In industrialized countries, distribution systems deliver electricity literally everywhere, taking power generated at many locations and delivering it to end users. Generation, transmission, and distribution—of these three big components of the electricity infrastructure, the distribution system gets the least attention. Yet, it is often the most critical component in terms of its effect on reliability and quality of service, cost of electricity, and aesthetic (mainly visual) impacts on society.
Like much of the electric utility industry, several political, economic, and technical changes are pressuring the way distribution systems are built and operated. Deregulation has increased pressures on electric power utilities to cut costs and has focused emphasis on reliability and quality of electric service. The great fear of deregulation is that service will suffer because of cost cutting. Regulators and utility consumers are paying considerable attention to reliability and quality.
Another change that is brewing is the introduction of distributed generation on the distribution system. Generators at the distribution level can cause problems (and have benefits if properly applied). New loads such as plug-in vehicles may be on the horizon. Customers are pressing for lower costs, better reliability, and lesser visual impacts from utility distribution systems. Deregulation and technical changes increase the need by utility engineers for better information. This book helps fill some of those needs in the area of electric distribution systems. The first few chapters of the book focus on equipment-oriented information and applications such as choosing transformer connections, sizing and placing capacitors, and setting regulators.
The middle portion of this handbook contains many sections targeting reliability and power quality. The performance of the distribution system determines greater than 90% of the reliability of service to customers (the high-voltage transmission and generation system determines the rest). If performance is increased, it will have to be done on the distribution system. Near the end, we tackle lightning protection, grounding, and safety. Safety is a very important consideration in the design, operation, and maintenance of distribution facilities. The last chapter on distributed generation provides information to help utilities avoid problems caused by the introduction of distributed generation. I hope you find useful information in this book.
If it is not in here, hopefully one of the many bibliographic references will lead you to what you are looking for. Please feel free to email me feedback on this book including errors, comments, or new sources of information. Also, if you need my help with any interesting research opportunities, I would love to hear from you. Thanks to Power Technologies, Inc., for opportunities and mentoring during my early career with the help of several talented, helpful engineers, including Jim Burke, Phil Barker, Dave Smith, Jim Stewart, and John Anderson. Over the years, several clients have also educated me in many ways; two that stand out are Ron Ammon (Keyspan, retired) and Clay Burns (National Grid).
Now with EPRI in a collaborative research environment, many utility engineers—too many to name—have helped guide projects and educate me. During the Green Circuits project, Ron Belvin (Duke Energy) and Don Parker (Alabama Power) were great supporters. I’ve enjoyed working with Marcia Eblen on arc flash. As a side-note, I would like to recognize the efforts of line workers in the electric power industry. These folks do the real work of building the lines and keeping the power on. As a tribute to them, a trailer at the end of each chapter reveals a bit of the lineman’s character and point of view.
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