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Electricity Transmission Utility - Outage Management Systems and Planning

Electricity Transmission Utility - Outage Management Systems and Planning

Electricity Transmission Utility - Outage Management Systems and Planning

(OP)
Hi All,

I am working on a project with an electrical transmission utility, looking at systems to deliver significant improvements in management of network outages. I would be very keen to hear from the community, how the industry manages and secures planned outages and the impacts of unplanned events on these.

Current practice is quite labour-intensive, complicated by involvement from numerous sections within the organisation. This is compounded by the required interactions with stakeholders, such as regulatory authorities; generation suppliers and customers.

Changing loads and supply intermittency (such as associated with renewable generation) presents challenges with network forecasting.

What has been the past experience of the community? What systems have others put in place, or are considering? There appears to be good software solutions available. We have been looking at a few. What are others using and is it holistic (across entire organisation) or packages of individual systems that feed into an over-arching system? But, in addition to software systems, what other strategies; innovation; technology and methodologies have been adopted?

Please share any comments.

RE: Electricity Transmission Utility - Outage Management Systems and Planning

I'd start with your peers in your regulatory environment. That may be a small hand full (for us there are two others in the same state/federal pool) or there may be a lot (many, many more with the same federal requirements and varying state requirements). Distribution is likely to have more local requirements while transmission is likely to have broader requirements. How are others handling the same drivers? Given that you spell it "labour" and not "labor", I doubt that what I know will hold much weight. But the guys you interconnect with, and the guys they interconnect with, should have good information; whether it's "this works really well" or it's "try anything except..." What works well in one market place may fail abysmally because the vendor has good support services in one part of the world, but horrible, crappy, support in another part of the world. Some questions lend themselves to very general, worldwide, answers while others are much more limited. I'm afraid this is much more the latter than the former.

Maybe you could provide much more information on the shortcomings of your present system and what you'd like to do better. That might help narrow things down a bit.

Outage Management seems to be one thing while changing loads and supply intermittency seem to two other, very different, things. What is the subject you're most interested in?

RE: Electricity Transmission Utility - Outage Management Systems and Planning

Quote:

Current practice is quite labour-intensive, complicated by involvement from numerous sections within the organisation. This is compounded by the required interactions with stakeholders, such as regulatory authorities; generation suppliers and customers.

Changing loads and supply intermittency (such as associated with renewable generation) presents challenges with network forecasting.

Welcome to the club...

It's much the same in "my" utility; it is an unavoidable fact of life with which one must learn to deal. The only certainty that has arisen in our world is that there is a very detailed, prescriptive/proscriptive outage planning process that must be followed in order to obtain and implement outages. Although the protocols of this process dictate specific lead time milestones for each and every stage of each and every outage, the timelines are the one thing that seem to become curiously elastic when/if the customer has the ear of the right mucky-muck and a "make it happen" directive suddenly comes down from on high, something which frustrates us system controllers immensely.

As to the seeming unrelatedness of outage planning and network forecasting, it isn't so; one of the functions of our in-house "Network Outage Management System" program is to compare equipment ratings to predicted primary demand and network flows, and warn when things are getting iffy.

CR

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." [Proverbs 27:17, NIV]

RE: Electricity Transmission Utility - Outage Management Systems and Planning

(OP)
Thanks davidbeach for your response. Indeed, we are including discussions with our regulatory peers. We in fact have a meeting this week, with our regulator, for discussions. Also, refer below, for further extension of aspects of topic, which may help narrow responses.

Thanks crshears for your response. The “club” is probably a big one world-wide. From our (team) findings to date, we can relate to all of your comments.

To hopefully extend forum discussion, I hope the following topics may help to either narrow or extend responses:

Our main focus is on transmission networks.

The following challenges, seem to be consistent across some organizations:
Transparency of various work activity schedule planning.
Complexity of Outage Management Procedure (OMP).
Governance (adherence) of process.
Balancing network versus market management.
Setting work priorities.
Managing conflicts of interest between stakeholders (regulators; generators; customers).
(There are many others, but let’s limit mention to the above for now)

It is not the intention of discussion to either promote or denigrate any particular product, so please be mindful of constructive comment when considering the following:
There seem to be some very good developments in Outage Management System (OMS) software. It would be very helpful to obtain feedback of user experience with these. How have these supported an OMP re improvements; efficiency; process simplification etc.? What products are people using? We have identified products such as Versify; OATI and Sun-Net, as possible candidates for consideration. How does such software interface with other software? How customizable are they?

We are focused on systems for pro-active planning i.e. planning before outage, not systems that manage un-planned power blackouts (their location and customer call management etc. such as associated with Distribution utilities).

Some other related questions to throw out there:

Have organizations had involvement with industry groups or other organizations, to consult on topics related to outage planning? What organizations? What are some of the key outcomes?

Is anybody aware of any literature or organization such as IEEE; Cigre; EPRI covering Transmission Outage Management? Has anyone modeled Outage Management Planning in the Transmission industry?

What is your organizations outage notification lead-time with Regulatory Authorities?

Can anyone comment on any methods adopted, or being considering, to improve historical or current activities associated with an OMP?

How are outages negotiated with generators & big industry? Is this managed by dedicated relationship building and personal contact, by specialist managers, or by more autonomous means?

RE: Electricity Transmission Utility - Outage Management Systems and Planning

Hey Humble, you're most welcome.

As to your follow-up post, I'll try to give as comprehensive an answer as I can from my perspective early next week when I'm on night shifts; I simply won't have time today.

CR

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." [Proverbs 27:17, NIV]

RE: Electricity Transmission Utility - Outage Management Systems and Planning

Hey again Humble,

So here it is, the scheduled night shift.

I'll do my best to respond to selected points in your post in the order given; here goes.

You wrote: "Thanks davidbeach for your response. Indeed, we are including discussions with our regulatory peers. We in fact have a meeting this week, with our regulator, for discussions." So how did the meeting go? Any fleshing out of the path forward you can provide?

You also wrote: "Our main focus is on transmission networks." Excellent, because T & D is all we do; no generation of our own although we do of course deal with generating entities both large and small.

"The following challenges, seem to be consistent across some organizations: Transparency of various work activity schedule planning." True in our case, but within limits...

Distribution breakers [ from 13.8 through 44 kV ], but not the points downstream of them, are officially and putatively, as per Market Rules, "Bulk Power System Delivery Points," and as such outages to them are [ officially ] supposed to be reported to our Independent Electrical System Operator [IESO]. When the Rules first went into effect, we reported said outages to the IESO...for a little less than a week; seems they didn't have the tools or human resources to handle that volume of work. Since then both they and we have an agreement that absent any impact from these elements back into the Bulk Power System, we deploy them autonomously. Internal transparency exists between our Operations, Electrical Maintenance, Protection and Control, and Lines departments, and external entities such as Local Distribution Companies insofar as is needed to effectively co-ordinate outage planning. By way of example, we have no issues sharing distribution system element connectivities with one another, nor our individual outage plans, as each knowing when the other is doing what greatly facilitates bundling work in the most optimal manner. Power pricing, though, and other market considerations are not disclosed.

The latter stricture also applies to our HV grid [ > 50 kV ], perhaps even more so, since the stakes are higher; but other than for that information, outage plans are freely shared between the entities involved, viz., internally with Network Operations [that's us], [HV] Lines Construction and Lines Maintenance, the Tx Cable Crew, the aforementioned EMD and P&C, and externally with other Transmission Owners, our IESO, neighbouring IESOs, generating entities, grid-connected Local Distribution Companies, meaning those who play with the big boys by having their own HV-connected transformer stations, and so on, with the understanding that such outage information is tightly controlled and restricted to sharing between said entities on a need-to-know basis. Indeed, after our internal Continuous Rolling Outage Process meetings, planners attend Transmission System Outage Grouping meetings with external stakeholders to plan for future outages in the longer term and adjust to the inevitable changes that arise in the shorter term.

As to the planners themselves, Long Term Planners are looking more than four months out, Short Term Planners work a week to ten days out, and Mid Term Planners cover the ground in between. The STPs try to get outage plans in place no less than one week out, but those final few days are commonly the most frenetic ones since that's when all the last-minute changes come through.

"System security considerations" are predominantly addressed between Transmission Owners and IESOs; other entities may be aware that these can be highly impactive on their outage plans, and may become aware of such limitations in a general sense, but for reasons which should be obvious the exact concerns and the quantifiable limits involved are played very close to the vest.

"Complexity of Outage Management Procedure (OMP)" is something I could write on in only a very, very general sense; it can be all over the map, literally, depending on where in the world you are, as davidbeach has so succinctly observed, so I will say no more about it.

"Governance (adherence) of [to?] process" is something I have already touched on; in my world, for the most part, the players stick to the rules, although some of them have no compunction about attempting an end-run around them, and unfortunately too often such efforts succeed, since outage planners have no rock-solid power or authority to refuse outages, meaning much work goes into planning an outage with those engaged in the effort recognizing the futility of their labours, knowing the outage may be cancelled by real-time controllers, when these have the backing of their managers, which often enough they don't.

One bad thing is that when one spineless wimp with the purported authority to quash an outage allows an outage to proceed anyway in the face of glaring technical issues, such as, for example, allowing a generator who has only provided a shoe-string quality transfer trip system [ with highly problematic performance to match] for his facility to produce onto the grid anyway in the absence of reliable transfer tripping, that generator tells two friends, who tell two more friends, who...and the next thing you know Pandora's box has been opened and every single generator out there has the ammunition to 'prove' that he should also be allowed to generate in the same circumstance.

"Balancing network versus market management" is above my pay grade and beyond my sphere of influence.

"Setting work priorities" requires foresight and insight into power system operations, consequences, severity, working within budgets over which one has no control, and so on, and shares much with the next category...

"Managing conflicts of interest between stakeholders (regulators; generators; customers)" shares much with setting work priorities; it can be, and often is, quite the blacksmithing art, meaning that when the interests of the assorted parties to the outage conflict, there is no choice but to somehow hammer out an agreement. Unfortunately the tact, diplomacy, leadership, responsibility, accountability, wisdom and flexibility needed in such situations is often deplorably lacking in the individuals sent to the table on behalf of their entity, which leads to sub-optimal solutions being implemented.

Outage management software is a broad topic, and one which I cannot address to any great depth since we, as mentioned previously, use in-house software supported by an external contractor, a product that is proprietary and one that I am therefore not at liberty to say a great deal about.

"We are focused on systems for pro-active planning i.e. planning before outage, not systems that manage un-planned power blackouts (their location and customer call management etc. such as associated with Distribution utilities)." As I wrote above, we do both T & D, and deal with both planned and unplanned outages in both; our Outage Response Management System for unplanned outages keys quite nicely into our Network Outage Management System in the planning timeframe. I mention this only because there are synergies to be recognized and accommodated between planned and unplanned work.

"What is your organizations outage notification lead-time with Regulatory Authorities?" An absolute minimum of eighteen [18] calendar days prior for non-emergent work.

"How are outages negotiated with generators & big industry? Is this managed by dedicated relationship building and personal contact, by specialist managers, or by more autonomous means?" It depends...some industries seem to have enough clout to be the tail that wags the dog, so to speak; their edicts descend on us from on high. Others are more like peers, and the relationship is reasonably egalitarian. Still others are mere supplicants who have to take what they can get, although we try not to treat them harshly or unfairly.

Hope some of this is useful.

CR

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." [Proverbs 27:17, NIV]

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