SmartGrid Electricity Delivery System
The United States electric grid is a network of transmission and distribution lines, substations, transformers, and devices that deliver alternating current electricity from power generation sources (coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, solar, biomass, and natural gas generation plants) to homes and businesses. Development of the infrastructure and power grid was one of the great electrical engineering achievements of the 20th century. However, increasing power demands and increasing system complexity require major improvements to meet the requirements of the 21st century. Electrical power consumption in the United States has increased from 330M kWh in 1950 to over 4100M kWh in 2014.
Many utilities have started projects to modernize their electrical infrastructure and develop a suite of SmartGrid applications and hardware updates.
The SmartGrid is an electricity delivery system enhanced with digital technologies that monitors system health and detects problems on the electric system and notifies utility operators to ensure that customers experience fewer and shorter power outages. SmartGrid technology also enables utilities to monitor equipment proactively and fix emerging problems before those devices experience outages that affect customers.
Olenick & Associates consultants have been assisting large utility companies with SmartGrid initiatives since 2011 primarily in the implementation of SmartGrid enabled Intelligent Substations and the creation of analytics applications based on the enhanced data available as new intelligent devices are introduced throughout the system.
Intelligent Substations include:
- An “Intelligent Substation Dashboard” that provides information on the overall health of the substation components and communicates directly to the utility when devices are experiencing problems.
- Digital technology that makes it easier for the utility to identify fault locations so that crews can be sent more quickly and directly to problem areas.
- Technology that will help both customers and the utility maximize the value of SmartMeters. SmartGrid enabled substations receive voltage data from the meters, which enables a utility to better monitor, manage and respond to system issues. This connectivity also allows employees to view high level, weather or season related historical trends for energy use and system performance, which will help the company plan for and manage during periods of extreme temperatures.
Analytics developed by the SmartGrid IT Team (including Olenick consultants) provide monitoring and notification of transformer power paralleling problems, transmission oil leaks and unusual results from bushing potential devices used to monitor substation transformers.
By Jerry Lenza, Lead Senior Consultant – Olenick & Associates – Chicago