Synchrophasor technology data helping to ensure grid reliability through early detection of risk

ISO-NE shares real-world example of how advanced system monitoring benefitted both the power grid and a regional power plant

On June 30, ISO New England wrapped up the two-year observation phase of the Synchrophasor Infrastructure and Data Utilization (SIDU) project. The project was a major smart-grid initiative to deploy synchrophasor technology in collaboration with regional transmission owners and with a grant from the US Department of Energy. Synchrophasor technology uses phasor measurement units (PMUs) to measure power grid voltage, current, frequency, and phase angle at 30 times per second. These measurements are time-synchronized to global positioning system (GPS) satellites.

Since implementation in 2013, the high-speed synchrophasor data and advanced data analytics have been proven to provide valuable information on the regional power system by enabling the monitoring of system dynamics that was previously not possible; fast and accurate post-event analysis; and validating and improving power system models. For more about the immediate benefits of the synchrophasor technology read the September 2013 article, “ISO New England successfully implements three-year DOE Smart Grid Project.”

Results during the observation phase have continued to highlight ways the synchrophasor data will help ensure the reliability of the regional power system and also be of assistance to regional power resources.

One real-world example of success and practical application

In the course of its data analysis, the ISO identified abnormal power system oscillations resulting in potentially dangerous fluctuations of power flows on the grid. The new “high-resolution” synchrophasor measurements enabled the ISO to not only detect but determine the origin of these oscillations: a regional power plant.

The ISO team shared their observations and synchrophasor data with plant management to help them research the cause of the problem. The joint efforts resulted in almost immediate upgrades at the plant that significantly decreased the oscillations, and the plant owner plans on making additional investments to further improve plant performance. The early detection and resolution of this issue is a win for New England, too, since eliminating abnormal oscillations is essential for maintaining reliability of the regional power grid.

Eugene Litvinov, ISO Chief Technologist, notes, “The detection of this issue and its successful, collaborative resolution is just a preview of the many regional benefits that the ISO expects from this new technology.”

Phasor measurement units (PMUs) allow the ISO to monitor system dynamics more closely than ever before.
The region’s new PMUs measure grid conditions 30 times per second, painting a much more accurate picture of what’s happening on the power system than traditional SCADA systems that measure grid conditions every 2 to 10 seconds. In this graph, for example, the high-resolution PMU data reveals abnormal power oscillations that the SCADA data does not. Real-time alerts enable the ISO to quickly respond to abnormal oscillations, which can cause potentially dangerous fluctuations of power flows on the grid without corrective action.

Example of Traditional SCADA Data vs New PMU Data 
in Power Grid Condition Monitoring

  View larger version.

Next steps

The ISO continues to improve its understanding of the benefits that this new technology can provide, with the goal of incorporating PMU data into real-time operations.

  • The ISO has started experimenting with integrating PMU data into the conventional data acquisition system (SCADA) and is also working with the region’s transmission and generating companies to install more PMUs.
  • Looking ahead, the ISO is starting planning efforts for real-time exchange of PMU data with neighboring systems to improve situational awareness through wide-area monitoring.

Learn more

Industry News & Developments
smart grid