Substation Equipment Testing Best Practices

Comrent is providing solutions for mission-critical power testing infrastructure.

When you integrate best practices for substation equipment testing, you can leverage many benefits. Proven testing techniques help you improve reliability, availability, and efficiency of the primary and backup power supply systems at utility substation facilities.Testing takes places at different levels during the substation commissioning process. The scope of the substation equipment testing project depends on the critical nature of the equipment installed and the effect of downtime on the facility owner’s business.The following list provides some important best practices to consider for substation equipment testing projects:

Use load banks instead of the power grid for substation equipment Operators must test new utility facilities before they go live. Putting the substation into operation verifies everything is working correctly. You can identify any issues and fix them before they impact availability.

Deploying load banks instead of using the existing power grid for substation commissioning can improve testing accuracy by controlling critical voltage, current, and load parameters. These advantages create an opportunity to lower overall commissioning costs.

  • Perform substation equipment testing at each critical point. After you verify individual system components, such as controllers and connections, you should test the system as a whole. You can apply a load where the system is designed to see it under normal operating conditions. For high voltage utility-scale systems, you want to deliver enough load for current sensors to operate. This practice allows you to test protective relays and communications.
  • Use substation equipment testing to reach a maximum of “seven-nines” of downtime each year.Availability standards continue to increase, growing from “five-nines” in the 1990s to “seven-nines” today. “Seven-nines,” or 0.9999999 availability, equals three seconds of downtime annually. As a substation operator, you want to reduce the risk of customer downtime and provide the highest levels of functionality possible. Load bank testing helps you accomplish this goal.
  • Develop a formal maintenance and testing program after substation commissioning. The results from your commissioning project can provide a benchmark for evaluating equipment performance going forward. The quality of your maintenance testing program directly correlates to failure frequency.

IEEE conducted an extensive study on the reliability of electrical equipment used in utility and industrial applications. The survey asked each participant to give his or her opinion regarding the quality of the facility’s maintenance efforts. The results showed maintenance quality had a significant effect on the percentage of failures blamed on “inadequate maintenance.” Specifically, the study attributed 16.4% of all failures to maintenance issues.

  • Use published reference material to develop inspection, and maintenance practices. The valuable material you should consider includes:
  • IEEE Gold Book -- Design of Reliable Industrial and Commercial Power Systems, utility practice of system coordination studies (IEEE 1547.7)
  • NFPA® 70B -- Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance. Provides accurate information on how to set up a maintenance program.
  • ANSI/NETA -- Standard for Maintenance Testing Specifications for Electrical Power Equipment and Systems
  • Partner with an experienced professional for your substation equipment testing. A load bank expert can help you design the test, integrate testing into the project plan, plan to test all subsystems that will affect the performance of the electric power system, and use innovations in load testing that produce actionable information and confidence in the results.

Comrent’s team of load bank experts is ready to help ensure your system is successfully interconnected. We have supported commissioning wind turbines, solar components, excitation systems, and voltage regulators for large generators, transformer and substation components, and emergency or backup generators for nuclear power plants.For transmission and distribution networks, Comrent has provided load packages for substation commissioning tests up to 230kV. We offer a complimentary consultation to review your project and propose the right load bank solution for your requirements. Contact us today.

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