It’s never a question of if the next big storm will hit — but when. Do you have a clear resiliency plan in place?
"Utilities are learning how to prepare the grid ahead of time so they can mitigate events and prevent them from ever happening," says Martin Shalhoub, power consulting for ABB. "With this approach, they don't have to spring into crisis mode."
Shalhoub, who has 15 years of experience in the energy industry, is one of several speakers presenting November 6 at the virtual conference Preparing for the Power Evolution, in the Grid Reliability track. Shalhoub will discuss weather-related events such as Super Storm Sandy, factors leading up to the Northeast Blackout, and what you need to know for a resiliency plan for natural events small to catastrophic.
Preparing for the Power Evolution is an all-online event as part of the SmartStream Digital Conference series, sponsored by ABB Automation & Power World. Registration is required and is open to power utility management, engineers, and operations professionals to attend, free of charge. The Grid Reliability track focuses on various aspects of grid reliability and resiliency, both at the distribution and transmission level. Discussions range from preparatory efforts like grid hardening to storm event management and rapid recovery.
If power is knocked out, how will your utility restart the system?" Shalhoub asked. "You don't just hit a switch, but instead, you need to get the critical infrastructure up first, and you need to have a plan for system restoration and compliance."
To address this issue and ensure grid reliability, utilities are now looking at using more energy storage technology. By 2020, the three investor-owned utilities in California must own 2 GW of storage. Regarding solar, utilities must understand how to properly account for distributed generation, and those companies involved in offshore wind must discover how to get the power from the coast to the proper load center.
Critical infrastructure protection.
Utilities are now required to focus more on interregional planning by looking at projects that approve reliability across multiple regions and alleviate congestion. Due to changing regulations, utilities must now follow PJM's recommendations to improve reliability.
"It changes the landscape when utilities can no longer refuse within their own footprint," he says. "It also forces them to be more creative becuase they have to act like a developer and come up with solutions, which all have their own timelines and price tags."
Utilities must also follow NERC protocols, which focus on the protection of assets. After a sniper attack on substations in California, the group looked at grid reliability and determined that if a sniper or hacker would take out seven critical substations, then the entire U.S. grid could collapse. To prevent that from happening, utilities are now doing proper due diligence on their existing assets, Shalhoub says.
Through a series of live webinars, Shalhoub and his co-presenters plan to set the stage for the factors affecting grid reliability. Discussions will include how utilities can harden their systems, extend the life of their existing assets, deal with the challenge of aging infrastructure, prepare for FERC 797 to reduce the impact of geomagnetic disturbances, and explore how technology like HVDC and static VAR compensators can provide needed VAr support.
"The backbone of the grid is fundamentally old, but we are seeing new technology that can come in and do wonderful things," Shalhoub says.