- Grid Modernization Planning & Design
Instead of reviewing only the problem area of a circuit, integrated distribution planning calls for the review of big picture data related to the circuit, its assets and surrounding system. Our team applied a holistic advanced planning process to Entergy's Grid Modernization Strategy. Power flow, reliability, failure risk, protection, coordination and operational efficiency are considered together, and projects are developed to address multiple suboptimal conditions simultaneously. The intent is to use system model data and asset data together to make the most efficient use of the limited capital resources available each year and apply it to sustainable change.
In this case, our team began by reviewing the utility’s current engineering design and operating standards, and recommending updates that would better align with Entergy’s long-range goals and address future customer demands.
A detailed engineering and asset analysis was conducted across more than 10 percent of its circuits to examine the design, performance, age and health of each. Using state-of-the-art mobile technology and GIS tools, inspectors first went into the field to validate system data and asset health and collect data on 64 pilot circuits. The data was compiled in a geospatial asset database, along with all other system and asset data, which we used to conduct power flow simulations and other tests to assess system performance, asset trends and risk modeling. The findings of this analysis were used to identify projects to improve circuit performance, enable system flexibility and resiliency, and decrease overall system failure risk.
In one instance, for example, engineers conducting a traditional load flow analysis identified a voltage stability problem that might typically be addressed by adding a phase and associated conductor to a long lateral segment. Further holistic study of the circuit, however, indicated that the same circuit segment is at very high risk of “vegetation events” — trees falling on the lines — and consists of significantly aged assets due for replacement.
The analysis found that adding rerouting or resiliency to address the vegetation and aged asset renewal through a single project would add marginal cost to the already identified project, but would make a significant difference for overall performance and risk.
Later phases of the project will focus on refining the method for efficiently identifying and prioritizing these holistic projects based on the engineering analysis, modernized standards, areas of risk and application of new technologies, and then applying it to a larger population (10 percent) of Entergy’s system. We are also developing a road map for institutionalizing the new planning framework, including processes, data and tools to enable Entergy personnel to continue to develop and implement these sustainable projects on a recurring planning cycle.
Upon completion of the planning process, we began distribution design for the first three Grid Mod projects, including inspecting nearly 100 miles of 25-kV distribution circuits and preparing construction packages for 83 existing and seven new circuits. Construction packages include proposed layout of upgraded facilities, job construction sketches, design data entry into Entergy’s Graphic Design Tool, Distribution Information System and Pole Foreman software applications, bill of materials, and work request creation.
- Distribution engineering
- Distribution modeling
- Field data acquisition
- Geospatial data hosting, organization and visualization
- Process engineering
- Program management
- Quality control