Switch and Recloser SCADA Testing for Distribution Automation

SCADA Testing

Distribution Automation (DA) plays an important role among smart grid technologies, and its reliability, flexibility, and agility rely on automated intelligent feeder switch and reclosers.

Utilities are constantly on the lookout for more reliable and efficient electricity distribution while reducing the operational costs through the implementation of distribution automation (DA) technologies.


Distribution automation refers to an intelligent electricity distribution system to create a smart grid with greater reliability, redundancy, and agility. DA systems utilize two-way high-speed communication (wireless or wired), sensing and monitoring devices, and control technologies for enhanced real-time situational awareness and grid stabilization. Communication-based automated distribution schemes enable utilities to monitor and coordinate the distribution assets and operate with minimal manual intervention.


One of the methods used to improve the distribution automation capabilities to reduce feeder outages is by using automated feeder switch and reclosers. These intelligent devices equipped with peer-to-peer communication can locate, isolate, reconfigure, and restore power to non-faulted sections with high speeds. Prior to being commissioned into service, each DA recloser needs to be thoroughly tested both in Supervisory Control and the Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, and on distribution feeder to verify the functionality. The testing process is critical for the proper operation of DA devices and the system and can also be very complex.


Olenick has a decade of experience in 12 kV and 34 kV DA switch and recloser testing and commissioning in the SCADA environment for our Utilities partners. Olenick has successfully tested and commissioned more than 10,000 DA switches and reclosers on SCADA relational databases and over various wide area networks (WANs), including UtiliNet and ITRON mesh wireless networks, and wired networks using fiber-optic cables.


On a mesh network, radios at each recloser work together to create a mesh and each radio is a participant in the network as radios can speak to and respond to neighboring radios in the same network, while maintaining bandwidth and latency requirements. Each radio (or the DA switch and recloser itself) can be conceptualized as a Remote Telemetry Unit (RTU) for SCADA telemetry processing. This poses a significant concern for a complex DA scheme with thousands of intelligent devices due to RTU limitations of any SCADA system. One way to overcome this problem is to concentrate telemetry to a master system, known as Virtual RTU (V-RTUs). Messages from the master system can be issued to control connected DA device objects known as slaves, in a master-slave communication setting. An Outage Management System (OMS) can also receive DA switch and recloser data over Inter-Control Center Communications Protocol links (ICCP).


Olenick has been continuously applying its expertise in automated feeder switches and reclosers, communication networks, grid analytics, models, and data processing tools to distribution automation and smart grid technologies, and helping our Utility partners with analysis, improvement, and operation of their smart grid and automation.

Contact us to learn more.


Contributing Editor: Eric Byville

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