Case Study

US Electric Utility Industry Scan



This study investigates typical preventative maintenance practices for the distribution system by utilities in the  United States of America, covering the conterminous states divided into seven operating regions.

In the electric utility industry, the distribution system connects customers and distributed energy resources to the transmission network via substations. Well-designed and executed maintenance programs are important for effective asset management.  Maintenance programs contribute to the safe operation of the distribution system over the equipment’s service life and typically involve visual inspections, testing, and asset repairs.  Preventative maintenance is defined as planned assessment and life extension activities over the asset’s service life, while reactive maintenance pertains to unplanned activities.

Distribution system maintenance practices are differentiated between overhead line patrols and underground system maintenance. For the overhead system,  certain asset classes such as line reclosers and wood poles often have individualized maintenance programs. Utilities often specify  pad-mounted, vault, and manhole equipment on the underground system in the same manner. 

While regional variation of maintenance practices is expected, the amount of deviation among utilities within the same operating region suggests that there are significant inefficiencies in the industry, which knowledge sharing could address. Based on the founding, METSCO discussed three key improvement opportunities for the industry in this report.

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