Friday, September 9, 2011

Huge Power Outage in South-West of U.S.A – started in Substation?

The South-West of the U.S.A. was hit by a major power outage (some 5 million people had no power) that was likely being caused by some event in a substation yesterday (Thursday, 2011-09-08). Reports say that it is likely that an employee removing a piece of monitoring equipment has caused a massive power outage. Investigations are underway.

What does this mean for standards like IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25, DNP3, CIM, … ? It means a lot for people that deal with the power system! Why? Because we have to understand that the power delivery system is a huge and complex POWER system!!! Power engineers and electrical engineers are very crucial to the availability of the power 24 hours and 7 days a week! All the smart(er) grid and substation automation activities and solutions based on information models and communication standards are secondary (even they are becoming more important in the future).

When I conducted the workshop on IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25 in Shanghai (China) last Monday, I highly recommended to the 110 young engineers and students that they should closely team up with the experienced senior power and electrical engineers that have run the power grid so far!

Information Technology WILL (and MUST) SUPPORT the operation of the future power system – BUT it is more important to have enough power and electrical engineers. So, TEAMWORK of all people involved in the power system is VERY CRUCIAL!! And PEOPLEWARE – well experienced and educated engineers.

Teamwork requires that each person involved has a basic understanding of all the many aspects of the grid, how to operate and maintain it! Electrical engineers need to understand the huge influence that will come through the new standards like IEC 61850, … and IT people need the basics of the power grid!

If you get more details on the cause of the blackout in San Diego this week, please post it through the comment link to this post. Thanks.

We all (as a Team) have to learn something out of this big event!

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