Central Hudson recently established its distributed generation program within the broader context of New York State's energy plan to foster an innovative, clean energy economy. While the program brought new possibilities and incentives to customers, it also introduced a few challenges.
"You can't advance sustainability at the expense of efficiency or reliability," said Kevin Post, Central Hudson's smart grid team leader. "We needed to make sure we had the right level of visibility and control over our grid."
The utility found its solution with longtime partner, Sensus, a Xylem brand, and their Remote Telemetry Module (RTM II), a wireless communication processing tool. Initially deployed to monitor grid conditions and protect against outages, Central Hudson has expanded the solution to include capabilities for distribution automation (DA) to optimize assets across its evolving network.
As solar farms grew in its service area, Central Hudson recognized the potential for excessive grid backflow and overvoltage that could cause system damage. Wanting to protect infrastructure and mitigate potential issues in a simple and cost-effective way, the utility's engineering team came up with a design for a direct transfer trip (DTT) system that would merge communications from the interoperable RTM II with circuit breakers and reclosers. The system would automatically isolate a distributed energy resource (DER), or small-sized power generation unit, when a condition exists that can lead to excessive reverse power flow or overvoltage is detected, and help ensure grid stability.
"It's a simple design that required little hardware or investment for set up," said Ryan Yakush, Central Hudson engineer. "So we recognized the potential to launch the solution on a large scale."
After successful testing, Central Hudson moved forward with a rollout of the DTT system in their northeast region. The solution has now been installed across five solar farms with sizes ranging from 2 to 5 MW. The team anticipates that the ease of configuring the system will make it easy to add more installations in the future.
"Central Hudson's distributed generation program is a great model for how utilities can maximize their technology investments while advancing clean energy," said Colin Sabol, president, measurement and control solutions at Xylem. "Sustainable technology must be affordable and scalable — just like this program."