CEC Electrical Grid Continues to Amaze

Photo portrait of Dave Markham
As much as you hear the word “amazing” these days, I don’t find myself using it very much. It seems all too often the word is used to describe something that really is not that amazing after all. But I never hesitate to use the adjective when I talk about Central Electric’s electrical system and what it takes to keep it up and running.

The electrical grid has been called the greatest real-time delivery machine in human history. It continually balances electricity supply and demand in increments of milliseconds. It links power plants, transmission systems and distribution networks across thousands of miles to homes and businesses with an overall reliability record exceeding 99.999 percent. The electrical system grows even more sophisticated every day. Nowadays, consumers can monitor their electricity use by the hour, day, week or month, as is the case when CEC members use our SmartHub application. Or consumers can connect their own energy production system, usually solar panels, and in a small way actually become part of the grid. What also can amaze me is how much this engineering marvel is taken for granted when just a couple of generations ago it was seen as a life changing miracle.

The care and management of our transmission and distribution system is an around-the-clock responsibility for the employees of Central Electric. Our members frequently praise our lineman for restoring power outages in all kinds of weather, day and night. Few realize that this work is a relatively small share of our crews’ workload. Every day their “normal” work involves projects that expand the size of the system or secure its reliability. They make proactive improvements or replace poles or underground power lines nearing the end of their service life. All is backed up by our engineers’ invaluable behind-the-scenes work. Their designs make sure that the changes made by our crews synchronize with the rest of the system’s technologies and the physics of electric energy.

This dedication and expertise keeps up and running our system of 24 substations, 45,000 power poles, more than 3,700 miles of distribution line, and 185 miles of transmission line, all spread across 5,300 square-miles. This system operates around the clock delivering electricity to you, as much as you need whenever you need it. Some might say such a system is not amazing at all because it does its job, day after day, only being noticed during rare periods of failure. When such instances average less than one-thousandth of a percent of the time, I can’t help but think, “amazing.”

Dave Markham
President and CEO