Recently, two substations were targeted with gunfire in central North Carolina, resulting in physical damage to the site and a blackout in the wider region. The electric system is integral to our daily lives, providing reliable and consistent power to get us through the day. Unfortunately, the electric system is not without risks such as this. Substations are exposed to elements like storms, fire, theft and vandalism. These are all threats to the system, but securing and protecting the grid is a top priority of Oklahoma Electric Cooperative and other companies in the electric sector.
Staying ahead of these challenges is a collaborative effort, and co-ops work alongside industry partners, peer organizations, government agencies and local officials to share information and strengthen our systems. Take, for example, the Franklin substation that caught fire from copper theft 10 years ago.
The incident caused months of reconstruction, but fortunately, the community regained power quickly due to temporary mobile stations provided by our wholesale power provider Western Farmers Electric Cooperative. This is just a small example of how electric cooperatives incorporate multiple layers of protection across our systems to monitor and secure critical infrastructure from natural and man-made threats.
We also protect critical substations with a combination of tools and tactics – including locks, physical barriers, security cameras and more.
For OEC, we reflect this value in our investments in system planning, including system hardening and strengthening reliability. In 2021, we began planning the Adaptively Controlled Electric System project, or ACES. The project includes 11 devices impacting four electric feeders and three substations in the Norman and Noble area. These devices help our system “self-heal” during outages. Since the project launched in October 2021, outages in this area have decreased by nearly 40%. To learn more about our system planning venture, visit link.okcoop.org/reliability.
We continuously monitor, evaluate and prepare for threats to the grid. Rest assured, we are prepared to respond and restore your power quickly in the case of external interference in our electric system.
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