Real-Time Synchrophasor Technology Furthers March Toward Smart Grid

MISO, the regional transmission organization responsible for maintaining reliable transmission of power in 15 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba, recently became one of the first grid operators in North America to use new synchrophasor technology for real-time system monitoring and analysis. This is a major milestone in furthering the U.S. Department of Energy’s goal of revitalizing the nation’s electric grid through the use of sophisticated, innovative monitoring devices, a critical element of building a smarter grid.

Synchrophasor technologies are now using phasor measurement units (PMUs) to collect data from more than 344 MISO installed devices, 30 times per second. In comparison, traditional technology records measurements every four seconds. The data is GPS time-stamped, enabling measurements from different locations to be time-synchronized and combined to create a detailed, comprehensive wide-area assessment of system conditions. With this data, MISO can better detect, diagnose and prevent system disruptions; in effect, it can create 
a smarter grid.

Smart grid generally refers to a class of technologies, including synchrophasors, being used to bring utility electricity delivery systems into the 21st century, using computer-based remote control and automation. These systems are made possible by two-way communication technology and computer processing that has been used for decades in other industries. They are beginning to be used on electricity networks, from the power plants and wind farms all the way to the electrical consumers in homes and businesses. They offer many benefits to utilities and consumers, mostly seen in large improvements in reliability and energy efficiencies.

Synchrophasors at MISO are providing immediate value by enhancing the ability to simulate and troubleshoot the bulk power system, bringing a new level of situational awareness to their grid operators. With synchrophasors, MISO’s system operators now view vital voltage and current measurements at any one of hundreds of strategic points along the interconnected transmission network at a level that was previously impossible to reach.

In 2010, MISO was among 100 recipients of a Department of Energy Smart Grid Investment Grant award. MISO received a $17.25 million grant to fund the development and deployment of PMUs as part of the DOE’s effort to modernize the power grid and lead the industry in use and installation of the devices.

About the Author

Mike Breslin

Freelance Writer

Mike Breslin is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He has 30-years experience writing for newspapers, magazines, multimedia and video production companies with concentration on business, energy, environmental and technical subjects. Mike is...

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