Digital substations and IEC 61850 were the focus of the third annual Canada Protection Symposium (CPS) in Toronto. During the one-and-a-half-day conference, which is the only utility protection event in Canada, two keynote speakers and several presenters covered such topics as relays, protection and how to plan, test and finally commission a substation.
One of the highlights of the event was a half-day IEC 61850 tutorial produced by OMICRON, which focused on sections 7-2, 8-1 and 9-2. In addition, we toured the G&W manufacturing facilities, which was excellent. It was great to see up close how G&W engineers and other employees custom build the SF6 and solid dielectric insulated switchgear and reclosers. Finally, the best highlight for me was the insightful questions Dr. Alexander Apostolov had for the various presenters.
Spotlight on the Keynote Sessions
Max Cananzi, president of Alectra Utilities, provided the first of the two keynote presentations. Canazi, who earned his degree in electrical engineering from the University of Toronto and an MBA in finance from the Schulich School of Business at York University, focused his presentation on the merger of the municipally-owned utilities Enersource, Horizon Utilities and PowerStream on January 31, 2017. He also discussed the addition of Hydro One Brampton from the provincial government's Hydro One on February 28, 2017. The new organization is the fifth largest utility in Canada and the second largest municipal in North America after Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP).
The merger was brought about to enable the new organization to compete and win as the industry is going through the disruption we are all so familiar with. The combination lowers risk, operating costs and increases the capability and investment opportunities and promises to save customers $1 billion over 25 years and shareholders $.5 billion in 20 years. To accomplish these goals, Alectra is tackling several critical system upgrades/replacements over the next three years. These include billing system, ERP, GIS, SCADA, OMS and a new collective agreement.
This is a massive endeavor for the new combined organization, and as expected, the changes in the culture are the most significant challenge. The culture mantra is "One Identity, One Team, One Culture." Alectra is in the 22nd month of this three-year project, and the results to date have been impressive. From my perspective, it is great to see a utility being very proactive in designing and delivering on its own destiny. The highlight for me was Cananzi speaking about how he has seen so many team members in the new organization step up to the challenge and the personal growth he’s seen and leadership they are providing.
Dr. James Merlo, vice president, North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), delivered the second keynote. Merlo earned his bachelor's degree in human factors psychology from West Point, his master's degree in engineering psychology from the University of Illinois and his Ph.D. in applied experimental and human factors psychology from the University of Central Florida. During his presentation, he used the analogy of "can't smell your own room," which stressed the importance of having an independent party audit your reliability standards. Without that outside perspective, you can’t see the drift in your own organization.
He also mentioned the importance of the industry working together as an eco-system to share their experiences with the others in the community. That way, we can make sure we continue to achieve our high level of reliability as we tackle all the challenges we are facing in terms of the integration of renewables, cybersecurity, etc.
Finally, I picked up an issue of PAC World magazine at the conference, and the most recent issue focused on digital substations. If you are in protection, automation and control, consider picking up a copy. I read the entire issue of the magazine on my flight home, and the content was excellent. For more information, view the Web site.