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Most people give little thought to a transformer at a nearby substation. But during a week of temperatures over 100 degrees, that device could determine if their air conditioning and lights stay on. Our engineers pay a lot of attention to hundreds of transformers, as well as the transmission lines and other components of the power grid. Throughout the year, our planners anticipate possible load conditions, identify needed improvements and develop emergency and backup plans. They do this so that on that hot summer day, when electric demand runs close to the system’s capacity, there is less of a chance that an unplanned outage could overload the system. It’s what electric utility planners are thinking about so customers don’t have to.
Sufficient capacity of the electric system is the common aim of all our planning, construction and maintenance activities. The goal is to have sufficient capacity to keep electricity flowing through each region of the state, even if a substation or power line were to go out of service during peak demand. We forecast electric use and study the system under periods of maximum demand. We define transmission lines as either load-serving, meaning they support an EMC’s local needs, or bulk, meaning they support the efficient movement of large quantities of power around the state and region.
EMCs identify needs in their territories, such as new residential developments, that may necessitate system upgrades. Our engineers work with EMCs to study the electric system and determine if upgrades to existing facilities or new facilities are needed to improve reliability or serve new customers. This type of planning covers five- to ten-year horizons.
Using models that simulate elements of the transmission system, including generators, transformers, transmission lines, and forecasted load, we work with other utilities to plan the transmission infrastructure needed to meet future demand. Bulk transmission is the name for extra-high voltage lines, mostly 500-kilovolt and 230-kilovolt lines, which form the backbone of the state’s power grid, carrying power from generators within and outside of Georgia to our load service areas. The system is planned to perform well even with the loss of major equipment during periods of high demand. Bulk planning is performed on a 15-year horizon.
Since the integrated network of transmission lines throughout the state operates as one system, without regard to ownership, Georgia Transmission works with Georgia Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities to plan and operate the system through the Integrated Transmission System (ITS). The ITS, executed through two-party agreements, covers the participating utilities’ 17,500 miles of Georgia’s 18,500 miles of lines. This cooperation prevents costly duplication of facilities and keeps the state’s electric grid efficient and cost-effective.