EnergyLines November 2016

Training for a transmission shutdown

It’s the situation that no control operator wants to begin their shift enduring: a Black Start – the procedure to recover from a total or partial shutdown of the transmission system. This entails isolated power stations being started individually and gradually being reconnected to each other in order to form an interconnected system again.


The scenario: It’s 10 degrees outside in southern Indiana on a gloomy winter morning. As all states experience below-freezing temperatures, the load level is extremely high and the electric grid is under great stress.


This situation was posed to electric utilities as part of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s (MISO) annual Power System Restoration (PSR) drill with electric companies across the country.


Blackouts typically occur during high load levels, often during extreme weather conditions, sometimes with little warning. Preparation and planning takes place when systems are operating normal, which is why MISO performs this drill between the summer and winter peak months.


This drill helps Hoosier Energy system operators strengthen relationships with other electric utilities as the drill encourages control centers to work together. The drill allows system operators to talk through the scenario with system control training facilitators prior to taking action in order to ensure the best plan of action.


“I think it speaks volumes of our system control supervisors that they see this drill as an opportunity to improve even the finer points of their positions,” said Stan Elmore, Hoosier Energy’s System Control Coordinator for Operations and Training.


The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has a requirement for system operators to complete training such as this to retain their NERC certification. The two-day PSR drill is a significant aspect of this requirement.


KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON: Monitoring a Black Start scenario, posed by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, is (from left to right) System Operations Engineer Todd Taft; System Control Supervisor James Stultz; Worthington and Lawrence Plant Manager Bob Vandeburg. Standing is System Control Specialist David Hamm.


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