NorthernGrid is a U.S. transmission planning association launched in 2020 to coordinate regional planning across the Pacific Northwest and intermountain states. NorthernGrid is a 13-member association consisting of FERC-jurisdictional utility companies, a nonprofit federal power marketing administration, public utility districts and municipalities located in California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Client Study Needs
As one of the Western Interconnection’s transmission planning organizations, NorthernGrid is facilitating compliance with FERC Order No. 1000. NorthernGrid members selected the Northwest Power Pool (NWPP) as project coordinator for this effort; in turn, NWPP brought on PSC to provide strong technical support and analysis capabilities due to the high workload and shortened schedule during the first planning cycle. PSC coordinated extensively with both the NWPP and NorthernGrid members to ensure needs were met.
Study needs included helping meet FERC Order No. 1000 regional and interregional planning obligations to ensure the appropriate analysis was performed in assessing a diverse group of system conditions and potential project additions within and adjacent to the NorthernGrid footprint. Ensuring topological consistency and accurate visualization of the 1,000+ contingencies across 608 base cases submitted for evaluation proved an interesting opportunity.
PSC programmed automation tools and documented means and methods to automatically bring the members’ transmission projects into the base-cases and modify the statuses to match requested status-combinations, creating a total of 608 solved steady-state load-flow cases. The 1,000+ contingencies were run on all 608 base-cases, resulting in more than 608,000 steady-state simulations. Contingency violations were monitored and aggregated across all of those study cases and contingencies.
PSC created processes and tools to handle four circumstances:
- A process to create hundreds of base-cases without introducing human errors
- A tool to compare “N” load flow case topologies directly, in an interactive display. (This tool was offered to Western Electricity Coordination Council, WECC, and the tool is now actively in-use by multiple electrical utilities in the western interconnection.)
- An interactive tool to count contingency violations across all 608 base-cases, then aggregate by regional combination or PCM scenario, and apply ranking factors to each violation
- A tool to interactively filter and aggregate system losses on all equipment in the 608 base-cases, which drew on an Excel Data Model containing 18 million values, to categorize and rank the contingency results of potential projects and combinations. This greatly helped NorthernGrid identify which project combinations best met the member needs.
Because of PSC consultants’ experience with planning regional transmission projects, specifically in the western region, and because of our capabilities in developing interactive data models and power systems data dashboards, we were brought on to perform complex studies and develop means to quickly identify how combinations of transmission projects performed against one another in support of NWPP’s work to help the NorthernGrid membership identify the best path forward.
We extensively used PowerWorld Simulator, Python and pyinstaller, and advanced MS Excel tools to deliver this project.