System-Restoration Drill Successful Despite Lack of ACE Control
VALLEY FORGE, Pa. — PJM’s two-day spring restoration drill succeeded in recovering from a hypothetical blackout, but operators couldn’t re-establish the area control error because the simulation lacked necessary state-estimator data.
“We’ll work on that for next year,” PJM’s Ryan Lifer told members at last week’s Operating Committee meeting.
On Day 1, the initial focus was on energizing black start units to establish cranking paths to ensure safe shutdown of all nuclear facilities. Transmission owners, all of whom were required to participate for NERC compliance, were informed there was no outside assistance. By Day 2, participants were allowed to call in outside resources. PJM worked with members to identify possible tie opportunities, and Lifer said “quite a bit more” were established compared to previous drills. However, there could have been more.
“I think a lot of members focused on establishing internal load before making ties, so we need to encourage building up [reinforcing] the RTO,” he said.
PJM Seeks to Tap Synchrophasors’ Potential
Synchrophasor technology has advanced to being “really in the sweet spot from transitioning from science project to useful product that we can use in the control room,” PJM’s Ryan Nice explained.
Synchrophasors are meters that provide instantaneous real-time data, like SCADA systems but with considerably less delay. The information could be very valuable, Nice said, but only if it’s utilized in a meaningful way. “If you don’t do anything with the data, no value is being generated,” he said.
Part of the issue with synchrophasors is that no one knows their true potential. There is potential, Nice said, for revolutionary applications, such as increasing infrastructure resiliency and compiling the data into system-management tools that can react in real time. One tantalizing possibility is using the data for state estimation without any energy management system (EMS) SCADA input, he said, which would create a state estimator that is almost entirely redundant to the EMS SCADA. Because state-estimator data underpins so much of what PJM does, “even a very marginal improvement in the state estimation improves a whole plethora of other services,” he said.
First, however, resources must be allocated to foundational research, such as simulator training and model validation.
“To buy your roll of the dice [and] get your shot at the really high-value, real-time [applications], you’ve got to do these lower quadrants,” he explained.
For example, PJM has installed some synchrophasor-related applications in its control room, but they aren’t supported well and operators haven’t been trained effectively on how to use them. Nice’s group is developing a simulator for oscillation detection that will interact with trainees like “Choose Your Own Adventure” children’s books. Trainees will be presented with a situation and given options to respond. The simulator will provide feedback on the consequences of the trainee’s decision, along with the next decision to make. It’s a “deeper cut of training than we’ve ever been able to pull off before with this information,” Nice said.
Oscillation detection is important to prevent major system imbalances, but oscillations are very difficult to identify because they can happen between any two points. “This new technology is agnostic about points A and B and just searches for oscillations everywhere,” Nice said.
While the technology is exciting for system operators, stakeholders were concerned about what such critical advances might mean for industry standards and compliance requirements.
Exelon’s Ken Braerman asked if and when Nice expected synchrophasor information to become operationally critical and for his prediction on how many compliance standards would be promulgated affected individual stakeholders.
“We are hyper-sensitive to these issues, and right now we do not consider synchrophasor applications to be NERC or Critical Infrastructure Protection standards-critical,” Nice said. “You can live without this, but it’s good data to have. Right now, we don’t know when we cross that threshold that you can’t live without this.”
Countdown to GridEx
GridEx, NERC’s biennial grid-resilience exercise, is scheduled for Nov. 15 and 16, PJM’s LeRoy Bunyon said. This year’s exercise will focus on cyber and physical attacks that degrade bulk-power system operations.
Of particular interest will be the “cyber kill chain,” which creates a multilayered defense against online attacks. Bunyon said it helps to determine how deep hackers have infiltrated once their presence is identified: “Have they picked the lock? Have they opened the door? Are they in your kitchen? Are they carrying the safe out the door?”
The event organizers will gather lessons learned and develop a report for senior leadership.
– Rory D. Sweeney