Vectren understands that you depend upon the electric service we provide, and we must provide it in a safe, reliable manner. Electric assets continue to age, and new and even more reliable and efficient technologies emerge. In order to preserve system reliability and become a next generation energy company, we must continue to make essential investments in our system. As a result, we recently announced a $500 million plan to do just that. Learn how you'll benefit from a smart energy future below.
The comprehensive plan is driven by our desire to:
Maintain and enhance system reliability
Upgrade our grid
Address aging infrastructure and install smarter technology
Enhance your customer experience
Integrate advanced metering systems to help control energy usage
in your town
Our 7-county electric service area will see considerable system upgrades and enhancements throughout the next seven years.
Our electric service area will see considerable system upgrades throughout the next seven years.
The grid modernization plan will have significant benefits for the economy according to a study conducted by Indiana University, including:
- resulting in an economic impact of nearly $650 million over the 7-year period,
- generating about $20 million in state and local government tax revenue effects through 2023; and
- at its peak will support approximately 1,000 jobs.
Here are a few of the improvements we are making across our electric service area:
- Rebuilding High-Voltage Transmission Line Systems
Half of the transmission lines across our territory have been in service for more than 35 years, and those lines are subject to natural decay, animal damage and normal "wear and tear." Our $55M plan over the 7-year period includes efforts to rebuild transmission lines to meet Vectren's current standard of construction, which will result in improved power quality and reliability, reduced risk of emergency repair or replacement and better reliability.
- Replacing Substation Transformers
Many of the 200 substation transformers in Vectren's system are well beyond their expected service life of 35 years. The loss of a substation transformer can result in the interruption of power to several thousand customers and restoration times can last for several hours. Proactive replacement of these aging transformers will help eliminate unplanned outages. This program, which costs nearly $69M over the 7-year period, will replace an average of 7 to 10 substation transformers per year.
- Underground Cable and Network Replacements
Vectren will replace underground bare cable with coated primary conductor and upgrade a number of underground networks to maintain reliability and safety. This effort will cost about $55M over the 7-year period.
- Rebuilding Electric Circuits
This $77M, 7-year program includes the replacement of obsolete and aged conductors with higher capacity and stronger aluminum cables, aging poles with poles based on current, more robust construction standards and other hardware as needed. Looping ties the circuits together with modern switches and improved grid resilience by providing alternate feeds for reenergizing customers during extended outages. This will ensure increased reliability and system integrity, reduced risk of poles breaking and falling in storms, reduced risk of wires breaking and falling during storms and faster restoration times.
- Installing Distribution Automation
Distribution Automation will enable remote operation of switches so they can be opened and closed remotely from Vectren's control room. Adding this technology will cost about $14M over the 7-year period, and will lead to faster outage restoration by quickly isolating outages to specific problems areas, improved preventative maintenance scheduling, enhanced safety and better data for system planning.
Bringing you universal solar.
Vectren also plans to construct two 2-megawatt (MW) universal solar projects; one on Highway 41 near North High School, which will also include 1 MW of battery storage, and the other site will be disclosed soon through a partnership with the City of Evansville. If approved, the solar projects will be operational by early 2018, with an additional 50 MW likely to be added by 2020.
- Why is Vectren making these investments now?
Portions of Vectren's electric grid are aging and in some instances, reaching the end of their useful life. By proactively addressing these critical areas before they become problematic, Vectren is able to continue providing you with the reliability you've come to expect. This plan was assembled using a formal risk modeling process and puts in motion a longer-term plan to replace and upgrade our electric infrastructure; the 7-year span includes periodic, modest rate adjustments to ensure rate increases are gradual and manageable.
Vectren's last electric base rate adjustment was filed in 2009. Since the approval of that rate adjustment, we have worked aggressively to hold rates flat, while other Indiana electric utilities have experienced a compound annual growth rate of as much as 6%.
- What types of improvements are being made?
Vectren's grid reliability plan consists of over 800 separate projects identified through a robust assessment of its transmission and distribution assets. This includes work like:
- Transmission Line Rebuilds: Proactive replacement of identified lines will reduce risks of emergency repair or replacement which could lead to unplanned losses of electric service
- Substation Transformer Replacements: Plans to replace substation transformers will reduce risk associated with unplanned outages that could impact thousands of customers at a time and will enhance the safety of customers served from these substations
- Underground Cable Replacements: Plans to replace aging underground electric cable with new industry grade primary lines will improve overall distribution grid power quality and reliability
- Underground Network Upgrades: Evansville's downtown underground electric network was installed in the late 1960's. Replacing key components of infrastructure underground will ensure all current and future customers of Evansville's downtown continue to be safely and reliably served
- Circuit Rebuilds & Conversions: The rebuilding and conversion of older electric circuits and connecting them to newer, higher performing circuits will improve electric system performance by providing shorter outage restoration times and in turn reduce operational costs
- Pole Inspections & Replacements: Vectren will treat or replace poles identified through their inspection program which reviews approximately 11,000 poles annually. This program improves the overall electric system performance and strengthens it against storm damage
Vectren is also proposing some programs to modernize its system through projects like:
- Optical Ground Wire: establishes real-time, two-way communications with line equipment and substations
- Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Upgrades (SCADA): improve circuit sectionalization which isolates outages to impact as few customers as possible, enables real-time equipment monitoring
- Distribution Automation: enables the system to self-heal and in turn reduce outage duration
- Advanced Metering Infrastructure: enables customers to access their energy data in summary or detailed daily/hourly formats
- Advanced Distribution Management System: improves accuracy with estimated restoration times and faster outage restoration as a result of the ability to quickly obtain outage information without waiting on a call from the customer to report
- How do you and our community benefit from this plan?
Vectren's customers and communities within its service territory will benefit in a wide variety of ways as a result of this grid modernization plan.
- resulting in an economic impact of nearly $650 million over the seven-year period,
- generating about $20 million in state and local government tax revenue effects through 2023,
- at its peak will support approximately 1,000 jobs; and
- This plan provides gradual and minimal bill impact over time as opposed to a single spike which is the case in traditional base rate case proceedings.
This plan will enable Vectren to continue delivering reliable electric service that customers have grown to expect:
- Continued electric system reliability and safety by updating and replacing aging energy grid infrastructure, including substations, utility poles, power lines and transformers.
- Shorter electric power outages driven by the ability to automatically detect the problem and restore power remotely or in situations where damage has occurred, the technology can isolate it and reroute power so fewer customers are affected while repairs are made.
- Faster electric outage identification from advanced meters that self-report outages which will allow Vectren to provide customers more information about power outages and estimated restoration times.
- Fewer estimated customer bills as new, advanced meters are remotely and daily read through smart technology. With this capability, estimated customer bills are virtually eliminated.
- Quicker service because the majority of customer requests to turn electric service on or off will be performed remotely in near real time.
- More information to improve customer control over their energy use through digital meters. Customers will be able to access their energy data to help them understand their use in summary or detailed daily/hourly formats. The information can help customers make wiser energy decisions.
- Will this impact customer bills?
One of the key focus areas of this plan is to make the necessary improvements while minimizing the immediate impact on customer bills. Vectren is spreading the work over a 7-year period to help eliminate sudden spikes in customer bills. For example, in 2018 residential bills will see a gradual increase between $1 and $2 per month.
- Who is providing oversight for these investments and projects?
The process for reviewing and approving Vectren's grid modernization plan includes both regulatory oversight from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) as well as customer-represented organizations like the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor and other external stakeholders. The IURC does have the authority to approve, modify or reject the plan as submitted.
- How do I get assistance with bills and manage energy costs?
Vectren customer service specialists can provide access to various assistance agencies, such as CAPE, township trustees and other charitable organizations that can help individuals with energy bills. Also, we can provide energy efficiency tips and information on our energy efficiency programs which can be helpful in reducing energy bills.
- Conserve energy: Find ways to conserve energy including rebates on high-efficiency appliances and a variety of energy tips by visiting vectren.com/saveenergy.
- Find assistance programs: Visit Vectren.com or contact a Vectren customer service specialist by phone at 1-800-227-1376 or chat online via Live Chat (Typically available from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST).