Skip to Main Content
Upon completion of a successful Distribution Automation (DA) Pilot Project centered in National Grid's upstate New York service territory, it was determined that the reliability improvements delivered by the pilot demonstration justified a much more comprehensive effort to further evaluate additional Smart Grid technologies. The vision was to conduct experiments with a full suite of Smart Grid technologies including: AMI; Home Area Network and energy management systems; Automatic Fault Isolation & System Restoration; advanced feeder monitoring; distribution transformer monitoring; single pole tripping and Pulse Closing technology on distribution line reclosers; advanced capacitor control with independent pole operation; faulted circuit indicators with 2-way communication capability; and distribution fault locating capability. This vision came to be known as National Grid's Smart Grid Pilot proposal. Many challenges exist with such a comprehensive approach from public and personnel safety, to ensuring interoperability between devices and systems of different manufacture. In order to determine which technologies would provide the most benefit to National Grid's customer base, a means was needed to prequalify the various types of products available before large scale deployments were initiated. Looking at the large number of Smart Grid device suppliers, architectures and products available, we realized that the optimum solution would be to build a facility wherein a wide range of Smart Grid technologies could be installed and systematically put through their paces; i.e. actually tested in as near a real-world atmosphere as practical. Thus was born the National Grid “Smart Technology Centre” or STC. Soon thereafter, National Grid's Utility of the Future engineering team designed, engineered, and constructed a truly innovative test fixture that enabled system level testing on complex distribution networks to ensure process safety during field de- loyment. One of only a few known organizations in the U.S., National Grid has in-house capability to truly test and evaluate an end-to-end Smart distribution system architecture where systems such as automated fault isolation and system restoration can be evaluated. This paper will discuss interoperability testing that National Grid embarked upon to prepare for its proposed Smart Grid Pilot demonstration and will detail the lengths that were taken in creating a test site where medium voltage Smart Grid technologies could be fully evaluated to ensure that the various applications would play well with each other prior to actually being deployed in the field. Furthermore, this paper will focus on providing an overview of the system level testing and technical evaluation of distribution protection and control equipment with automated fault isolation and system restoration capabilities. It will also detail a number of lessons learned from this effort and discuss future plans for smart technology evaluation as a basis for an educational platform and workforce training tool.
Date of Conference: 7-10 May 2012