Western Power Distribution deploys distribution line sensors in the UK for grid modernization project


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Tollgrade Communications, a leader in providing network assurance solutions to utilities and telecommunications providers, announced that a 50-hertz version of its industry-leading LightHouse distribution line sensors has been successfully deployed at Western Power Distribution (WPD). WPD is one of six electricity Distribution Network Operators in the United Kingdom responsible for the Midlands, South Wales, and the South West, delivering electricity to more than 7.7 million customers over a 55,300 square kilometer service area. It is leading a number of innovative, low carbon projects as part of the Low Carbon Network Fund, introduced by UK energy regulator, the Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), to prepare for the electricity network of tomorrow - assisting the uptake of low carbon technologies, helping provide affordable and reliable solutions for energy users. With this deployment, the LightHouse platform is providing WPD with real-time visibility into its distribution grid, allowing the network operator to improve reliability and optimize network planning as it eases its transition to a low-carbon future. "Our distribution network is the backbone of how we deliver electricity to homes and businesses. Leveraging proven technologies such as LightHouse allows us to improve our real-time visibility of the distribution grid for the first time," said Ben Godfrey, Innovation and Low Carbon Networks Engineer at WPD. "We selected Tollgrade's LightHouse platform because it provides us with better information for network planning, which will help us improve grid reliability and enable the transition to a low-carbon future." Distribution Network Operators such as WPD are expecting changes in the way electricity flows around the network, as consumers adopt low-carbon technologies including electric vehicles and heat pumps. One initiative addressing this concern before it becomes reality is the Flexible Approaches to Low Carbon Optimised Networks (FALCON) project, a U.K. regulator-funded program that aims to improve the industry's understanding of infrastructure needs in a low-carbon environment. WPD is working with innovative smart grid leaders such as Tollgrade to find the best ways to manage network problems expected to arise from low-carbon technologies and generation. Tollgrade partnered with Powerline Technologies Limited, a leading U.K. supplier of smart grid equipment, to deliver the LightHouse platform to WPD as a part of Project FALCON. "Working with Western Power Distribution to advance its grid modernization efforts to accommodate a low-carbon future has been rewarding, and it's further validation of the strength of our platform," said Erik Christian, Vice President of Smart Grid at Tollgrade. "Whether it's providing real-time load monitoring to protect the life of high-value assets, or fault information to more quickly dispatch crews to restore a power outage, the Tollgrade LightHouse platform enables utilities to meet the key challenges of their distribution grid modernization efforts." Tollgrade leads the industry in providing inductively powered, low-current sensors that give utilities real-time visibility into the distribution grid down to three amps. They are lightweight, easy to install and provide immediate real-time data about grid conditions. Unlike first-generation fault indicators, LightHouse sensors are combined with predictive analytics software to provide the ideal combination of real-time load and power quality monitoring with outage and fault detection. Within the software, customizable rules alert utilities to inefficient operating conditions that indicate future outages, load imbalances, or technical loss. These events are linked to map-view displays that make it easy for utilities to pinpoint the locations of problems for quick response and resolution. The LightHouse platform easily integrates with Data Historians, SCADA, OMS, and DMS systems or can run as its own stand-alone solution hosted by Tollgrade or within a utility's own datacenter. Tollgrade