The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) conducts research on utilities that brings value to the utility industry. “We figure out how to get more out of what we have,” explained Don Kintner, Director of Power Delivery Communications for the company. “Our most important asset is electricity.”
That is why the stimulus award of $624K that EPRI received is so important: It is funding a research project at EPRI’s Lenox facility exploring ways to enable more power in existing transmission lines, rather than require the building of new transmission lines.
“It’s hard to build new lines,” said Bernie Clairmont, Senior Project Manager for EPRI. “Acquiring land can take years. There’s a need to find a way to push more power through transmission lines.”
EPRI’s Lenox facility supports the power delivery sector. General electric built the facility in the mid-1950s and EPRI took the 34-acre facility over in 1985. The company also users the facility for training exercises. As Kintner noted, as the population continues to grow the issue of power use becomes increasingly important. “As the population grows, this research becomes incredibly important to serve more people,” he said.
One of the ways that EPRI has discovered that it can enable more power to be driven through transmission lines is by developing a more sophisticated way of calculating the temperature of a line, so the utility can predict more effectively the power capacity of the line. “There is more power capacity in the lines than the utilities realize,” said Clairmont. “Our product tells them how much more power they could push through and manage their system more efficiently.”
As Clairmont noted, EPRI”s device is being deployed at three sites in Upstate New York to see how they function. “We are giving utilities a better understanding of what the transmission lines are capable of,” he said.