Reliability is essential to the functionality of an electric power grid. This principle guarantees that a constant qualitative and quantitative supply of electric power is flowing from a provider to businesses, homes and more. It’s what enables electric power to drive life forward in modern society.

As a result, there’s reason to be concerned about events that threaten the reliability of the power grid. Those events include misoperations. As explained by the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC), a misoperation of a protection system throws a Bulk Electric System (BES) into a less reliable state. Such an event can then produce transmission outages and/or affect the grid’s broader reliability.

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Of course, the scale of disruption and its subsequent impact on the grid varies from one event to another. As it explained in its “Electric Reliability Organization Event Analysis Process Version 3.1” report, for instance, NERC revealed that a “Category 1” event could result in the misoperation of a BES or an unintended loss of generation of up to 1,999 megawatts. On the other end of the spectrum, a “Category 5” event could cause an unintended loss of generation of 10,000 megawatts or more.

That begs the question: what’s causing misoperations in U.S. electric organizations? And what can these entities do to address these?

Understanding the Sources of Misoperations

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) helped to illuminate the cause of misoperations in its annual report for 2019. This publication referenced the 2019 State of Reliability, a study which found that protection system misoperations had continued a downward trend initiated five years prior. The downward slide had persisted despite the fact that misoperations had been slightly higher in 2018 than 2017 at 8.0% compared to 7.4%, respectively.

NERC took its investigation a step further (Read more...)