New project to crack open advanced grid capabilities for members

Great River Energy and its member-owner cooperatives will separate two major combined operating systems in 2018: the energy management system (EMS) and the distribution management system (DMS).

The project will offer cybersecurity benefits, increase system performance and create flexibility for member-owner cooperatives to make some database and display changes in the DMS. While the primary drivers of the project are a needed hardware refresh, ongoing concerns about cybersecurity and the progression of reliability standards, the project also will open up exciting possibilities for member-owner cooperatives who wish to take advantage of the latest technology innovations.

“Once the EMS and DMS systems are separated, members will be able to purchase a growing number of smart grid applications that can be added to the DMS,” said Dick Pursley, Great River Energy’s manager of system operations.

Among these potential smart grid applications are fault location, isolation and service restoration (FLISR), which is an example of distribution automation. FLISR involves multiple systems and technologies that work together to automate power restoration, reducing both the impact and length of power interruptions.

FLISR applications can reduce the number of members impacted by a fault by automatically isolating the problem area and restoring service to remaining members by transferring them to adjacent circuits.

“This is a prime example of Great River Energy and its members modernizing our grid,” Pursley said. “It will be up to each member to decide whether or not they want to add advanced applications, but the end game is that our members will have options they didn’t have before.”

An EMS is primarily used for controlling transmission and generation system operations. A DMS is primarily used for controlling distribution system operations. An advanced DMS is one of Great River Energy’s pillars of grid modernization technology. The project is scheduled to be completed in late 2018 to early 2019.