Distribution automation (DA) optimizes a utility’s operations and directly improves the reliability of its distribution power system. Adding targeted distribution automation capabilities can be economical when they are an extension of your existing SCADA investments and the communication infrastructure. The success or failure of an automation program hinges on proper selection of equipment and communications to seamlessly integrate data into the utility control room. The key is to choose equipment that leverages your current assets wherever possible. With the latest in high speed communication technology, there has never been a better time for utilities to extend their automation beyond the substation.
Power System Engineering, Inc. (PSE) has years of experience designing a wide range of DA applications and systems for utilities, such as applications that include automatic sectionalizing and SCADA controlled switching. Known for our experience with automation projects and power delivery planning, PSE understands both the benefits and the technology involved with DA. Some of the services PSE can provide include:
- Evaluating the present status of the utility’s communications infrastructure and designing a DA system that leverages current assets to provide the most cost-effective solution.
- Providing project management support throughout the DA procurement and installation process with a focus on utility risk, cost, and time management. This process can include creating a unique project scope based on the utility’s needs, developing detailed Request for Information (RFI) and request for proposal (RFP), preparing cost and benefit evaluations of each potential DA application, and creating equipment and services purchasing contracts that focus on protecting the utility’s interests.
- Providing hands-on system configuration and integration services that include independent third-party site acceptance testing (SAT) to verify that the system was delivered as advertised by the supplier.
- Providing repeatable software integration checklists verified in our on-site laboratory using the communications and automation equipment to be used in the DA project.
- Developing business models and designing volt/VAR applications that save the utility operational costs.
- Developing load management program designs and assisting in implementation.
- Presenting and leading workshops addressing DA applications.
Most utilities want to reduce customer complaints, outage lengths, and crew response to outages. Until recently, DA has been thought to be beneficial only for large urban utilities. Today, with the advances made in communication media, DA can be successfully installed in many utilities, even rural systems, providing immediate payback in member satisfaction and reduced operating expenses. Utilities using DA can achieve:
Significant reduction outage time for customers, with minimal circuit reconfiguration resulting in improved reliability indices.
Automatic/semi-automatic feeder tie switches.
Reduction in travel time to remote locations, reducing fuel and labor costs.
Reduction in feeder patrol time to isolate faults.
Information reported back to the office immediately, providing a clearer picture of what is happening in the field.
The gauge of effectiveness of DA implementation is reflected in reduced outage times, reduced responses to outages, and the level of automation desired by the utility. In this area, a higher cost does not necessarily indicate a smarter purchase. PSE can help unravel the mystery and make it work for you.
The experienced team at PSE can assist your utility by:
Providing executive- and performance-level evaluation of DA solutions to determine the benefits for the utility and its members.
Training utility personnel on specific DA operations and the best way to utilize the information retrieved by the system.
Limiting the risk of capital equipment procurement by creating the specifications needed for a DA system, writing RFIs and RFPs with utility-favorable terms and conditions, evaluating vendor bids, timing implementation, and integration to other systems (Geographic Information System (GIS), SCADA, dispatch, Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Outage Management System (OMS)); all in a manner that saves the utility money and time.
Creating field-reproducible DA automation schemes in PSE’s lab.
Providing experienced project management for integration and implementation of large scale projects that may be out of the scope of the utility personnel.
PSE - Experienced & Knowledgeable
PSE provides a depth of expertise that can assist your utility in all phases of implementing and operating a successful DA system.