Premium power technologies put to test

American Electric Power (AEP) and Siemens Power Transmission & Distribution have been awarded a contract by EPRI to test whether new technologies are able to improve power quality at a reasonable cost for customers in an industrial park.

As computers and other electronics are now essential to manufacturing and business applications, voltage sags and spikes, and the production downtime they create have become a concern. Premium power park technologies are designed to compensate for typical erratic power delivery and to protect sensitive electronic and electrical devices. The concept requires integration within a utility`s distribution system of several state-of-the-art power quality devices that previously have been used only as stand-alone pieces of equipment. (see sidebar)

During the two-year experiment, an existing industrial park in Delaware, Ohio, will be retrofitted and converted into a premium power park designed to supply customers with high-quality power.

The park is home to 11 industrial companies representing manufacturing, warehousing, data processing and assembly functions. Four of the industrial customers (PPG Industries, Willamette Industries, The Nippert Co. and Acoust-a-Fiber), representing approximately 70 percent of the load, already have agreed to participate in the project.

The research team will measure improvements in the park`s power quality and reliability, as well as determine the customers` degree of satisfaction with the new system. The cost benefits of serving multiple customers` power quality needs will be evaluated.

In a recent EPRI survey of 750 industrial and commercial customers across the country, 40 percent of the respondents experienced power quality problems. Thirty-eight percent of those customers were willing to pay more than their current rates for power quality solutions.

“What makes this project unique is that it`s the first time that multiple power quality technologies, utilizing a communications network between the devices, will be integrated into one plan and system. It also allows us to demonstrate that we can adapt existing systems with new technology,” said Harry Vollkommer, AEP`s project co-manager.

Premium power technologies

– Distribution Static Compensator (DSTATCOM): shields the effects of sudden customer load changes causing voltage sag and surge problems to other customers served from the same power system;

– Dynamic Voltage Restorer (DVR): restores the voltage quality delivered to an end-use customer when the source-side voltage deviates. During a voltage sag, the subcycle response of the DVR supplies what is missing in the voltage waveform, so the customer`s sensitive load sees a restored nominal voltage;

– Solid-State Breaker (SSB): fast-acting, subcycle breaker that can inst- antaneously operate to clear an electrical fault from the power system;

– Medium-Voltage Subcycle Transfer Switch (SSTS): provides power quality and reliability to customers served radially via two separate power sources by switching between the preferred electrical source and an alternate source in less than one-sixtieth of a second;

– Transportable Battery Energy Storage (TBESS): functions either as a current source for power management applications such as peak shaving of system load, or as a voltage source for power quality applications to mitigate the effects of voltage surges, sags or interruptions; and

– Static VAr Compensator (SVC): the IntelliVAr system is an advanced Static VAr Compensator, using a series of capacitors, an inductor, and a set of solid-state switches to provide dynamic power factor correction or voltage reduction. In a power factor correction mode, various combinations of reactive power (i.e., VArs) are added during each electrical cycle to maintain a certain power factor across the load. Likewise, in a voltage regulation mode, various combinations of reactive power are added during each cycle to maintain nominal line voltage at the customer load.

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