Smart Grid Monitoring Technology Advances

By Published On: May 11, 2007

Utilities and transmission system operators are making progress incorporating a new “smart grid” technology into the state’s transmission system that can increase efficiency and reliability, electricity industry leaders said this week. “The adoption of practical new technologies that safeguard reliability is our obligation as stewards of our customers’ power delivery system,” said James Kelly, Southern California Edison vice-president of engineering, May 9. Synchrophasor measurement equipment is increasingly being embedded in the grid to monitor and respond to changing conditions. The industry has emphasized installing this smart grid system since the massive 2003 power outage in the Northeast, which left 50 million people in the dark. Edison has been using synchrophasor measurement to improve the stability of its network and minimize the chance of major power outages, according to Kelly. Data gathered with this measurement since 1998 were useful for helping system planners and managers to understand the types of problems that can arise on the grid under changing conditions, said Bharat Bhargava, Edison lead phasor engineer. He noted, however, that it was not useful in real time until this year. This breakthrough in data use involved developing the ability to capture and display real-time information in a way that is useful for utility system managers as they operate the grid, said Bhargava. Various graphs on a screen display a variety of key indicators, such as oscillation frequency, that managers can use to fine-tune grid operations. Now that there is a way to display the information in real time, smart-grid proponents hope to develop consistent rules that grid operators can use to isolate and respond to problems that could lead to blackouts if left unaddressed.

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