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EUROCON 2007 The International Conference on Computer as a Tool Warsaw, September 9-12

Blackout Prevention
and Power System Self-Restoration
Dr.habil.sc.ing. Jekabs Barkans, Mg.sc.ing.Diana Zalostiba
Riga Technical University, the Institute of Power Engineering, Riga, Latvia, e-mail: diana@eef.rtu.lv

Abstract Blackouts of power systems occur in emergency outage of a thermal power station occurred,
transmission networks (TNs) as the result of dangerous which resulted in damage of a 1000MW turbine [1].
emergency overloading. These are followed by cascade Cascade processes develop very fast, with a speed that
tripping of transmission lines and power plants and, finally, exceeds many times the capability of personnel to
by collapse of a power system. Since the known automatic perceive the situation and think it over. As a result, people
emergency protection means are insufficiently universal, the can interfere in the process only in the post-emergency
authors propose an additional simple and reliable tool that stage in order to restore the operating condition. Therefore
would allow for turning off such a collapse, with fast self- for the power systems it is necessary to have emergency
restoration of normal operating condition within only ~ 100 protection automatics whose role would be to prevent the
beginning of a cascade process and its progress.
Keywords blackout prevention, island formation, power
system restoration, synchronization II. THE PROCESSES CAUSING COLLAPSE OF A PS AND THE

I. INTRODUCTION A. Initiation of a cascade process in the course of PS

A cascade-type emergency causing a power system blackout
(PS) blackout is a problem of great concern. Such When analyzing the proceeding of major blackouts [1]-
emergency extends over large territories, leaving without [7] we have revealed that, at the emergency beginning, the
electricity hundreds of thousands or even millions line overloading with active power flows that owes to the
consumers creating serious disturbance of national fault of an important element gives rise to a cascade
economy activities and inflicting heavy losses on it as well process and a blackout of the power system (see Fig. 1).
as bringing the threat to the equipment. Thus, for example,
during the energy collapse of 1965 in the USA the

Fig. 1. Stages of a power system blackout

1-4244-0813-X/07/$20.00 2007 IEEE. 1547

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The process is expressed as follows. The voltage avalanche of a load center, which occurs at
Large-scale tripping of the lines resulting from local load centers in the cases when the reactive power
ground faults, with remaining damage inflicted by source equivalent to the node possesses a negative
sagging of the line wires; voltage dependence of reactive power (the power
decreases with decreasing voltage). The reactive power
Large-scale tripping of the generators from balance in the node is stabilized by the load shedding
overloading protection caused by the transit automatics responding to indicators of a voltage fall.
voltage avalanche;
The accompanying voltage avalanche, which takes
Large-scale tripping of the load caused by the place simultaneously with the frequency fall in the
transit voltage avalanche. active-power-deficient part of a power system, with this
Such cascade processes are the main cause of outages part separating in the emergency order. The voltage fall
of power plants in the stage of emergency beginning, is in this case limited by the operation of load shedding
before the loss of stability occurs. automatics [LSA] simultaneously with the frequency
stabilization. Obviously, this should be insensitive to
B. Large-scale tripping of the lines the voltage deviations.
With overloading, the temperature of wires increases, The transit voltage avalanche, which establishes when
which can become even higher when the weather is hot the voltage is decreasing along the transmission
and sunny. In turn, with the temperature of wires network transit as the result of its emergency
increasing their sagging becomes greater. As the distance overloading. Such an avalanche spreads to a wide
to ground decreases the wires turn out to be laying on it territory where many generating stations are operating.
thus causing ground faults. A large-scale tripping of the
lines starts, at which the faults remain and the automatic 2) Transit voltage avalanche
re-closing [ARC] is unsuccessful. Avalanches of the kind are especially dangerous in the
cases when in the operating lines, owing to their
Thermal (the right quadrant) and mechanical (the left emergency overloading, a voltage fall in the TL transit
quadrant) processes in the line wires are illustrated in Fig. occurs, with disconnection of parallel lines and re-
2, where the wire temperature is shown with accounting
distribution of active power flows. As a result, with the
for the air temperature ta (gray and black curves) and the
increase in the transversal component of voltage drop
distance to ground h (given in meters) [6, 8, 9]. The values
of current are related to the allowable ones. A flashover U=(PX/U) , and, simultaneously, the decrease in the
occurs before the wires have reached the ground. reactive power losses Q=(P2X/U2), there arise
additional reactive power flows and increase in the
C. Transit voltage avalanche and its impact on the longitudinal component of voltage drop U=(QX/U).
systems functioning After that, on the power receiving side the voltage can
drop by 15-20% (see Fig. 3), where P1 and U1 are
1) Types of the voltage avalanche allowable values while P2 corresponds to the overloading
The voltage avalanches are stationary emergency and U2 has reached the emergency level.
operating conditions at which the voltage considerably
decreases [10]. Three types of the voltage avalanche can
be distinguished:

ground tw conductors temperature, oC (2)



3 1
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 0 0.4 0.8
Im1.2 1.6 2.0 2.4 2.8
h distance to ground, m (3) I/Im overload, r.u. (1)

Fig. 2. Nomogram of the overload, the conductors temperature and the distance to ground
(the rated voltage Unom=750kV; allowable current I nom=860A at conductor temperature tm=70 C; conductor type - steel aluminum AC-4x400/93)


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On the other hand, the voltage drop affects the load. It
is known that low voltage causes changes in consumption
in compliance with static characteristics of the load. In
addition, since a significant portion of the load is
connected through magnetic starters, these latter begin
disconnect in quantities, and the corresponding load is
lost. However, the load required for operation of thermal
stations should be not less than 40% of the rated capacity
of operating equipment. Therefore the load tripping can be
a serious obstacle to the operation of generating stations
thus promoting the disruption of the operating condition.
From the mentioned above it is clear that the technical
measures meant for avoidance of cascade processes must
be urgently realized, with the main purpose to keep the
lines and power plants in operation. Otherwise the loss of
stability and the separation of a power system in most
disadvantageous places and with serious complications are
inevitable. The measures should be radical, as daring and
simple as possible, directed to the liquidation of the line
overloading. If the maximum possible number of
generating stations is being kept in operation the parts of a
Fig. 3. Schematic representation of a voltage avalanche power system will be reconnected automatically within
3) Large-scale tripping of generators few seconds.
On the one hand the voltage instantaneously drops, in D. Restoration of the normal work of a power system
an avalanche-wise way, to the values to which the
excitation regulators of generators at the nearby The restoration of PS functioning can proceed in two
generating stations respond by increasing the excitation ways:
current above the rated values. with personnel involvement, or
According to the Potier diagram, the excitation current by self-restoration, without personnel
is [11]: participation.
In the former case, after a severe cascade emergency
( a (U U 0 ) + k I r ) + ( k I a )2 ,
I ex = (1) against which no universal means exist, the restoration of
a power system is complicated owing to the absence of
where a and k are constants depending on the design voltage in large territories. The operations for which
parameters of a generator, electric energy sources are required cannot be performed.
Ia, Ir are the active and reactive currents of the For the power stations to resume operation it is necessary
generators stator, relative units; to start the technological processes that consume a
relatively large power for their auxiliaries services. If in
U, U0 are relatively the voltage on stator terminals and a
the process of a power systems blackout there occurred
constant by means of which the characteristic curve of the
separation of some regions with formation of islands
magnetization of a generators excitation system is
where generating stations are still under operation, from
approximated, relative units;
these stations energy is supplied to the idle-standing
At the constant active power the generators receive a stations putting them into operation step-by-step. In total,
large reactive power: to restore the functioning of a power system
approximately two days are needed.
( EU )2 ( Pk )2 U 2 Based on the analysis and their own experience the
Q , (2)
k authors can state that, using advanced and well-thought-
over anti-emergency automatics, it is possible to avoid a
where P is the generator active power, relative units; blackout in a PS, with the emergency elimination within
E is the variable electromotive force and U is the about two minutes without personnel participation.
voltage on the generator terminals, relative units. In this
case E and U change in the opposite directions and the III. CONDITIONS OF OVERLOAD APPEARANCE AND THEIR
reactive power of the generators becomes maximally high. CONTROL
Taking into consideration that the described situation
corresponds not to a transient process but to a stationary A. Conditions of dangerous overload appearance
condition, there is a long run excess of the stator and Analysis of the blackouts that occurred in the world
excitation currents over the rated values. As a result, the evidences that dangerous overloads often arise in the cases
overloading protection of generators operate (that is, when the (n-1) principle is neglected. It should be
protection against external damage), followed by their provided that the power flows are limited in such a
switching off. Along with that a large-scale outages of manner that at tripping of one element the network is not
power plants in the low voltage zone occurs thus causing a overloaded. There are cases when in an emergency
PS blackout. process several elements are tripped. Then for two
4) Large-scale load tripping elements the condition becomes (n-2) (and so on).


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Fig. 4. The structural scheme of events

The structural scheme of Fig. 4 shows different

situations of the kind. Fig. 5. Dosed matrices

The probability of coincidence in time for two

independent events is relatively low, therefore in practice C. Control doses
it is not taken into account when the problem of limiting The optimal control doses in the normal operating
the power flows is concerned, since otherwise the carrying condition are fixed in the memory of the mathematical
capacity of lines would be used far too insufficiently. model, but during an emergency they must be realized as
The damage can be remaining, A, or transient, B. This fast as possible. This can be ensured by using a logic
latter has the easiest consequences. If there is a signal instantaneous operation channel which fixes a
considerable time interval between disconnections, then in particular disconnection. Such a logic signal produces an
the time between the first and the second disconnections it appropriate dose and the address of its realization from the
is possible to repeat the (n-1) analysis under new model memory. For the logic signal to operate a special
circumstances, and no emergency will start; otherwise a high-frequency or a satellite channel should be used.
cascade emergency could be expected.
It is natural that for fast analysis of an emergency a
real-time mathematical model should be used, with
involvement of analytic programs for normal and
emergency operating conditions [7, 8]. A. The measures to be taken to avert a collapse
These measures should be taken in definite operating
B. A real-time mathematical model conditions of a power system:
The model consists of the following components (most in normal operating conditions, which are protected
of them already existing [2, 7, 12]): from emergency situations by proper safety measures;
1. a program for estimation of the situation, including pre-emergency operating conditions, which are set in
the elimination of the measurement error; the cases when there is disconnection of an important
2. a program for determination of operating condition element indicating an overload although a dangerous
worsening; the program defines the flows that are emergency has not yet started;
maximum allowable for realizing the (n-1) principle; emergency operating conditions, when dangerous
3. a program for instructions, which gives verbal emergency processes have already begun.
instructions to the personnel under normal and pre- In turn, the measures to be applied for the control of
emergency operating conditions these operating conditions can be divided as follows (see
4. a program for simulation, which fixes the control Fig. 6):
dozes for each of the possible emergency organizational measures, connected with the personnel
disconnections in order not to allow the initiation of a activities, in compliance with the written or electronic
cascade emergency. The control doses are stored in instructions. Such instructions should be corresponding
the models memory in the form of matrices to the operation speed of a person and to the choice
containing the degree of complexity of the initial limitations. In order to raise the reliability, the
operating condition and its discrete changes. To each execution of instructions can be made partly automatic.
initial scheme its own dosed matrix corresponds (see In the normal operating condition they are used in a
(see Fig. 5). routine way, whereas in the pre-emergency condition
the programs are needed that would issue instructions
for urgent actions under changed circumstances;
technical measures that are unavoidable in the
emergency operating conditions, when the events
develop too fast to be controlled with the personnel
operational speed, so a collapse can be averted only by


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fast-acting means not requiring personnel participation. TABLE I.
The personnel can be involved in the process at the
post-emergency stage only. It should be noted that the Power sources at the load centers
use of technical measures for limitation of power flows 1 2 3 4 5
increases the carrying capacity of PS cross-section. 11 12 13 14 15
B. Organizational measures (Fig. 6) 2 21 22 ... ... ...

The power flows in dangerous cross-sections, when 3 31 ... ... ... ...
acting up on the load of power stations under normal
operating conditions, are continuously controlled and 4 41 ... ... ... ...
limited. The extent of power flow limitation depends on 5 51 ... ... ... ...
the topology of transmission network.
In the case when the TN cross-section consisting of
parallel lines has a radial structure, the power flow should The columns of the table in which the power or its
not exceed the value changes are inputted correspond to the load centers, and
its rows to the power lines. In the intersections,
P = Ptr .k / n , (3) distribution coefficients ij are written, where i stands for
the power lines and j for the power sources. Thus, for
In this expression n is the number of lines in a network example, at 35=0.4 through line 3 a 40% portion of
fragment; active power P5 or its change P5 is flowing, with the
k is the number of still operating lines , (k/n<1); power in this line changing by 0.4P5.
Ptr is the allowable power flow in transit lines. As concerns a loop-wise network, the power flow
Thus, for example, if the NT cross-section consists of limitations are determined there by all the lines of
two lines and one of them is disconnected the power flow dangerous cross-section, where one should take into
should be equal to a half of the allowable value account possible equalizing flows and mutual influence of
(P=1/2Ptr). If the network fragment contains three different cross-sections. Besides, the limitations in one
parallel lines, then disconnecting one of them we will dangerous cross-section can influence those in other cross-
have a power flow reduced by up to two thirds sections. In practice, for determination of power
(P=2/3Ptr). This means that, from reasons of the carrying distribution coefficients one should use a mathematical
capacity of wires, the power flow through dangerous model of the operating condition in a PS functioning in
network cross-sections should be smaller than the real time.
allowable. If the power flow limitations are observed, the
If a transit possesses a loop-wise topology, then for the disconnection of one element would not cause a cascade
power flow in the still operating part of a PS emergency, however, in this case there will be worsening
approximately defined coefficients exist, which show in the operating condition which will then correspond to a
what portion of the power to be received from the load pre-emergency operating condition. Such being the case,
centers is flowing through a corresponding line. The urgent organizational measures should be taken, using
coefficients can form a matrix whose members are instructions or the data obtained with the help of a real-
arranged in the d.c. configuration of the network time mathematical model.

Fig. 6. The break-down of anti-emergency measures depending on the PS operating conditions


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A major technical and economic problem is reactor are also functioning against backpressure and their
enlargement of the carrying capacity in dangerous TN peculiarities are similar to those of feeding pumps. Under
cross-sections. If for elimination of a cascade emergency the conditions of frequency drop the circulation slows
automatic means are used, then, by providing conditions down, which hinders quenching the active zone and leads
for their faultless operation, we can partly take off the to forced decline in the output of generating stations
power flow limitations as compared with the TN carrying followed by inevitable impact on the power balance.
capacity under normal operating conditions. The response of gas turbines to the frequency changes
is determined by the output of the compressor on a
C. Technical measures (Fig. 6) turbines spindle. The compressor supplies air under
The only possibility to prevent the development of a pressure into a combustion chamber and for the cooling of
cascade emergency is a timely elimination of the line turbine blades. At the increasing frequency the
overloading. This could be achieved by using fast- compressor output also decreases, with the combustion
operating preventive automatics devised for this purpose. product temperature rising. In order not to exceed the
The overloading can be avoided by reducing the power allowable temperature the turbines must be off-loaded,
generation on the output side of the dangerous cross- which, in turn, affects the frequency. This should be taken
section or by reducing the load on its receiving side. into account when estimating the sizes of automatic load
Fast generation decrease can be achieved by switching shedding. In particular cases, under emergency conditions
off the functioning generators or realizing a forced load the turbines are switched off which promotes collapse.
relief of turbines at the generating stations. Taking into 2) Automatic elimination of a frequency avalanche
account that the hydro power plants are in operation only and restoration of normal operating conditions
for a short time and that the operation of nuclear plants To avoid a collapse, the frequency is to be kept for a
should not be disturbed if possible, the tripping usually short time in a zone that is acceptable for generating
concerns the condensation thermal plants if they are stations to maintain their work. This can be achieved by
situated close to the lines to be off-loaded. For example, if means of the fast-acting under-frequency load shedding
the line off-loading should be P, for the electric plants it automatics [AUFLS1] (V) which disconnects the
is (1/) P. This means that at =0.35, the off-loading consumer lines at the frequency reaching setting values.
for electric plants should be 2.85P, which is often This allows for recovery of the power balance and
problematic. maintenance of the frequency in order to avoid rejection
For a load relief of a dangerous cross-section of feeding pumps. The automatics has the minimum time
employing the means related to the power receiving side it settings (0.5-0.1s) and various frequency settings, and,
is possible to put into operation reserve generators, which owing to the inertial time constant, at comparatively small
would be switched on and take load within several deficits (up to 25-30%) the selectivity of load shedding
minutes (for their starting and synchronization), which is will be ensured.
effective in the case when in a TN there is not an
emergency but a pre-emergency operating condition. In
the opposite case it is necessary to shed the load exploiting
the central channel; however, in this case the power
at ng

proportioning task will not be carried out.

o m zi
ut li
A oca

For the cases when it is difficult to use the mentioned


tools, the authors propose a new universal means a

preventive short-term sectioning of a power system.
To obtain greater insight into this approach one more
type of cascade emergency that of frequency avalanche
should be considered.
D. Frequency emergency and the means for its Fig. 7. A simplified scheme of automatic operation under emergency
prevention conditions (V AUFLS1; VI AUFLS2; VII synchronization;IX re-
closing of previously disconnected lines; 5 reduced frequency)
A frequency emergency takes place at separation of the
power deficient regions of PS. At larger deficits the selectivity cannot completely be
ensured any more, but it is not especially important at
1) Response of generating stations to a frequency occasional emergency events, since the disconnection of
avalanche consumers lines is only short-term.
The response of generating stations on a frequency drop
The AUFLS1 action is followed by short-term reduced
is mainly determined by the peculiarities of the feeding
frequency (Fig. 7, (5)). A long-term operation with
pumps working against backpressure used for the boilers.
reduced frequency unfavorably influences the electric
The output of these pumps depends on the turns of motors.
machines, makes the operating conditions labile and is
If the turning (the rotational speed) of electric motors
dangerous since the power balance can be violated again
slows down by 10% the yield decreases to the extent
under the conditions of reduced generating capacities.
dictated by the pressure drop in the boilers followed by
their switching off by the means of technological It is known that the electric machines working to the
protection, the outage of generating stations and the grid possess a definite relationship between the induction
collapse of the deficient part of power system. and voltage (emf) of magnetic field, which reads:
The frequency decline affects also the operating U
condition of nuclear plants. The circulation pumps of a B= , (4)
2 f kw w s


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where f is the frequency, Hz; E. Short-term preventive sectioning
kw is the coefficient characterizing the winding design; Separation of a deficient region leads to a frequency
w is the number of winding turns; decrease there, while in a power system part with
s is the core cross-section, m2. excessive power the load shedding occurs. The proposed
approach of short-term preventive sectioning allows for
Therefore, the induction of the cores is directly load relief in the overloaded line.
proportional to the voltage and inversely proportional to
the frequency. With increasing voltage the cores of For this purpose, under normal condition the region
electric machines become overexcited, and their magnetic should be watched that receives energy via dangerous
permeability (=B/H). Taking into account that the cross-sections of a TN, and, if necessary, to preventively
reluctance of the cores is inversely proportional to the separate it for a short time at preliminarily defined optimal
places. The restoration of normal functioning proceeds
magnetic permeability (Rmagn=c/), the leakage field
following the mentioned algorithm (see Fig. 9).
grows, which causes overheating of massive design
elements. These circumstances are taken into account by In the deficient region the off-loading will take place,
limiting the existence time for reduced frequency (Fig. 8), up to the complete frequency recovery, the
which is performed automatically. Otherwise it would be synchronization of the separated power system parts, and
necessary to employ special protection devices with the re-closing of consumers lines after about 100 s. In such a
response time depending on the integral values of voltage way the emergency will be eliminated.
and frequency deviations: t1=f1(U) and t2=f2(f). As a result, the dangerous overloading will be
In order to reset the frequency to the normal level an eliminated and the lines will keep operation with
additional disconnection of consumers is done using allowable load. In such a way it is possible to avert a
automatic stages of slow automatic under frequency load cascade lines disconnection owing to their stable damage,
shedding [AUFLSII] with delays of few seconds, (VI), large-scale tripping of generating stations caused by
which by means of the process control elements perform overloading of the generators at reduced voltages and
in turn retiming the failure setting at the normal frequency tripping of the boilers caused by load disappearance as
level thus ensuring that there is feedback. Then automatic well as stability loss followed by spontaneous division of
reconnection of the power systems parts, (VII), occurs a power system into parts.
with the help of the devices for synchro-monitoring
available all over the lines. After that the re-closing of the V. CONCLUSIONS
automatically controlled consumers line, (IX), is done. 1. Cascade emergencies causing blackouts of PS occur
The duration of the self-restoration is approximately 100s, as a consequence of overload in transmission lines at
which is determined by the time of AUFLSII operation. disconnection of major PS elements. The only way to
The load is usually restored within 10-15 minutes after the avert such an emergency is fast-acting automatic load
connection of magnetic circuit-breakers at the consumers. shedding in a line using the centralized preventive load
Therefore for the cases of frequency emergency a relief system.
reliable self-restoration principle has been created to be
used for localization and liquidation of heavy cascade
blackouts [13,14]. VIII
z in s 6
c a li a tic
Lo tom
Re omat

sto ics



3 IX

2 Co o r
I nd ma
ent tics

iti l

Pr oma


Fig. 9. The operation scheme of protection automatics (I static stability

control; II dynamic stability control; III preventive short-term
isolating of the deficient region; IV automatics for interrupting out-of-
step operation; V AUFLS1; VI AUFLS2; VII synchronization; VIII
line disconnection at voltage rise indications; IX re-closing of
previously disconnected lines; 1 static stability faults; 2 dynamic
stability faults; 3 out-of-step operation; 4 frequency drop
Fig. 8. Time limits of core overexcitation avalanche; 5 reduced frequency; 6 voltage rise avalanche)


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2. If possible, for the load relief the tripping of [3] State of New York Investigation, Report on the New York City
generators or fast-acting off-loading of turbines on the Blackout July 13, 1977, January 1978
receiving side of TN cross-section; on the output side this [4] UCTE, Final Report of the Investigation Committee on the 28
September 2003 Blackout in Italy, April 2004 (http://
can be done with the help of a central channel. The
www.ucte.org/pdf/News/20040427_UCTE_IC_Final_report. pdf)
mentioned means are often unavailable or difficult to
[5] RTE, A4 Annex 4: Major Incidents throughout the World, 2004
proportionate. (http://www.rte-
3. For self-elimination of a frequency avalanche france.com/htm/an/mediatheque/telecharge/memento_surete_2004
emergency within ~ 100s without personnel participation /memento_surete_2004_annexe4__.pdf)
simple techniques have been developed and used, whose [6] J.Barkans and D.Zalostiba, New Principles of Power System
effectiveness is proved by long-term operation. They can Protection against Collapse in the Present Stage of Development,
Latvian Journal of Physics and Tehnical Sciences. Latvia, vol. 3,
be used for protection against power system collapse, by pp. 3-22, 2006.
preventive short-term separation of a power system region [7] S.Sovalov, Anti-emergency Control in Power Systems Moscow:
towards which the TL overloading power flows. Energoatomizdat, 1988 (in Russian).
[8] A.Zalessky, Electrical Power Transmission Moscow:
ACKNOWLEDGMENT Gosenergoizdat, 1948 (in Russian).
This work has been partly supported by the European [9] A.Vanags, Electrical Networks and Systems Riga: RTU, 2002
(in Latvian).
Social Fund within the National Programme, in the
framework of the project Support for the development of [10] J.Barkan, Automatization of the Operating Conditions by Voltage
and Reactive Power, Moscow: Energoatomizdat, 1984 (in
doctoral and post-doctoral studies at Riga Technical Russian).
University. [11] J.Barkan and L.Orehov, Automatization of Power Systems,
Moscow: Vysshaya shkola, 1981.
REFERENCES [12] B.Iofyev, Automatic Emergency Power Control in Energy
[1] The Federal Power Commission, Report to the President on the Systems Moscow: Energia, 1974 (in Russian).
Power Failure in the Northeastern united States and the Province [13] J.Barkan, N.Markushevych, R.Rudzitis, V.Golubev, Frequency-
of Ontario on November 9-10, 1965 Activated Load Shedding as an Automatic Anti-Emergency
[2] U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task Force, Final Report on Means, Elektrycheskye Stancii (Electric Power Stations), vol.5,
the August 14, 2003 Blackout in the United States and Canada, 1966 (in Russian).
April 2004 (www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/media/docs/final/ [14] J.Barkans, J.Vasylyevs, Patent LV13341 B: Operational Method
finalrep_e.htm ) of Automatic Equipment to Prevent the Power System in Case of
Emergency, Latvia, 2005.


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