Wake Forest, NC— Wake Electric is currently in the process of installing battery back-up systems (Uninterrupted Power Systems- UPS) for the 20 traffic signals in our service territory.

While the average annual outage time for any Wake Electric service location is only about two hours per year, even a short outage affecting a traffic signal at a busy intersection can cause serious problems. Some big cities like New York City and Los Angeles have installed units at key intersections, but most smaller cities have not, and this is a great opportunity for us to be on the forefront of a unique initiative that will improve public safety and service restoration in our area at minimal cost.

Did you know the Department of Transportation (DOT) has changed nearly all traffic signals to Light-Emitting Diode lighting technology? Each stoplight now has only 150 to 290 watts per intersection. Obviously, this smaller load is much easier to back up than conventional traffic signals, and our cost would be around $3,500 per installation with a mix of pole and pad mounted equipment to provide up to four hours of back-up power. Before the DOT changed the traffic lights over to LEDs, it would have taken a whole cabinet of batteries to power the back-up system. Now, because of the efficiency and low power draw of LED lights, it is a much more feasible project that
Wake Electric is ready for and excited to tackle.

In addition to the obvious public safety issues, inoperable traffic signals can cause traffic jams that make it difficult for Wake Electric’s service vehicles to move from place to place to restore electric service. Adding back-up systems on traffic lights will also help Wake Electric dispatch more efficiently and allow crews to focus on restoring critical community services first, such as hospitals, nursing homes, police, and fire, along with restoring power to the greatest number of customers in the shortest possible time, before addressing the traffic lights.

During a power outage, Wake Electric will be monitoring the traffic lights via advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technology. Each traffic light will have two AMI meters, one to notify the co-op that an outage has occurred and the second to confirm that the lights are being powered by the batteries. The second meter can also alert us to when the batteries are fully discharged and need attention. This helps Wake Electric figure out how quickly to send a crew and how soon the police need to be dispatched to monitor the traffic light area.

Wake Electric plans to complete this project by the end of November.

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