BASIC STEPS IN SOLVING POWER QUALITY PROBLEMS

Monday, April 25, 2011

Steps in solving power quality problems usually include interaction between the utility supply system and the customer facility. This is because power quality problems have different causes that can be traced from both the utility and the end-users. Consequently, different solutions are available in order to improve the power quality and equipment performance. The problem solving process should also consider whether the assessment involves an existing power quality problem or one that could result from a new design or from proposed alterations to the system.

The basic steps in solving power quality problems involve the following:
Steps in Solving Power Quality Problems
Steps in Solving Power Quality Problems (Courtesy of Electrical Power Systems Quality)

1.     Identify the power quality problem

This is very important since this will be the basis for the solutions to be considered. Knowledge of the different power quality problems will surely come in handy (i.e. voltage sag/swell, interruptions, harmonics, etc.).

2.     Power Quality Problem Characterization

This step in solving power quality problems includes data gathering and measurements. Measurement is the primary method of characterizing the problem or the existing system that is being evaluated. In addition, it is essential to record impacts of the power quality variations at the same time when carrying out the measurements - so that problems can be easily correlated with the possible causes. Power Quality Analyzers and Meters play a vital role in this part.

3.     Identify and propose solutions to the PQ problem

Power quality solutions are identified at all levels of the system from the utility (transmission and distribution level) down to the end-user equipment being affected. This step shall include looking at equipment ride-through capability and power quality mitigating devices.

4.     Evaluate the proposed solutions

Proposed solutions are then evaluated based on both the technical and economic aspects. Limitations are also considered in this step. Power quality problem solutions are first evaluated and screened technically to determine their feasibility. Then, only the remaining viable alternatives are compared on an economic basis.

5.     Optimal Solution

Basically, the solution/s that can solve the power quality problem/s present in the facility with the least cost is the optimal solution. In short, it is the most cost-effective alternative. It will depend on the number of end-users being affected, type of power quality problem and the possible solutions.

Reference:
Dugan, R., McGranaghan, M., Santoso, S., and Beaty, H.W. (2004). Electrical Power Systems Quality (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill

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I am an Electrical Engineer with a Masters Degree in Business Administration. My interest is in Power Quality, Diagnostic Testing and Protective Relaying. I have been working in an electric distribution utility for more than a decade. I handle PQ studies, power system analysis, diagnostic testing, protective relaying and capital budgeting for company projects.