EVALUATING THE EVOLVING DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM

Distribution Planning and Analysis

Over recent years, the electrical distribution system in the U.S. has evolved significantly from the electrical distribution system of the past. Traditionally, the power flow has started at large scale, centralized generation connected at high voltage, transferred through the transmission system, then the distribution system to deliver power to the loads.

There has been a shift from traditional large-scale generation to the addition of large-scale renewable plants, and now to small scale distribution connected, distributed energy resources (DER). Today’s distribution system often includes small-scale wind and solar generation from communities, houses and businesses and is operated and maintained through smart devices – things which were unheard of in the distribution system just a few short years ago. The growing penetration and number of DER has reversed the direction of the traditional power flow and introduced new unexpected challenges on the distribution system, resulting in the need for new distribution regulations and detailed planning studies.

Pair this evolutionary nature of the distribution system with the aging workforce of those in the electric utility industry, and it’s easy to see it could be hard to keep up!

There are various aspects that need to be studied on the distribution system; the required studies fall into the following categories: power flow studies, power quality studies, and dynamic studies.