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Ky. utilities given advanced approval for emergency equipment transfers

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Ky. utilities given advanced approval for emergency equipment transfers

Kentucky regulators on Feb. 22 approved a proposal from four electric utilities that will allow them to respond more quickly to power outages and other emergencies by giving them more flexibility to transfer equipment to each other.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission signed off on a request from Duke Energy Corp. subsidiary Duke Energy Kentucky Inc., East Kentucky Power Cooperative Inc. and PPL Corp. subsidiaries Kentucky Utilities Co. and Louisville Gas and Electric Co. to preapprove emergency transfers of large electric transmission system transformers with a value of more than $1 million. The commission, under state law, has to approve equipment sales or purchases of greater than $1 million.

In a news release, the commission said giving advanced approval will expedite the transfer of utility-owned transformers in connection with the Regional Equipment Sharing for Transmission Outage Restoration, or RESTORE, program.

Kentucky Utilities and LG&E, along with PPL Electric Utilities Corp., the Tennessee Valley Authority and Southern Co., initiated the program in 2016 with an aim to find and share extra transformers and other transmission equipment that will be purchased by other participant utilities if a disaster hits their service area. The effort now counts 28 utilities as participants.

The commission order said that in the application seeking preapproval, the utilities said the ability to quickly purchase a transformer pursuant to the RESTORE agreement would be a benefit because transformer purchases, in particular, are subject to long lead times. Giving approval ahead of time is a better route than leaving the utilities to market forces and potential delay during emergencies, the utilities said, according to the order.

In its order, the commission required the utilities to report within 30 days any transfers or acquisitions made under the RESTORE agreement.

The commission said its approval also extends to purchasing spare or replacement transformers if a participating utility in Kentucky provides equipment to another utility through the RESTORE program. (Kentucky PSC Case No. 2017-00410)