Electric utilities across Canada are looking forward to significant technical and business efforts to rebuild and renew electric systems, while also incorporating leading edge technology to meet changing societal expectations around renewables.
Within substations, the push for renewal is represented by the IEC 61850 standard which has been gaining ground in North America. SaskPower has been at the forefront of adopting this technology in automating substation applications with an in-house developed multivendor approach since 2014.
The change in technology required development of new standards starting from the representation of design documents, engineering, operating standards, to asset management standards. It has been recognized that besides the changes in technology, a significant change was also represented by the training and expertise development of engineers, operators, and maintenance staff. In partnership with Innovation Saskatchewan and the University of Regina, SaskPower has established training courses where staff impacted by the change had the opportunity to learn.
Engineering solutions and designs have been developed taking into consideration established operating practices and procedures to ease transition to the new technology.
With the adoption of the standard for all new installations, the implementation of the new technology within SaskPower has been very successful, including the elimination of auxiliary relaying, and complete move to fiber optic cable-based substation automation communications. Currently there are over 50 substations in SaskPower using the IEC 61850 (GOOSE/MMS) standard, with all new installations based on this standard going forward. The experience so far indicates that the new systems are reliable, multi-vendor interoperable, and they deliver the value and operations flexibility expected.