Innovative companies have a competitive edge. We encourage employees to imagine, explore and to be entrepreneurial, all of which leads to innovation. When presented with a challenge, our employees collaborate to identify solutions. Here are some examples of technology innovation in 2014 that are having significant positive impacts for AEP and our industry:
- Our Donald C. Cook Nuclear Power Plant earned a “Top Industry Practice” award from the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) for an innovative approach to replacing damaged bolts inside the reactor vessel. With no existing tools for this first-of-its-kind problem, the Cook team used remotely operated robotic tools mounted on a temporary frame that were lowered inside the reactor. Using a full-sized mock-up of an actual reactor vessel, the team was able to practice and refine the repair process before attempting to do it. During the training, they also evaluated the repair process for radiological safety. The team replaced 28 bolts in 17 days.
- AEP Transmission used cutting edge technology with the design of a new and compact extra-high voltage 345-kV line, called BOLD™ (Breakthrough Overhead Line Design). Our employees developed a new, high-capacity 345-kV line design to move power over long distances. The new design provides more capacity, improves the use of ROW land and is more streamlined in appearance. The new line design is being built for the first time in the rebuilding and expansion of an existing 138-kV line near Fort Wayne, Indiana. BOLD™ has received seven patents to date in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
- AEP Transmission and IT employees developed a novel smart phone application that improves safety and efficiency for crews entering and exiting transmission and distribution substations. The mobile app was deployed in February 2014, allowing technicians working in the field to check in and out of locations without having to call the transmission and Distribution Dispatch Center every time. It also reduces interruptions for dispatchers during switching processes, providing safety enhancements and cost savings.
- AEP Transmission deployed a mobile capacitor in 2014 when installing a net meter. The capacitor enabled workers to install a net meter that will measure both the electricity used by a large industrial customer and the power produced by co-generation at the facility for the transmission grid. Without this solution we would have had to schedule a brief outage, which would have created reliability challenges in the PJM Interconnection region.
- Our employees designed a new customer outage alerts system to provide customers with critical information during power outages. Launched in March 2015, the service is available to more than 5 million AEP customers in 11 states. Initially, customers will be able to sign up to receive alerts via text message or email about outage and restoration activities. We plan to add billing and other information services at a later date.
- The connectivity of the electric grid will be vital to the utility of the future. In 2015, AEP received the first-ever “EPRI Interoperability Leadership Award,” recognizing industry leadership in the development and adoption of technologies that help achieve the goal of grid interoperability. AEP’s work led to a larger collaborative effort to use a common information model that allows data exchanges between systems, while helping to reduce errors and manual maintenance efforts. This is a critical step in building the information infrastructure that will be required for the integrated grid of the future.