Distribution Automation: Westar Improves Reliability, Conserves Energy
Investor-owned Westar Energy wanted to improve their system reliability and reduce energy losses. A Department of Energy (DOE) grant provided the utility with the opportunity to pilot smart grid technology in their system, which resulted in their participation in a three-year SmartStar DOE project in Lawrence, Kansas.
The distribution automation (DA) portion of the project included automating key functions in 20 circuits across Westar’s distribution network. If successful, the plan was to then deploy DA technology in the remaining 1,318 circuits in order to maximize reliability and achieve additional savings.
Westar’s primary system goals were to:
- Improve electric service reliability.
- Minimize distribution system losses.
- Reduce outage restoration times.
- Improve service to customers.
Customer: Westar Energy
Location: Topeka, Kansas
Application: Distribution Automation
Founded in 1910, Westar Energy is the largest electric energy provider in Kansas, serving nearly 700,000 customers in the eastern portion of the state. Headquartered in Topeka, Westar employs about 2,400 people and generates more than 7,000 megawatts of electricity.
By adding automated fault location, isolation, and service restoration (FLISR) as well as voltage and reactive power (volt/VAR) control provided by the SEL Distribution Network Automation (DNA) system, Westar Energy accomplished their goal of improving system reliability and reducing system losses. The DNA system’s ability to interface with existing equipment by using various protocols was central to making the implementation cost-effective. The system also seamlessly interfaces with Westar’s existing energy management system, making the transition easy for system operators.
The Lawrence area is benefiting from improved system reliability and reduced system losses, resulting in a win-win for Westar Energy and its customers. To date, the system has successfully handled multiple faults and performed automated reconfiguration on four permanent fault events. This has resulted in generated savings of approximately 210,000 customer minutes interrupted (CMIs). Additionally, Westar is benefiting from improved system operating efficiency and reduced system losses.