Turning the Crank: Standards Rush to Keep Up

Turning the Crank

When I first became involved with the IEEE working groups on power-quality standards in 1994, IEEE had just published 519 1992, Recommended Practice and Requirements for Harmonic Control in Electric Power Systems. (The next published revision of that much-used and misused document did not occur until 2014.) That standard was followed in 1995 by IEEE Std. 1159, Recommended Practice for Monitoring Electric Power Quality, with a published revision in 2009. It was instrumental in defining the PQ terms and procedures used in both benchmark and troubleshooting applications, though revisions took more than a decade.

The electric-utility-grid landscape wasn’t changing nearly as quickly then as it has since the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) was made law in 2007. It opened access to the grid for other energy suppliers, as is common today with photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, cogeneration plants and other distributed energy resources. But the loads connected to the electrical supply were rapidly changing with adjustable speed drives, lower-energy luminaires and the rapid deployment of information technology equipment, such as computers, printers, and modems/routers. Waiting 10 or more years for the next revision of the standards was just not going to cut it.

Even before the EISA, the U.S. Department of Energy—through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)—challenged the IEEE at the turn of the century to come up with an interconnected standard that would allow such interconnects of alternative-electrical-energy sources. In a fraction of the “typical” standard development time, the working group developed, balloted and published IEEE Std. 1547, Standard for Interconnecting Distributed Resources for Electric Power Systems, in 2003. This document continues to evolve, with eight subsections added to address other aspects, including measurements and limits on power-quality phenomena injected into the grid by power sources.

The push to get more documents published to address other PQ aspects besides those in IEEE 519 and IEEE 1159 took on the challenge that the IEEE 1547 working groups met. The next revision of IEEE 1159 is in the ballot process, addressing the changes in monitoring practices.

IEEE Std. 1250 2011, Guide for Identifying and Improving Voltage Quality in Power Systems, provided a long-awaited revision to the 1995 version and is in ballot for the next revision. It focuses on becoming the “first stop” document for those wanting to learn about the electric-power system, the loads it powers, how loads interact and affect power quality, and possible solutions for improvement.

Voltage fluctuations that resulted in light flicker were addressed in IEEE Std. 1453, Recommended Practice for the Analysis of Fluctuating Installations on Power System, in 2011, followed quickly by 1453.1 in 2012 and a 2015 revision addressing new topics, such as rapid voltage changes and limits.

IEEE Std. 1546 2014, Guide for Voltage Sag Indices, provides producers and consumers a means to compare voltage sags from individual locations or entire systems as a quality metric and a basis for what is expected if one operates a facility in a particular location. Revisions to IEEE Std. 1159.3 2003, Recommended Practice for the Transfer of Power Quality Data (known in the industry as PQDIF), also are going to ballot, expanding the document as it is adopted by more users, instrument manufacturers, and even regulatory agencies throughout the world.

Under the jurisdiction of the IEEE PES T&D Committee but not the Power Quality Subcommittee, the Stray and Contact Voltage Working Group also has a number of members that participate in the PQ subcommittee working groups. The group had an initial charter to produce a trial use guide to address the variety of publicly and privately accessible voltages resulting from the delivery and use of electrical energy, creating necessary definitions and discussing causes, impacts, testing techniques, and mitigation. Balloted and published in 2016, the IEEE Std. 1695, Guide to Understanding, Diagnosing, and Mitigating Stray and Contact Voltages, helps dispel misinformation about this topic and enhance public safety, with the disclaimer that it “is not intended for use as a statement of cause and effect.”

Another forthcoming relevant non-PQ document deserves mention. Working Group 1889 is in the balloting stages of this new document, “Guide for Evaluating and Testing the Electrical Performance of Energy Saving Devices.” This guide will provide consumers and vendors of energy-saving devices (ESDs) as well as utilities, with instructions for the measurement protocol of all the electrical quantities that are needed in determining the performance characteristics of ESDs. This area has seen some unsubstantiated claims of “saving money” that defy the laws of physics in some cases. Like the other standards, it will help the uneducated become educated.

The pace has picked up in the past 10 years, as the various working groups continue to crank out new and updated standards to keep up with the electrically changing environment.

About the Author

Richard P. Bingham

Power Quality Columnist
Richard P. Bingham, a contributing editor for power quality, can be reached at 732.287.3680.

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