Smart-grid sensor software brings industry closer to predictive grids



Tollgrade Communications, a leading provider of predictive fault analytics for electric utilities and broadband providers, announced the availability of the latest version of their LightHouse Sensor Management System (SMS) software with predictive grid analytics. The software works with their inductively powered medium voltage smart grid sensors that provide visibility throughout the distribution network. By providing four layers of analytical processing, the software accurately detects and classifies faults that cause outages in real-time for example, permanent faults on main feeders and blown fuses on laterals. This enables utilities to pinpoint the outage location and perform restoration faster because they know more about the fault and what equipment is required to repair it. For example, in two very large deployments in North America, the solution is detecting blown fuses on laterals 20 - 30 minutes before customers call to report the outage. All events are linked to map-view displays that make it easy for utilities to pinpoint the locations of problems for quick response and resolution. "We need a paradigm shift in the way we think about the grid to successfully improve reliability. With Tollgrade LightHouse sensors, we can affordably inject intelligence where we need it the most - the distribution grid where most faults that cause outages occur," said Edward H. Kennedy, President and CEO, Tollgrade Communications, Inc. "By having a library of fault events, outage detection and load planning data all in one software package, utilities can have the intelligence they need to restore outages faster today, and one day predict future problems before they cause outages on the distribution network." "Our increasingly digital economy is driving higher and higher reliability requirements for the electric grid. It's imperative that we make the necessary grid modernization upgrades required to ensure a safe and reliable supply of energy," said Becky Harrison, CEO Gridwise Alliance. "Improving situational awareness and grid intelligence are essential components of these grid modernization upgrades and are required to strengthen this nation's electric grid for the demands of the 21st century." Unlike other offerings Tollgrade's Lighthouse inductively powered Medium Voltage Sensors can increase the situational awareness throughout the distribution network and are offered as a single, affordable integrated solution including analytics, communications and a bundled five year data plan is included with one of their cellular sensor models. Tollgrade Predictive Grid? Analytics Tollgrade's LightHouse smart grid sensors are deployed on the medium voltage grid at the substation and throughout the circuit to monitor real-time grid conditions and measure fault current. When fault current is detected, waveforms of the event are captured along with some background information (e.g. temperature, GPS location, time) which is communicated over a wireless or cellular network back to the LightHouse SMS software. The software conducts four layers of analysis on the information to build a strong foundation for grid intelligence: • Layer 1: Event Capture • Layer 2: Event Classification • Layer 3: Trending, Planning and Reporting • Layer 4: Predictive Grid Analytics The LightHouse SMS software classifies faults and disturbances that do not cause immediate outages in an effort to build intelligence about what might cause a power failure in the future. For example, incidents like momentaries or line disturbances are categorized and can be filtered to show trends across a circuit or during certain times of the year. A recent study by EPRI found that US power quality events cost US companies $24 billion a year. By using the analyzed data in the LightHouse system, utilities can mine this intelligence to learn how they might be able to prevent future outages. Once new cases are determined, the software is easily configurable to set-up alerts when these new conditions arise. Tollgrade is presented as the only solution currently that takes smart grid sensor data through four layers of analysis to build a foundation for predictive grid analytics. This is required to improve overall accuracy and effectiveness. For example, in head-to-head field trials, older generation Fault Current Indicators (FCIs) generated as many as four false alarms to every true outage event confirmed by Tollgrade. This is important because utilities want to integrate the data from smart grid sensors and FCIs with other back-end systems such as Data Historians, Outage Management Systems, and Distribution Management Systems. Tollgrade offers the advantage that as the LightHouse SMS software "hands-off" this data, it can be trusted. Tollgrade