Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

EPTD Smart Grid Program(21085)

Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation


Contractor believes that a comprehensive, cost effective, and sustainable upgrade program for its aging distribution protection and control schemes is critical to maintain high levels of reliability and performance for customers. In particular, intelligent communicating protection and control systems are required for safe and reliable operation of the power distribution network with high penetration of renewable distributed energy resources (DER), and/or with micro-grid distribution systems. Existing National Grid substation protection and control infrastructure is mostly electromechanical and is not compatible with Smart Grid initiatives in National Grid or New York State programs.

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Project Description

The project will define a unified utility-wide standard architecture, design, and specification for advanced distribution protective relaying, automation, and control (PAC) functions based on IEC 61850 interoperable communications operating over optical Ethernet station bus and process bus networks. The work includes development of a long range roadmap where architecture and design specifications will align. The work includes review of existing distribution protection and automation design methodologies to incorporate elements of existing practices, organizations, and prior operating experience as appropriate in specifying the new design. This project will gather design and specification elements from parallel National Grid and industry transmission PAC projects appropriate for use in distribution substations. The PAC design will be embodied in an efficiently-deployed format for economical and sustainable replacement, including factory assembled drop-in control buildings where feasible. Interactions with equipment vendors through a formal Request for Information (RFI) process, evaluation of results, and development of the business case will create the foundation for a demonstration project in late 2011.


• The new Protection Automation Control (PAC) design is a fundamental component in any plan to deploy distributed renewable or other energy generation resources at any penetration level above a few percent of system or feeder load. • Design focuses on safe protection and control in the face of energy storage components such as battery systems on distribution feeders or in distribution substations. • Design will provide for safe substation system behavior in the face of operating islands and microgrids. • Design supports the deployment of renewable energy resources on distribution systems at high levels of penetration that are not feasible with most of today’s installations. • As utilities implement distribution equipment capacity reductions in consideration of local generation, the condition monitoring and adaptive protection capabilities of the new PAC system will reduce potential operating problems and equipment failures. • A successful study and deployment, well publicized by the project investigators through technical papers and industry forums, will provide design equity for other utilities in New York and the region, as well as attracting constructive industry attention and project visits.

Project Results


Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation
d/b/a National Grid 300 Erie Boulevard West
Syracuse, NY 13202

Principle Investigator

Sal Kutub

Universities Involved


Project Type:

Research Study

Technologies Types:

Electric Power Delivery

NYSERDA Contact Information

Gregory Pedrick


R&D -Transport & Power Systems

Contract Details

Start Date: 2/9/2012 1
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: 21085

Last Updated: 5/7/2012 1