T&D World Magazine

Austin Energy Uses Siemens Switches in Smart Grid Project

Austin Energy is using Siemens’ Bridges Electric Vector group-operated motorized intelligent switches for loop switching with complete switch-sensing, control and communications in its Smart Grid pilot project. The primary goals for the intelligent grid system are to enable automated load shifting and outage management through sophisticated back-end management software.

Forty Siemens’ Bridges Electric Vector automated, group-operated air break switches are included in Austin Energy’s Smart Grid pilot project. The Vector switches are capable of sensing voltage and current and are remotely controlled through supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) in both normally closed and normally open points within the distribution feeders. All switch operations are remotely controlled by a SCADA operator and/or master system software, thereby eliminating the need to operate the devices from the control cabinet. The controller is fully capable of performing automatic sectionalizing operations.

This pilot project plays an integral part in the functional testing of the intelligent grid scheme planned by Austin Energy and its partners.

Highlights of the Austin Energy pilot project include: Siemens’ Bridges Electric RCMS remote current monitoring system for fault current detection Three-phase voltage sensing on both the source and load sides of the switch for use on normally closed and open points within the distribution system Remote supervisory control achieved via a programmable remote terminal unit via DNP 3.0, Level 2 and radio communication.

Necessary current and voltage sensing cables, motor control cable, antenna and antenna cable are also provided by Siemens as part of an integrated solution that allows for a "plug-and-play" approach as well as a reduction in the utility's installation costs.

Powering the Texas capital, Austin Energy is the nation’s ninth largest community-owned electric utility serving 388,000 customers and a population of more than 900,000. The utility manages over 2,600 megawatts of generation comprised of a diverse mix of nuclear, coal, natural gas and renewable energy sources.

This is Austin Energy’ initial foray into automation, but this municipal utility is certainly no stranger to progressive energy programs. Austin Energy created the top performing renewable energy program in the nation.

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