Ga. Transmission Corporation

Electric grid gets $90 million in federal loans

by Walter C. Jones, Morris News Service

ATLANTA — Georgia’s electric grid got a $90 million shot in the arm this week when the federal government released loans to the Georgia Transmission Corporation.

Georgia has avoided the regional blackouts that have brought down electrical grids in other parts of the country, and industry experts consider operations here among the best in the country. The capability of the grid to maintain steady power flow is likely to become a policy issue leading up to next year’s legislative debate on separate bills related to private companies’ generation of solar power for sales to customers via the state’s grid.

The new, low-interest loan money goes to cover infrastructure improvements made last year, including 331 miles of new line, six new substations and $3 million specifically designated as “smart grid projects.”

“You get the money when the assets are up and running,” said Tom Parker, the corporation’s vice president for external affairs.

Government and industry have sought to install what’s being called smart-grid technology designed to automate processes that used to require lineman to operate manually. For instance, the corporation installed electronic switches and fault indicators so that technicians monitoring the lines in Tucker can reroute the flow of electricity around trouble spots in remote parts of the state without customers losing power.

“Our part of the smart grid is really focused on reliability and safety and keeping the lights on,” Parker said.

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