Grid Overhaul with Proactive, High-Speed Undergrounding for Reliability, Resilience, and Security
The Grid Overhaul with Proactive, High-Speed Undergrounding for Reliability, Resilience, and Security (GOPHURRS) program seeks to simplify the construction of underground medium voltage (MV, 5 – 46 kV) power distribution grids in urban and suburban areas by adopting a concurrent drilling and conduit installation method of construction that reduces the inefficiencies associated with today’s horizontal drilling and conduit installation operations. To achieve this, a shift in the standard of undergrounding from digging to drilling is needed in order to leave the surface nearly untouched. Projects will focus on advancing transformative autonomous utility installation technologies such as automated and rapid subsurface drilling along the terrain and concurrent conduit installation, while also avoiding hidden underground obstacles with advanced look-ahead sensors. Automated joint installation technologies that perform error-free splicing operations with high accuracy and repeatability will also be developed in order to eliminate human errors in the installation process. GOPHURRS projects could reduce costs, increase speed, and improve the safety of undergrounding operations and the surrounding communities by developing technologies focused on automation, damage prevention, and error elimination.
Over 90% of power line failures happen at the medium voltage distribution grid. The electric power distribution system in the U.S. has over 5.5 million line-miles and over 180 million power poles susceptible to damage by weather and tree-related incidents which account for 62% of all power outages in the country each year. The recent increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events has resulted in an escalation of weather-related power outages across the U.S. Undergrounding power lines is a proven way of improving the system reliability for both transmission and distribution grids as weather events are less likely to interfere with systems that are protected below ground. Despite the reliability, resilience, and security benefits, today’s methods of undergrounding power lines are disruptive to surface and environments, slow in construction, unsafe for workers, and consequently make an undergrounding project too expensive to afford.
If successful, the GOPHURRS program will improve the reliability, resilience, and security of power infrastructure in the U.S. by promoting proactive, high-speed, and cost-effective undergrounding through the adoption of transformative new undergrounding technologies and advanced underground obstacle sensors.
GOPHURRS technologies will improve the security of the current U.S. power infrastructure through the innovation of new undergrounding technologies and advanced underground obstacle sensors.
The development of GOPHURRS technologies will allow the U.S. to enable a clean energy transition toward decarbonization through upgrading and expanding the grid infrastructure to accommodate the adoption of renewable power generation, the increase in distributed energy resources (DERs), and the use of electric vehicles.
GOPHURRS technologies could reduce the cost of undergrounding electric power grids by at least 50%.