Undervoltage Load Shedding

Author: Charles Mozina, Consultant, Beckwith Electric Co., Inc.

This paper discusses why voltage as well as frequency load shedding may be necessary to prevent major system blackouts. Investigations of recent blackouts [1,3,7] indicate that the root cause of almost all of these major power system disturbances is voltage collapse rather than the underfrequency conditions prevalent in the blackouts of the 1960 and '70s. This paper explores the nature of recent power system blackouts (2003 east coast, 1996 California and others) and explains why voltage collapse is the leading edge indicator of impending power system problems. It also discusses the design and security issues that need to be addressed in the design of an undervoltage load shedding (UVLS) scheme and why relying on underfrequency load shedding (UFLS) may be "too little, too late." The paper addresses the current level of UVLS on utility systems as well as current NERC (North American Electric Reliability Council) pronouncements on the subject.

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