Distribution Grid Management

The issue

Distribution grid management is an array of advanced and emerging technologies installed along the power lines to monitor and control distribution equipment to facilitate faster electric service outage identification, reporting, and restoration and to provide more efficient operation of the electrical system.

Distribution Grid Management – Advanced Interfaces
Distribution Grid Management – Advanced Interfaces

Advanced interfaces

Many distribution grid management technologies will provide their full spectrum of benefits only when interfaced with certain other systems.

AMI Installation
AMI Installation
  • Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI): A new generation of electric meters that enable continuous two-way communication between the customer and company and facilitates monitoring and control functions; and
  • Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA): SCADA systems monitor conditions and provide certain remote functions allowing the system to reconfigure itself to potentially deliver power “downstream” of a fault.

Customer benefits

Distribution grid management investment will develop and deploy technologies that will improve customer satisfaction:
  • Improved customer service through faster response facilitated by the ability to remotely connect and disconnect service or report outage and restoration activities,
  • Greater service reliability through advanced detection and isolation of certain system faults to minimize service interruption to customers,
  • Improved power quality through remote monitoring and control of power regulating equipment

Source: US Dept of Energy

Not all technologies within the distribution grid management vision are available today and many of the connections that must be in place between other new and existing technologies and systems are still in development. Rollout of distribution grid management technologies will take several years and significant financial investment to fully deploy and much longer to fully realize all benefits. Distribution grid management technologies will be installed as regulatory support is obtained.

Distribution grid management features

Distribution grid management involves technologies that can monitor equipment status, detect faults in the distribution system, notify controllers about fault location and optimize service restoration activities. Distribution grid management requires installation of automated equipment and a robust communications system. Distribution grid management features include:

Sodium Sulfur (NaS) battery
Sodium Sulfur (NaS) battery
  • Automated outage and restoration reporting,
  • Faster identification of outage location and equipment involved,
  • Automated switching to reroute the flow of power when the normal route has been interrupted in some way,
  • Voltage fluctuation monitoring with alerts,
  • Improved system efficiency through automated load management and supply and demand matching,
  • Enhanced worker and public safety as there is less direct exposure to energized equipment.