Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Can Power Outages impact the application of IEC 61850?

Yes – it can. Why? More often we receive reports on power outages caused by aging components of the grid. Upgrading many aged insulators, transformers, lines, … costs a lot of money! This money is not available for new technologies! Yes!

Yesterday it was an insulator that broke. The 220 kV line dropped to the ground and caused a blackout in the Washington (DC) and other areas. They were surprised that they “did not know why the outage rippled to far from the Ryceville switching station.”

Click HERE for a news message on yesterdays event at Ryceville switching station.

A similar incident happened back to 2009 in Auckland, New Zealand, which had a direct impact on IEC 61850 applications. Excerpt from a report on February 13, 2009:

“A power lines company is getting flak from the government after one of its conductors collapsed on to houses, trapping people in south Auckland. Amazingly, no-one was hurt when Transpower's monster 220,000 volt line came crashing down late on Friday morning.

The incident comes just 10 days after a Transpower transformer failed and plunged 75,000 Auckland residents and businesses into darkness for two hours.
"It's just totally unacceptable," says John Key, Prime Minister. "So look, there is going to be a massive expenditure on the upgrading of Transpower's grid and I'm making sure that that network is not only more reliable, but safer," he says.
Transpower is investigating the latest incident and feeling the political heat. "It's fallen into a residential area that's been built under the lines since the line was constructed in the fifties and sixties. But no, it's not good enough," says Kieran Devine, Transpower operations manager.”

Click HERE for the (old) news on the Transpower incident.

The Transpower incident had a direct influence on a project to get experience with IEC 61850 in substations. The project was stopped and my consultancy contract with Transpower was canceled soon after the incident happened.

The aging infrastructure is about to “eat” a good part of the funding for new technologies … including implementation of cyber-security measures. So it is no surprise that in some cases in the U.S we see routable protocols being replaced by serial links! This saves a lot of dollars.

Excerpt from a GarretCom paper on non-routable protocols:

“… When only non-routable protocols are used, substations with critical assets are networked
without requiring the use of Critical Cyber Assets (CCAs) at remote substations, as defined in CIPstandard CIP-002. Avoidance of “CCAs” means that the other CIP-002 to CIP-009 requirements do not
apply at these substations, which will likely defer significant implementation costs and ongoing
administrative overhead associated with CIP compliance

Click HERE for the complete report. See also HERE or HERE for more details on the NERC CIP on non-routable protocols.

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