Power engineering is the oldest and most traditional of the various areas within electrical engineering, yet no other facet of modern technology is currently undergoing a more dramatic revolution in technology or business structure. Perhaps the most fundamental change taking place in the electric utility industry is the move toward a quantitative basis for the management of service reliability. Traditionally, electric utilities achieved satisfactory customer service quality through the use of more or less “one size fits all situations” standards and criteria that experience had shown would lead to no more than an acceptable level of trouble on their system.
Tried and true, these methods succeeded in achieving acceptable service quality. But evolving industry requirements changed the relevance of these methods in two ways. First, the needs of modern electric energy consumers changed. Even into the early 1980s, very short (less than 10 second) interruptions of power had minimal impact on most consumers. Then, utilities routinely performed field switching of feeders in the early morning hours, creating 10-second interruptions of power flow that most consumers would not even notice. But where the synchronous-motor alarm clocks of the 1960s and 1970s would just fall a few seconds behind during such interruptions, modern digital clocks, microelectronic equipment and computers cease working altogether.
Homeowners of the 1970s woke up the next morning not even knowing or caring that their alarm clocks were a few seconds behind.Homeowners today wake up minutes or hours late, to blinking digital displays throughout their home. In this and in many other ways, the widespread use of digital equipment and automated processes has redefined the term “acceptable service quality” and has particularly increased the importance of interruption frequency as a measure of utility performance.
Second, while the traditional standards-driven paradigm did achieve satisfactory service quality in most cases, it did not do so at the lowest possible cost.In addition, it had no mechanism for achieving reliability targets in a demonstrated least-cost manner.As a result, in the late 20th century, electric utility management, public utility regulators, and energy consumers alike realized there had to be a more economically effective way to achieve satisfactory reliability levels of electric service.
This was to engineer the system to provide the type of reliability needed at the lowest possible cost, creating a need for rigorous, quantitative reliability analysis and engineering methods techniques capable of “engineering reliability into a system” in the same way that capacity or voltage regulation targets had traditionally been targeted and designed to. Many people throughout the industry contributed to the development of what are today the accepted methods of reliability analysis and predictive design. But none contributed as much to either theory, or practice, as Richard Brown. His work is the foundation of modern power distribution reliability engineering.
It is therefore with great pride that I welcome this book as the newest addition to the CRC Press series on Power Engineering. This is all the more rewarding to me because for the past decade Richard Brown has been one of my most trusted coworkers and research collaborators, and a good friend. Dr. Brown’s book lays out the rules and structure for modern power distribution reliability engineering in a rigorous yet accessible manner. While scrupulously correct in theory and mathematics, his book provides a wealth of practical experience and useful knowledge that can be applied by any electric power engineer to improve power distribution reliability performance.
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