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Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Monday, November 11, 2013

New England's Regional Grid Goes High Tech


Okay, so maybe New England's regional electric power grid was pretty high tech already, at least from the perspective of average folks like you and I.

But earlier this year, ISO-New England completed $14.9 million project that provides the grid operator with far more detailed data about the operation of the transmission network. The project involved the installation of data collection devices known as phasor measurement units.
 
The phasor measurement units allow for the sampling of such data as voltage and frequency levels at different locations along the grid, according to ISO-NE officials. The devices also allow for the sampling of power conditions at a rate of 30 times per second as opposed to the previous capability of one sample every two seconds.

Nearly 80 phasor measurement units were installed along the grid in the six state region.

The devices almost immediately began paying dividends when they began operating earlier this year , according to ISO-NE officials.

A forest fire in Canada in July tripped multiple transmission lines, resulting in the loss of about 1,750 megawatts of imported power from Hydro Quebec. The data from the phasor measurement units enabled the incident to be captured at millisecond accuracy across a wide area.

That, in turn, allowed system engineers to understand what exactly happened to the grid, and how the system behaved before, during, and after the disturbance.

The technology upgrades for the grid were paid for by a $6.4 million grant from the federal Department of Energy (DOE) and with $8.5 million from ISO-NE and the region’s transmission owners.
 
Installing phasor measurement units on regional energy grids was a recommendation that the DOE had made in the aftermath of the 2003 blackout that started in Ohio and spread from to the Northeast in a matter of seconds.

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