ABB Power Services

Our aim is to increase systems reliability and extend the life of their equipment with concomitant gains for our customers’ competitiveness. We support our customers with high-quality services in preventive and corrective maintenance to improve risk mitigation and improved safety. ABB's service portfolio allows utilities and industrials to maximizing the return on all assets by ensuring a high reliability, reducing life cycle costs and ensuring optimized performance while lowering environmental impact.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Keep The Power Flowing: Improving High Voltage Resiliency Improves Fleet Reliability


What is the difference between reliability and resiliency?  Reliability is the ability of a system to “consistently perform” its intended or required function on demand for the required duration.  In other words, it is the average performance of a system over time.  Resiliency is the ability of a system to “withstand and then recover from” failures or events.  In other words, how does a system bounce back from a single or multiple disturbance(s).  The two are inter-related.

Why is now the time to pay attention to resiliency?  There are four reasons:

1. While the annual number of non-weather related outages has remained flat, the number of major outages due to weather has increased ten-fold since the 1980’s.  Major storms are increasing both in severity and frequency.  According to Deliotte Research, the average number of major weather outages in the 1990’s was 5 to 20 per year, and the average was 50 to 135 per year between 2008 and 2013.  More importantly, no one type of storm (fire, flood, tornado, hurricane, super storm) has a monopoly on the impact or cost.

2. FERC recently approved Order 802 submitted by NERC for CIP-014-1 which applies to Critical Infrastructure Protection of the power grid.  Under this ruling, utilities and transmission owners must categorize substations and develop a plan for protecting the most critical substations. 

A highlight of Order 802’s ruling includes the following aspects:
  • Requires owners and operators of Bulk-Power System to perform a risk assessment of their systems to identify critical facilities and critical assets
  • Evaluate potential threats to, and vulnerabilities of, those facilities
  • Develop and implement a security plan to protect against attacks on those facilities.
 
While it is not necessary to harden every substation or every asset, transmission owners and operators are required to use systems knowledge, review relevant portions of the grid, and determine critical assets.

3.  Regulators have taken note of this change in outages (frequency, duration, response), and have been given the authority to develop new laws and implement fines; and they are using that authority.  For example, there have been regulatory changes in NY, MA, and CA specific to outage management. In general, the new regulations revolve around safety and response / preparedness.  Transmission owners and operators need to have an outage plan in place and be able to respond quickly when there is an event.  Penalties are for missed performance and compliance.

4.  Reliability improvement is increasingly required as a component of new rate cases.  Failure to implement reliability improvements can result in rejection or rollback of a previously approved case.   To support this, a reliability report must be submitted by utilities May 1 every year with system wide SAIDI, SAIFI, and CAIDI.  All circuits are tracked to identify and target those which have below-average reliability.  The report must include corrective actions, or have an explanation if no action is taken for below-average circuits.

Fortunately several options are available to make substations and specific assets more resilient.  (This is also known as hardening of the grid.)  ABB is able to help utilities with many of these solutions.
  • Install opaque or bullet proof perimeter fencing, or build new equipment inside a building to keep out the bad actors.  Your first line of defense is to ensure they cannot see through or penetrate the wall outside your substation.
  • Install cameras that point both towards critical equipment and into the substation to monitor who is around the equipment and who is outside the substation.
  • Remotely monitor assets.  A universal system for monitoring assets will instantly alert you when equipment is down and provide service technicians with the key data needed to get it back online quickly.  In addition to optimizing service time, remote monitoring captures asset KPI data, which when used correctly increases asset availability and reliability.
  • Exchange porcelain bushings with composite bushings on high voltage breakers or dry-type bushings on power transformers.  In addition to safety features, composite bushings tend to leak gas slowly when punctured by flying debris allowing time to repair the breaker or transformer before it goes out of service.  Whereas porcelain bushings almost instantly take an asset out of service if hit by flying debris.
  • Review inventory and fleet requirements to ensure critical spare parts are on stock or are available quickly during an emergency.  Some critical parts may have a long lead time.  Reviewing these criteria with your OEM will ensure you have the necessary parts on hand for critical assets at critical facilities.
  • Raise high voltage breakers with leg extensions or build raised control houses and GIS bays in flood prone areas.  Elevate assets after reviewing historical flood levels and accommodating for phase spacing of surrounding equipment.
  • Perform a fleet assessment with an OEM representative including on-site visual inspections of assets and remediate resiliency issues discovered.  An on-site fleet or condition assessment accomplishes two goals at once.  Maintenance resources are prioritized and resiliency gaps are evaluated at the asset level where changes will be implemented.
  • Convert traditional wired communication devices to wireless communication devices.  Wireless communication accomplishes two goals.  Bad actors cannot “cut” wireless communication and it provides an excellent redundancy system (reliable, secure, adaptable) when hard-wired devices are damaged by an event.
  • Protect the location of the substation by replacing overhead high voltage lines with underground cables.  This is often done a few miles before a high voltage substation.  This helps disguise the physical location of the substation.  If someone is trying to disable the equipment, he/she can no longer follow the overhead lines to the substation.

There are numerous reasons for improve grid resiliency.  The greatest benefit is having fleet assets more resilient to natural or unexpected events.  The payoff is improved reliability, regulatory compliance, and happier customers.   Prepare for resiliency changes by planning and budgeting now; leverage your vendors for dynamic product and industry solutions; work across the organization to make improvements (avoid the silo mentality); and remember that NERC compliance is a minimum, as in all you do – aim high for best results.

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