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Distribution systems are stressed by an aging infrastructure and increased demands for power. Electricity distribution companies are under pressure to improve reliability and system performance, while dealing with the ongoing challenges of this aging infrastructure, and increasing customer demands for higher reliability and power quality.

BPA acquires energy savings through the Energy Smart Utility Efficiency program, which includes Voltage Optimization and electrical distribution System Improvements. Voltage Optimization is a technique for improving the efficiency of the electrical grid by reducing voltage on the feeder lines running from substations to retail loads. System Improvements create greater efficiency of the electrical distribution system.

Efficiency-Improvement Measures & Requirements​
BPA offers several distribution-level efficiency-improvement measures through the Energy Smart Utility Efficiency program. The requirements of Voltage Optimization and System Improvements are discussed below:
  1. Voltage Optimization: BPA developed the Simplified Voltage Optimization Measurement & Verification Protocol to assist utilities with implementing Voltage Optimization projects. Utilities have the option to use a custom Measurement & Verification plan or the Simplified Protocol. The Simplified Protocol requires analytics from load-flow studies, and also:
    • Is based on Regional Technical Forum guidelines
    • Focuses on residential and small commercial end-use loads
    • Requires that specific system stability thresholds be met prior to lowering service voltage
  2. System Improvements may include the following measures:
    • Power transformer replacement
    • Service conductor replacement
    • Higher distribution primary voltage, including insulator additions and replacement
    • Transformer load management (replacement of improperly sized transformers or loss improvements)
    • Balancing loads and phases
    • Adding parallel feeders
    • Operation improvement (recognition and phase balancing)
    • Power factor improvement to reduce line losses
    • Volt-Amperes-Reactive (Reactive Power) Management
    • Fixed and switched capacitors
    • Service distribution transformer:
      • Replacing an existing or proposed transformer with a higher-efficiency transformer
      • Multiple transformers versus a single transformer, based on system analysis
      • Voltage management
Customers must submit Voltage Optimization and System Improvements as custom projects. They may combine System Improvements and Voltage Optimization into one custom project when it increases the amount of voltage that can be reduced, or improves the monitoring of reduced voltage.
​Additional Resources
​Contact Information
​For more information, please contact your Energy Efficiency Representative. You can also contact Tony Koch, mechanical engineer, at jakoch@bpa.gov.