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Seeking Advice on Improving Management of Planning Transmission Outages

Firstly, please see the following client PROFILE, then below INVESTIGATION for some requests for advice.

PROFILE OF POWER TRANSMISSION NETWORK OPERATOR

Our client operates a government owned  electrical power transmission network and has an Outage Management Process (OMP), which they are moving forward to:

  • reduce the labour intensive activities;
  • introduce efficiencies to reduce emails & paperwork, for information workflow;
  • update to align with improved industry methods and current world’s best practice.

The focus is on transmission network outage planning.

Our client will be implementing Sun-Net (USA) TOA and iTOA software, as part of a new IT platform to at least replace their existing processing of Applications for Work (AFW); Switching Instructions and other pre-field work preparation activities. How the capabilities of Sun-Net may be able to and eventually fit across broader activities of the entire OMP is not yet fully understood.

The following are some of the challenges currently encountered:

  • Transparency of various work activities.
  • Conflicting schedules being planned.
  • Complexity of the process.
  • Governance (adherence) of the process.
  • Balancing network operations versus market considerations.
  • Setting work priorities.
  • Managing conflicts of interest between stakeholders (regulators; generators; customers).
  • Securing the reliability of the network, to the satisfaction of the Regulator.

The client operates a long distance mostly radial transmission network with numerous spur connected power generators (thermal; hydro; gas & rapidly growing renewable (PV & wind) etc.) and numerous spur connected industrial and other consumers. There is very minimal meshing of alternative power feed directions, which results in little to no alternatives when spur connections are planned for outage.

Under current operating rules, our client is currently constrained by the need to request approvals and report outages to the Regulator, at least 14 months in advance of the work.

We are focussed on systems for pro-active planning i.e. planning before outage, not systems that manage un-planned power blackouts (their location and customer call management etc. such as associated with Distribution utilities). They do require the ability for external stakeholders such as generators & distribution companies to input data associated with their external outages, such that it allows the client to avoid any clashes that would compromise the network security.

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INVESTIGATION

Can you please help with my investigation looking at industry strategies, methodologies; technology and innovation, to improve their current process of planning and initiating outages. This includes areas such as software platform/s to handle the workflow of planning; scheduling; conflict resolution; approval; commitments & priorities; changes and system roll-out. This also includes, interaction with stakeholders (regulatory authorities; generators; customers and others) and rescheduling/replanning when impacted by un-planned outages. The impacts of increased renewable generation intermittency is part of the focus. So too, are network options to mitigate network availability, such as mobile substitution plant, system by-passes or other work-arounds, to allow more flexibility to maintain power availability and hence system reliability.

I would appreciate any comments you can provide, relating to the above topic.

Please also refer to the below questions and request for comment in specific areas. If you are in a position to be able, or are comfortable to respond, any comments will be of great assistance.

OUTAGE MANAGEMENT PROCEDURE

A1.   Referring to the above challenges in the PROFILE, please describe methods – if any – you have adopted, to improve your historical outage management performance.

A2.   If any, please describe any methods currently being considered, or recently implemented, to improve your future outage management performance.

 SOFTWARE

It is not the intention to either promote or denigrate any particular product, so please be mindful of constructive comment when considering the following:

There seems to be some very good developments in Outage Management System (OMS) software. It would be very helpful to obtain feedback of user experience with these.

B1.   Does your organisation operate OMS software and if so: What software is it? Does it span your entire outage planning workflow process? How has this performed for improvements; efficiency; process simplification etc.?

B2.   Are you aware of, or have you had any experience with any software packages, including Versify (USA); OATI (USA) or Sun-Net TOA & iTOA (USA) or other software?  

 INDUSTRY GROUPS

C1.   Has your organisation had involvement with industry groups or other organisations, to consult on topics of outage planning / benchmarking / world’s best practice? If so, what organisations/groups are they? If so, what are some of the key outcomes or benefits to your business?

 GENERATORS

For the following, can you please distinguish between Renewable / Non-Renewable Generators.

D1.   How does your organisation interact with generators, to obtain their disclosure of planned operational activities, to coordinate transmission network outages? Is this market sensitive disclosure, where confidentiality is a high priority?

INTERACTION WITH MAJOR CUSTOMERS & DISTRIBUTION UTILITIES

E1.   How does your organisation interact with these customers (consumers), to coordinate outages?

MARKET VERSUS OPERATIONAL MANAGEMENT CONSTRAINTS

F1.   How does your organisation manage the balance between network required plant outage, versus market sensitivities of affected stakeholders?

INTERACTION WITH REGULATORY AUTHORITY

G1.  What is your organisations outage notification lead-time with Regulatory Authorities?

G2.  How do you manage any network plant emergency return to service constraints/timeframes (if any), enforced by your Regulatory Authority?

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

H1.  Has your organisation made any innovation, or adopted any technology (other than software), to improve or enhance managing outages?

Examples of Innovation may be mobile/temporary plant; live line work; network by-passes.

Technology may include types of advanced relays.

FUTURE DIRECTION

I1.   How do you see outage management planning evolving in the future?

Any comment here can include regulation/deregulation; ownership of infrastructure & renewables, new technologies, the Internet of Things (IoT) and so on, but not be limited to these.

I thank you for any comment you can provide.

Best Regards,

Nigel Musso.

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