The City of Rock Hill in South Carolina has used a grant from American Public Power Association’s Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments (DEED) program to help make fault detection more visible to repair crews and thereby improve reliability and reduce the duration of electrical outages for customers.
The project aimed to improve outage restoration times using smart overhead and underground fault indicators to communicate and integrate with the utility’s Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Outage Management (OMS) systems.
Fault data was already being sent to the SCADA system, but Rock Hill’s dispatchers and field technicians did not have a visual representation of the faults. The City applied for and was awarded a DEED grant to develop an OMS integration module.
The module allows the SCADA integration of the fault indicators to be displayed on the OMS map viewer whenever the server has indicated a fault has been detected by a device in the power network.
The project was designed to address two problems. First, service personnel would spend the first part of a call trying to pinpoint the location of a fault, draining financial resources and dragging out restoration times.
The second problem was a lack of real-time mapping of system strengths and weaknesses that could be used to identify areas where there are repeated outages and faults. That information can be used to target resources for improvement. Without real-time data, the utility said it is not able to make as many preventative decisions that benefit the long-term success of its electrical system.
Under the Fault & Load Indicator Technology Integration Project, Rock Hill was able to develop a software module through dataVoice, its OMS vendor, to integrate the information provided from smart fault indicators on the V3 outage map.
System status indicators was delivered from the SCADA to the OMS system with location and unique identifiers imported via GIS Publisher and is made available in the dataVoice’s mobile application.
The original termination date of the grant award was July 1, 2021, but the original fault indicators failed to perform to expectations, delaying progress for one year.
New technologies were explored, tested, and one was selected for implementation during the last two quarters of 2021. The equipment was installed during the first quarter of 2022.
A contract was signed with dataVoice in January 2022 and a kick-off meeting was held in March 2022 to initiate the software integration. During software testing, Rock Hill discovered malfunctions that dataVoice corrected, and the project was implemented and completed in June.
The completed project enables data from field sensors to communicate with a SCADA system which relays the information to an OMS system in a way that provides users with a visual representation of faults and outages.
The completed application reduces the complexity of information from the OMS by giving a direct visual representation of what kind of fault is occurring and the approximate location on the line based on the locations of the sensors. Rock Hill said.
The overall cost of the project was $154,401 of which the City of Rock Hill contributed about $129,066 and the DEED grant provided $25,335.
The project is applicable to all utilities as we share the same goal, to improve customer satisfaction by reducing the duration of outages by adapting the latest technology, Rock Hill said in its final DEED report.
As a next step, the City of Rock Hill said it plans to train its dispatchers and field technicians to use of the software. The utility also intends to budget a reoccurring $40,000 each year for the purchase of additional sets of smart overhead and underground smart fault sensors.
The City of Rock Hill offers electric, water, and wastewater utilities to its customers. It distributes electric power to approximately 32,000 residential and 8,000 commercial and industrial customers in the greater Rock Hill area.