Looking Ahead to 2024: Building a More Resilient & Responsive System

Looking Ahead to 2024 - January 2024 CCL CEO Article

By Ruth Marks, MVEA CEO

Ruth Marks, MVEA CEO

Building a More Resilient & Responsive System

The system that delivers your electricity is often described as the most complex machine in the world, and it’s known as the electric grid. At its core, the electric grid is a network of power lines, transformers, substations, and other infrastructure that span the entire country.

Mountain View Electric Association started building our piece of the grid in 1941. Mile-by-mile it has grown over the years. We are currently responsible for maintaining over 6,400 miles of the grid and the electric distribution system to support it. While a lot has changed since our early years, MVEA has remained dedicated to continuous system improvements and maintenance to provide safe, reliable, and affordable electricity to our members.

In fact, MVEA is not only one of the fastest growing electric co-ops in Colorado, we are also one of the most reliable utility providers in the nation. MVEA ranks in the top 25% of surveyed utility providers across the country who report their System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI). SAIDI shows how long an average customer goes without power during a year. In 2022, the U.S. average was 232.16 minutes. MVEA’s average was just 61.83 minutes.

While this score is a big point of pride, we know that by deploying state-of-the art technologies we can raise the bar even higher. This month, I am excited to share some of the innovative infrastructure upgrades and process improvement projects that are in the works at MVEA to build a more resilient and responsive electric distribution system.

Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS): In 2024, MVEA will start transitioning to a software platform that supports automated outage detection and restoration, load management, system mapping, meter management, and much more. In short, this system will allow MVEA to work more efficiently to build and manage a more responsive distribution system. For instance, rather than sending crews out to locate the cause of an outage after it is reported by a member, the ADMS suite of programs will allow us to identify and locate an outage in real-time. Or, if we need to disconnect or reroute power to a specific area due to an accident or wildfire risk, we can do that safely through software—rather than sending in MVEA crews to manually complete the process.

Wildfire Mitigation Plan: Wildfire mitigation is a common topic of conversation in our state. Having experienced the devastation of the Black Forest Fire first-hand, MVEA is taking proactive steps to upgrade our system in order to reduce the wildfire risk in our service area. A few of the efforts specific to MVEA’s wildfire mitigation plan include expanded vegetation management to ensure our infrastructure is clear of trees and shrubs, and infrastructure replacements, routine inspections, and maintenance of the electric system to help ensure safe and reliable electric service.

 Fiber Broadband Expansion: We live in an era of advancements in technology that make our mission of providing members with safe, reliable, affordable, and responsible electricity more attainable than ever before — but we need a reliable network to make that happen. While MVEA’s fiber broadband network will provide high-speed internet access to all MVEA members, it also plays an important role in implementing the ADMS software and the deployment of wildfire mitigation technologies. Building and owning our own fiber network will allow us to extend the benefits of these technologies across our entire service territory.

At MVEA, we are continuously building new infrastructure to serve new members and performing system-wide infrastructure capacity upgrades and expansions to meet the growing demand for electricity. To offset the cost of some of these system improvements, we have made it a priority to tap into expanded federal funding opportunities. I am proud to share that MVEA has been awarded two grants in the last year to support our broadband expansion and wildfire mitigation efforts. Look for updates on these projects, and more, in future issues of the magazine and on www.mvea.coop.