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Situational Awareness, a fundamental capability for a reliable grid

image credit: Courtesy ISONE, NYISO
Siavash Jamal's picture
Advanced Grid Operation Technology Grid Outlook

A skillful, seasoned, and result oriented entrepreneur, consultant, solution provider, team builder, and business developer, for advanced grid management, utility Operation Technology, and smart...

  • Member since 2019
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  • Aug 23, 2019

This item is part of the Special Issue - 2019-09 - Distributed Energy Resources, click here for more

The 21st century electric power grid is a dynamic, active, bidirectional, intermittent one, with thousands of new components, in both generation and load sides. There are also components that can behave both as load and generation, like battery storage and V2G (Vehicle to the Grid) storage.

Reliability is one of the main objectives for such a modern electric power grid. An essential capability to achieve reliability is Situational Awareness. (A capability is the ability to execute a specific course of action or set of qualities. DOE-OE Modern Distribution Grid Report)

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Situational Awareness invokes the ability to make the grid behave as desired within the bounds of grid capability and gives operational visibility into (DOE-OE Modern Distribution Grid Report):

  • Grid measurements
  • Events
  • Proactive continues forecasts for all grid conditions, like overload, over-generation and congestion
  • Normal operation states
  • Criteria violations
  • Equipment failures
  • Customer outages
  • Cybersecurity events

Situational Awareness capability comprises many different operational business processes (business functions):

  • Observability: Operational visibility of the grid and integrated DER. Such visibility data can also be utilized to validate planning models.


  •  Integration of grid maintenance planning and grid operation: Assessments of the impacts of planned maintenance outages, system reconfigurations and other changes to the distribution system and related operations for planned and unplanned work.


  • Holding a comprehensive grid model: In both distribution and transmission grids. In case of transmission level, a deep simulation including protection systems can bring a great deal of predictions, planing and being ready for different operational conditions.


  • Realization of standard comprehensive Transmission-Distribution interface: T-D interface and coordination functions are carried out to avoid detrimental effects on local distribution systems and regional transmission systems by coordinating power flows between the transmission operator and DSOs. This can be an interface like GLDPM



  • Steady-State Volt-Var Management: The DSO manages steady-state voltage, in bigger than a minute intervals, including voltage limit violation relief, reduced voltage variability, compensating reactive power. The same management shall happen in larger scale at the transmission level.


  • DER Operational Control: DER operational control is the real-time direct or indirect control or coordination of DERs through manual or automated control actions, in order to optimize network operations and to maintain the reliability of the system, and to avoid congestion.

Each of the explained business functions are based on different set of activities that enables them, and at the end gives us a set of features we need in modern grid management system to empower the utility with the reliability objective. The elements for implementation of the operation business processes will be explained in the future articles.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 23, 2019

Some great insights here, thanks Siavash. How 'situationally aware' would you grade the current U.S. grid system today?

Siavash Jamal's picture
Siavash Jamal on Aug 27, 2019

Thanks Matt. Depending on the grid level and the utiliy, there are different level of SA in the system. It also depned on how the utility grid is penetrated by the DER and smart grid or distributeed intelligence is ncessary and deployed. In the west coast we seems to have better awareness, due to the grid needs, recenlty losts of efforts in the NYISO and ISO NE regiones, and vertically integrated utilities like Duke energy. Anyhow, the answer greatly depneds on the location and the grid level.

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