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Smart grid helping ComEd improve grid reliability

By Donna Donnawitz
April 30, 2013

Reliability is among the most prominent gains offered by the smart grid. The contemporary electric grid has a reputation for resiliencyproblems because of limitations in identifying outages, making rapid repairs and getting the grid configured properly again. Smart grid solutions can overcome this by providing key visibility into the grid and allowing power to be rerouted efficiently. As the grid stands, a flaw in one small area can lead to an entire segment of the grid being shut down. Smart grid technologies, particularly distribution automation, enable utility providers to adjust the route of power through the grid, isolating the problem to the smallest possible area and keeping the lights on for as many customers as possible.

According to a recent Utility Products report, ComEd is among the utility providers benefiting from the reliability gains associated with distribution automation solutions.

ComEd's smart grid project
The news source explained that ComEd's recent report to the Illinois Commerce Commission detailed a variety of key advances in the region's smart grid project. In just a year, ComEd has deployed approximately 470 distribution automation units throughout the grid, contributing to major advanced from a reliability perspective. Distribution automation technologies provide better capabilities when it comes to routing power throughout a grid. This can prove integral to keeping power available and avoiding outages, something that is already happening in the Chicago area.

The distribution automation solutions deployed by ComEd contributed to 82,000 fewer disruptions to ComEd energy customers in 2012. Through the same period, 20,000 service disruptions were avoided because distribution automation solutions were in place, the report explained.

The long-term vision for ComEd's project will have distribution automation and other smart grid solutions all linked to a common management center at a ComEd hub, the news source said. This will create an environment in which customers no longer have to notify the utility company when their power is out and outages can be dealt with much more quickly.

Establishing a distribution automation network
Finding success with distributed automation depends on being able to connect various aspects of the grid to a data network. This makes serial to Ethernet terminal servers a key tool in the broad smart grid landscape. Supporting distribution automation as part of a broad smart grid system depends heavily on interoperability between diverse device types. This creates an environment in which terminal servers and similar tools are essential to innovation in the sector.

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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