Power System Diagnostics

Project ID: 1776
Principal Investigator: Eric Eastment
Research Topic: Improved Power Generation
Funded Fiscal Years: 2016, 2017 and 2018
Keywords: None

Research Question

Power system diagnostics was formed to respond to demonstrated problems in the Bureau of
Reclamation's (Reclamation) electrical facilities and research-oriented requests of staff at
Reclamation power facilities. The broad focus is on improving equipment diagnostic methods
and techniques and developing/innovating new methods to reduce maintenance costs and
equipment downtime in the areas of high-voltage insulation, rotating machine protection, and
maintenance testing and diagnostics. Each area plays a major role in determining cost and
efficiency of operating Reclamations' hydroelectric facilities. Tasks are targeted to solve
repetitive problems, address common Reclamation needs, broaden and diversify facility
equipment maintenance expertise, and mitigate the impact and assist with the integration of
renewable energy technologies with Reclamation's existing hydroelectric infrastructure. Tasks
are also formulated based on extensive field diagnostics experience and interaction with facility
engineers and crafts.

Need and Benefit

Reduction in facility operation and maintenance (O&M) costs and improved power system
reliability requires new methods to diagnose abnormal equipment operation, address effects of
aging and wear, and minimize costly downtime, which together form an evolving problem set.

Much of this research will result in developing new test methods and equipment for field
diagnostics of high-voltage rotating machines, power transformers, and associated high-voltage
auxiliary equipment protection and controls, and monitoring devices. The study approach
includes information gathering from existing industry practices, literature searches, and
interaction with Reclamation field and Denver Office personnel, who are our stakeholders and
beneficiaries. Surveys of plant operation (or misoperation) history will also be conducted. Some
research will require high-power and high-voltage field testing, which will be conducted on
generators at available Reclamation plants with in-kind service assistance-type partnerships and
co-funding. Field test information will serve to increase our understanding of machine operating
characteristics, leading to better O&M/repair practices, reduced costs, and avoided costs
throughout Reclamation.

The program research goal is to improve the reliability and operational efficiency of Reclamation
power facilities. Costs for transformer/generator failure range from $1 million to $50 million per

With improved equipment testing methods, more reliable plant operation is possible with less
downtime required for failure diagnostics or misoperation analysis. Resulting reduction in
maintenance costs and lost revenue will contribute to improved plant operating efficiency.
Machine parameter and electrical characteristics information from field testing data will be
shared with technical peers and will benefit Reclamation-wide maintenance, operation, and
protection of large generators and motors. On a regional scale, this information will also support
better power system modeling for prevention of costly blackouts (regional and local).

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Please contact research@usbr.gov about research products related to this project.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20