the local distribution level. The focus on high-voltage reliability shows in every aspect of VELCO’s work today.
What is electric reliability
Electric reliability can be defined as the ability of the power system to meet customer demand for electricity on the grid anywhere, anytime, and at the required level of quality. To meet this need requires excellence in three areas of our work:
VELCO continually assesses and makes necessary investments in all aspects of our system maintenance. Currently, we are engaged in an aggressive program to inspect and replace as necessary aging infrastructure in our current transmission system. In recent years, NERC has established stringent standards regarding vegetation management following significant outages related to tree contacts with lines in other parts of the country. VELCO has been recognized as the second utility in the US to receive certification from the Right-of-Way Stewards Council for meeting NERC standards using best environmental practices.
VELCO is one of multiple local control centers on the interconnected New England transmission grid operated by ISO-New England. Our operators are certified through NERC’s System Operator Certification Program, which promotes reliability of the North American bulk power system by ensuring that operators have demonstrated the essential knowledge and skills for the job. VELCO actively participates with ISO-New England and regional and national standard-setting bodies in continual efforts to strengthen grid operations. Our compliance program has produced an excellent record of results on the many auditing processes by NERC, NPCC, and peer groups that help ensure the reliability of region’s power grid.
VELCO transmission planners continually evaluate the operation of the electric transmission network and analyze how factors, such as Vermont and regional demand, proposed new generation and growth, will affect system reliability and operation. The planning process is continuous and is guided by both the state and regional requirements and coordination. VELCO collaborates with the ISO-New England in its responsibility to plan the transmission system for New England. VELCO conducts the Vermont analysis that informs the ISO-NE’s annual report on transmission system needs, the Regional System Plan (RSP). Both VELCO and ISO-NE must plan and design the transmission system to meet mandatory regional and national standards established by NERC, NPCC and ISO-NE. At the state level, VELCO publishes updates every three years to its 20-year Long-Range Transmission Plan, which identifies upgrades need to meet design and reliability criteria. The Plan is a foundation for collaboration within the Vermont System Planning Committee among Vermont utilities and other stakeholders to fully consider all alternatives to transmission solutions.