Power System Stability Improvement

Project ID: 661
Principal Investigator: J Agee
Research Topic: Improved Power Generation
Priority Area Assignments: 2011 (Climate Adaptation)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010
Keywords: None

Research Question

Can we provide increased power system stability and reliability and better assessment of generator controller performance, while reducing our maintenance effort through analysis of data acquired by plant monitoring equipment?

Need and Benefit

Reclamation operates hydroelectric generators connected to the Western North American power system and must operate by North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) and Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) guidelines to reliably and adequately supply electric power in a manner to support stewardship of Reclamation facilities for the American public. Therefore, Reclamation must support activities, including developing new methods to determine how Reclamation generators affect power system stability and reliability. This is a corporate-wide responsibility.

The research goal is to prevent blackouts, brownouts, and generally improve the safety margin of the power system. Preventing one regional blackout can result in avoided costs of over $1 billion. Reclamation does not want to be responsible for creating a blackout. Power system operation is based on limitations calculated by computer model simulations. Given increasing demand on energy supply and delivery in the Western United States, the system is operated closer to the point of instability than in the past. Therefore, improving the accuracy of computer models is of primary importance.

To achieve this goal, we plan to develop and implement new methods for identifying structure, dynamic parameters, and performance of generator controllers (voltage regulators, power system stabilizers, speed governors) used in Reclamation powerplants. Obtaining this information every 5 years is required by WECC and may soon be required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The identification process presently requires engineers to travel to the generation site with specialized equipment, insert test signals into the controllers, record responses, and interpret results. This is time consuming, labor intensive, and costly. Identification methods developed will be used to replace manual methods for verifying and maintaining controller performance.

Software will be developed to identify controller characteristics, dynamic parameters, their effects on the power system, and any unusual operation that may be occurring. We plan to use existing and new plant condition monitoring equipment at several Reclamation facilities (Grand Coulee, Yellowtail, Morrow Pt., Flatiron) and temporarily installed equipment at other facilities. We will test our concepts in the laboratory with our real-time simulation computer running a single-machine-infinite-bus model, in software on a multi-machine power system simulation program, and on several actual systems. New analysis methods based on data acquisition and parameter identification will determine the impact of generator controllers on power system stability in a more efficient way, while adding ability to monitor impact of long-term power system operation on powerplant equipment life.

Benefits will improve commissioning and periodic field testing efficiency of generator controllers, resulting in less travel for engineers and savings of up to 50 percent for each commissioning/field test (up to $200,000 annually for Reclamation). Efforts target all Reclamation power facilities. As other utilities use the same manual techniques for controller identification, potential for both Federal/non-Federal technology transfer exists. Additional benefits will be derived by accurately identifying and maintaining adequate stability margins, which can save hundreds of millions of dollars in avoided costs by eliminating the need for additional transmission lines.

Contributing Partners


Last Updated: June 29, 2015