America’s energy needs are increasing, and utilities are working hard to keep up with the pace. When new load or generator additions are being considered, a good computer model will indicate changes and impacts, so that accommodations can be made during the planning stages. An electrical system study is based on a computer model of the electrical system. We currently use Aspen software. All known system information is used to build the model, starting with generation sources then transmission lines, substations, transformers, individual distribution circuits and connected loads. From this model we can evaluate: fault current levels, system coordination, voltage levels, and system losses.
System Modeling Options
As with most engineering projects, there are multiple approaches to system modeling. This is how we see the various options:
- Evaluation of known issues.
- Value: Result in reduced cost, expenses, and/or risk on specific known issues. Localized Relay Coordination not as complete as options above can be improved to higher level. Minimum low cost option.
- System review of existing maps, one-line’s, data, and known or suspected issues.
- Value: Result in recommendations for improvement and/or highest value projects that would result in increased revenue or decreased expenses without the larger costs of a computer model.
- Defined or limited computer simulation of known or suspected issues.
- Value: Same as full system modeling only limited to specific system areas.
- Full system computer modeling (Aspen or other software), requires system data (line size & lengths, load size & locations and/or billing data).
- Value: A must have to get the most out of full blown smart grid/meter application. Capacitor placement more effective at power factor correction and loss reduction. Switching and conductor upgrade loss reductions are maximized. Can result in significant and on-going savings. Usually, coordination/fault study needed for accurate relay settings development and effective outage management. A must to maximize smart grid installation benefits.
As with any kind of electrical engineering study, a fault study can take many forms. We have our opinions, of course, but in the end it’s a matter of the utility determining the best use of its own resources. We can work with most companies to determine the best course of action, given the resources, time, and risk tolerance of the firm. Often, our work involves the planning and placement of protective devices and may include protective coordination with our client partners.
Voltage studies are among the most common electrical engineering studies and provide critical information the utility will use to manage its business. We can perform these studies efficiently in many states across the country. Our studies result in actionable information that will help our clients with power factor correction, capacitor placement, economic reconductor work, and planning for system upgrades.