Duke Energy prepares for power grid stress from high heat, hurricane season

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The heat is here — and so is hurricane season. Since storms and high heat can really stress the power grid, Duke Energy’s Distribution Control Center has some new technology to make the load a little lighter.

“Safety comes first, and no multitasking,” says Anthony Gibbs, teasingly referred to as the mayor of the Duke Distribution Control Center.

Like everyone else in this room, he works in front of a bank of computer screens, making calls, fielding calls.

“I’m basically monitoring the distribution system. The first thing we’re looking at is whenever the outages are coming in, we manage the outage,” he says.

By managing an outage, he can dispatch a crew to replace the wire, or he can talk a customer through a glitch at home. Roughly 95% of the time, he says the issue is resolved without having to send a truck out.

“So any outage that you experience, any time you report an outage through the outage map or through the app, it comes through this facility where crews are dispatched to do work across the state,” says Jeff Brooks, spokesman for Duke Energy.

He says when there is an outage, the people in this room can use what’s called self-healing technology.

“Think of it like the GPS in your car,” he says. When the GPS alerts you to an accident, it also finds a way around it.

“Smart-healing technology automatically identifies power outages and quickly reroutes power to other power lines to restore service faster to customers,” he says.

That technology comes in especially handy when severe weather strikes:

“That’s what we live for. The adrenaline starts kicking in, and you’re ready to get the power back on to as many people as you can,” says Gibbs.

But even on quieter days, the job demands focus because they’re doing everything in their power to keep the power on and the crews safe.