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The value of gaining expertise in substation asset management

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Monday, March 12, 2012

Until recent years, electric distribution networks have long operated on a simple, unidirectional flow. But as overall consumption of electricity rises and renewable generation is capturing a larger share of the grid, changes are making power networks far more multidirectional.

If substation asset managers hope to operate these unidirectional and multidirectional networks economically and efficiently, they will need to fully understand a more comprehensive approach to asset administration that involves new smart grid technologies for monitoring and automating the distribution network, according to Utility Products.

Threats from inclement weather and an aging electric infrastructure will likely be the two most pressing issues in the near future. To prepare, substation managers should consider the prevention methods and remedies for one of the most salient issues present on the grid: blackouts.

Managers familiar with remote terminal units (RTUs) have shown to be able to reduce the duration of power outages by almost 50 percent on average. The technology works by programming the RTU, in cooperation with fault finders, to inform the substation automation system of the short circuit current flow on the damaged segment, typically solving the problem in a matter of minutes.

Controllers who have been trained in using new smart grid technologies can also use intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) to record load curves for future planning, according to Utility Products. Keeping track of low and peak demand times on a daily or monthly basis can help predict overload situations. Correctly installing and using IEDs allows for integrated automatic transformer monitoring, and can prevent damage to transformers during overloads.

Asset managers' strategies are heavily based on the installation date of power distribution equipment as well as the vendor's specification. IEDs can help locate missing but valuable information regarding trips or overload situations. This information can help an overload situation be handled properly without the risk of damaging equipment.

Additional information provided by an IED can clearly indicate when maintenance is needed, allowing utilities to keep maintenance costs down while preventing outages.

Receiving training to achieve expertise in managing and administering substation assets has proven to increase productivity. Acquiring the knowledge and power to successfully implement an intelligent substation can help managers remove aspects of smart grid configurations that introduce errors and help simplify the complexity of systems.

SUBNET's training programs address such issues through hands-on learning that can ultimately improve efficiency within electric utilities. 

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