T&D World Magazine

BC Hydro Pilots New Automation Technology to Reduce Power Outages

North Vancouver's Park Royal South Shopping Center is the beneficiary of a pilot project by BC Hydro to significantly reduce the incidents of power outages. Using new automation technology called a distribution closed loop network, the mall will now be served by two lines from two BC Hydro substations. This way, in case of a failure in one of the substations or if one line experiences an outage, the load can be supplied by the other line to provide power.

"Providing superior service reliability is extremely important to BC Hydro," said Bev Van Ruyven, senior vice president distribution. "Power outages are very costly and disruptive and can result in major expenses and lost revenue to customers."

Van Ruyven added: "Use of this innovative automation technology, the first fully commissioned pilot project in BC Hydro's system is also one of the first in North America. The automation technology is one key technological strategy that BC Hydro will be using to continue to meet our goal to provide reliable power, at low cost, for generations."

John Lawson and Norgate substations each have a line that provides power to the South Mall and the Village portion of the shopping center. In the original system, each line served a fixed portion of the electrical load. If a fault occurred on either line, the affected customers' power would be out until a field team could manually restore supply from the second line. In the new system, called "networked feeders" both lines serve the mall simultaneously. This way if one line trips, the other line still provides power.

The Park Royal project was initiated as a result of BC Hydro's membership in the Distribution Vision 2010 research consortium, a group of progressive utilities formed in 2001 to develop new technological solutions to provide options to customers who require superior reliability. BC Hydro is one of the first members to commission a pilot project into full operation. Using the "networked feeders" concept, instead of experiencing an outage, the critical customers only experience a brief voltage dip while the fault is cleared.

The pilots represent a concerted effort by utilities to achieve a power service reliability improvement by the use of sophisticated relaying and high-speed communications, to isolate faults quickly and reconfigure the system automatically in less than a minute to provide virtually uninterruptible power to customers.

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