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Intelligent Switching
and Reclosing Solutions

Make the most of your energy

Due to the
importance of
electricity in
the everyday life
of people
electricity providers are under pressure to improve
the reliability of supply to their customers. Providers
have a number of options available to improve
supply reliability.

Table of contents


Feeder segmentation..............................................................6

Remotely controllable switches...........................................8

Sectionalizing switchgear....................................................10

Recloser systems.................................................................... 12

Feeder Automation................................................................ 16

Example cost analysis........................................................... 20



To achieve the goals of improved system reliability, electric distribution companies may have many options to
evaluate, these could include:

Additional primary substations Underground circuits

To a large degree, the likelihood of a fault is In theory, an option that eliminates overhead sources
proportional to the length of a distribution circuit of faults would be to place circuits underground.
the longer the circuit, the greater the probability This would remove any weather or vermin-related
of a fault. faults and improve reliability and win favor with
environmental lobby groups. The use of trenchless
While, it is possible to reduce the number of
or narrow trench technology can significantly reduce
customers that are affected by a fault by installing
cost. However, considering the feeding distances
additional substations. However, the cost of locating,
involved, the cost would still be astronomical.
installing and commissioning a new substation can
be very expensive. A significant redesign of networks would also be
required, as the typical overhead circuit (with very
Additional feeder circuits long feeding distances and many spur lines teed-
off) is not really suited to an underground system.
New feeders could be established from existing Some practical difficulties could be manifested
primary substations. This option reduces the number in complications with future fault location, which
of customers per circuit and, therefore, the number could cause long interruptions to supply. Low cost,
of customers affected by each fault. This option padmounted transformers and switchgear would be
would be less effective than the addition of primary an essential requirement of such a system.
substations and may not be very efficient. It is again,
negated by excessive cost.
Feeder automation solutions
Vegetation management In an effort to improve reliability of supply, providers
are rethinking the levels of automation that is being
Both of the prior two options focus on reducing the deployed in their distribution feeders.
affects of faults, but do not do anything to reduce
the likelihood of one of the major root causes Studies of faults on overhead feeder networks
of faults which is vegetation. One thing that all have shown that 60 70% of the faults are
utilities with overhead rural feeders have to focus transient (temporary).
upon is optimizing vegetation management. This
Examples of transient faults include:
is an operational expenditure rather than a capital
expenditure, but nevertheless an extremely important > conductors clashing in the wind
activity for electrical utilities. It is essential effort that > tree branches falling on overhead conductors
contributes to reducing a specific root cause of many
> animals or birds
> lightning strikes
Covered conductor > underground conductor failures
Another option to reduce the number of faults would Deploying an auto-reclosing scheme should,
be to remove bare overhead conductors and replace therefore provide a viable solution where the transient
them with covered conductors. This will reduce faults fault can be cleared without interrupting supply to
caused by birds, animals, tree branches or other the customer. In most cases, no further operator
windblown material that is contacting the line. Using assistance or interaction would be required
a covered conductor, particularly in wooded areas, However, some faults are permanent. For example,
will help to reduce faults. Covered conductors are faults due to transformer failures and fallen power
certainly not foolproof and their performance under lines due to motor accidents or storms cannot
high impulse conditions can be a problem. The be restored automatically. Protection design and
biggest drawback with them is the cost. Replacing equipment has been designed to minimize damage
the conductors in large portions of the network is not by interrupting supply to a segment containing a fault.
generally an economically viable option. The supply will remain off until the fault is removed
and the protection equipment restored.

During a permanent fault, the following actions would This can be done manually or by using sophisticated
typically be taken to minimize the effects of the fault: switchgear controllers that enable electricity providers
to incorporate advanced automation functions in
> Interruption of supply to the affected is performed feeder networks, thus substantially reducing the
by protection equipment (circuit breaker or recloser).
outage time.
> Determine the faulty segment of the feeder.
> For looped networks, isolate the faulty segment by This paper explores the effectiveness of feeder
segmentation and considers the impacts of using
opening the switchgear upstream and downstream
of the fault. different arrangements or types of switchgear to
construct an overhead distribution network run as an
> Reconfigure the network for alternative power flow. open ring or loop.
> Restore power upstream of the faulty segment. Two possible scenarios that provide increasing levels
> If an open loop network is used, close the of automation solutions are compared for cost and
open point to restore power downstream of the
benefits, with consideration of possible operational
faulty segment.
risks under fault conditions. These are:
> Maintenance crews clear the fault. > Switches that are remotely controlled but not
> Restore the network to the normal configuration. necessarily part of an automated scheme,
and remotely controlled switches in a remotely
It is possible that outages can last for hours or
controlled, but not necessarily automated
even days. To minimize the duration of outages, it
network; and
is necessary to quickly identify the exact location of
the fault and to provide alternative power supplies to > Reclosers and sectionalizers operating in
an automated, but not necessarily remotely-
segments not containing the fault.
controlled network.

A glossary is provided at the end of the document.

Distribution Substation 1
Segment Segment Segment Segment
1 A 1 B 1 C 1 D


Legend Normally-open
tie point
Distribution Substation 2 Switchgear locations


Segment Segment Segment Segment

2 A 2 B 2 C 2 D

Figure 1: Open loop network example

Feeder segmentation
As discussed in the introduction of this paper, Increased number of segments
distribution utilities have a number of options
per feeder
available to improve the reliability of supply.
For this example, consider a theoretical radial feeder.
These are: It is assumed that the probability of a fault is the same
> additional primary substations along the entire length of the feeder. By dividing the
> additional feeder circuits feeder into multiple segments the probability that a
fault would occur in a specific segment is:
> vegetation management
> covered conductor PZ = PF x (L Z /L) where:

> underground circuits L = the length of the feeder;

> feeder automation LZ = the length of the segment; and

PF = the probability that a fault would occur
Reliability gains can also made by increasing the
anywhere on the feeder.
protection capabilities. This is not limited to the
latest protection algorithms. It also includes breaking It is possible to calculate the impact when the feeder
the feeder into smaller segments. This reduces the is divided into multiple segments of equal length.
number of customers per segment and, therefore,
the number of customers that would be affected by
Number of Segment fault Improvement
a fault. The following paragraph explores the effect Segments probability
that segment lengths have on reliability.
1 P1 = PF

2 P2 = PF x 1/2 P2/P1 = 50%

3 P3 = PF x /3
P3/P2 = 66%
4 P4 = PF x 1/4 P4/P3 = 75%

Table 1: Reliability improvement

Unfortunately, these improvement figures do not tell

the full story. To get the full picture it is necessary to
revisit the basic radial feeder, look at the probability
of an outage in each segment and then expand the
theory to a looped network.

Radial feeder segment. Only the segment containing the fault
experiences an outage until the fault is removed and
the network is restored to the original configuration.
Seg A B C D
The outage probability of each segment is not
F MP1 MP2 affected by the probability in adjacent segments.

How would a looped network affect these figures?

Where F represents the switchgear closest to F MP1 MP2 NO
the substation and MP represent switchgear
anywhere along the feeder.
Probability of a fault in each segment is:
Seg A B C D
Probability of an outage in a looped network is:
Probability of an outage in each segment is: PA PB PC PD
PS PS+A PS+A+B PS+A+B+C PS+A+B+C+D For feeders with multiple segments of equal length
Where PS is the probability of losing supply at the the probability of an outage in each segment is 1/4,
primary substation. PS should be negligible and 1
/3 or 1/2 respectively for four, three or two segments.
this simplifies the probability of an outage in each
By comparing these probability figures to
segment. (Notation: PA+B+C+D = PA + PB +PC + PD)
those determined for a radial feeder, it is possible
PA PA+B PA+B+C PA+B+C+D to calculate the improvements achieved with
For equal segment lengths and by using PZ = PF a loop network.
x (LZ/L) and the above it is possible to show what 4 25% 25% 25% 25%
percentage of permanent faults will affect each
Improvement 25% 50% 75%
segment. For feeders with four segments:
3 33% 33% 33%
4 25% 50% 75% 100%
Improvement 33% 66%
For feeders with three segments:
2 50% 50%
3 33% 66% 100%
Improvement 50%
For feeders with two segments:
2 50% 100% Table 3: Open loop network
Notice how the probability of an outage increases
further away from the substation. From this By reducing the length and increasing the number
example, it is clear that not all customers benefit of segments in a feeder it is possible to improve the
equally from additional segments on the feeder. reliability of supply. However, not all customers benefit
Only customers connected to the first segment will equally from this investment and looped networks
experience the improvements calculated in Table 1. are often used to improve supply reliability throughout
Table 2: Radial feeder the feeder.

Feeder segmentation is achieved by using different

The example above clearly shows how the outages technologies ranging from sophisticated reclosers
in each segment are affected by the number of faults and sectionalizers through SCADA-controllable
in that specific segment and the faults occurring in load-break switches to manually operated air-
upstream segments. break switches.
Looped networks are used to reduce the number The technology used in feeders differs from utility-
of outages for segments located further away from to-utility and is also affected by the population
the substation and to overcome this stepped increase density (number of customers per segment). In reality
in outages. underground circuits may be used in the inner city,
reclosers in substations and outer city feeders and
sectionalizers in rural feeders.
Open loop network
The subsequent sections discuss in detail the benefit
In a looped network, the switchgear immediately and operation of each technology based on a
upstream and downstream of a fault are opened common feeder topology.
to isolate the fault, and the normally-open point is
closed to restore power downstream of the faulty

Remotely-controllable switches
In this example, remotely-controlled load-break entire feeder is healthy, the operator would open the
switches are used in an overhead feeder. Remotely- normally-open point and close the remotely controllable
monitored Fault Current Indicators (FCIs) are used switches to restore the network to the normal pre-
with the load-break switches, sometimes they are faulted configuration.
used separately, while sometimes they are built into
the switch. These configurations add greater levels
of intelligence to the loop automation scheme. The
switches are used for general switching operations
and, in the event of a permanent fault, an operator
would use the FCI indication to determine which
switches to open. This isolates the faulted segment of
the feeder.

To operate such a network, a communications

system is necessary, and the operation of the
switches is typically performed from the control room.
During a fault condition, the feeder reconfiguration is
typically not done automatically. Figure 3: Remotely-controllable load-break
switch RL-Series

Operational risks
Control room
The reaction time of the control room has a significant
Substation circuit breaker impact on the feeder restoration times. In practice the
Closed remotely controllable switch reaction time is influenced by:
Open remotely controllable switch
> the availability of an operator 24 hours per day,
7 days a week
Figure 2: Typical switch network
> sufficient staff of operators to monitor and react
during periods of extreme fault activity such as
Basic operation during large storms
fault conditions > reliability of communications network to monitor FCI
indication and to control the switchgear
When a permanent fault occurs, the following steps
are taken: > feeder complexity
> The substation circuit breaker or recloser > level of automation in control room and network.
trips automatically to interrupt supply to the
affected feeder. If managed correctly, control room operations would

> An operator in the control room: not degrade the operational efficiency of this type of
identifies the faulty segment of the feeder
by using the FCI indication displayed in the Faulted Circuit Indicator (FCI)
control room
FCIs are the eyes of the operator. When the operator
opens the nearest upstream and downstream
does not have a clear understanding of the fault
switches to isolate the faulty segment using the
location, the operational efficiency of the network
communications network
would be reduced.
reconfigures the protection in substation
breakers FCI functionality can be incorporated in the switchgear.
closes the substation circuit breaker to restore These utilize switchgear-mounted Current Transformers
power upstream of the faulty segment (CTs) and sensing electronics to detect fault conditions.
closes the normally-open tie point to provide
power downstream of the faulty segment. FCIs can also be separate from the switchgear; these
typically measure the magnetic field around the line
Through this operation, power is restored to the and are simply clipped onto the conductor making
healthy parts of the network. The operator would it extremely easy to install. The major advantage of
then dispatch the maintenance crews to the faulty clip-on FCIs is that they can be installed anywhere
segment of the feeder to remove the fault. Once the along the feeder, and at different intervals. Because
of this simplicity, it is possible to relocate them as each unit before power is restored. This can take
requirements change. many hours and can cause unacceptable delays in
restoring power to the customers.
Two risks are associated with FCIs false indication
and no indication at all.
Evolving solutions
False indication is the situation where the FCI
Where a communications network may be expensive
indicates a fault without a fault being present. This
or difficult to implement, and in more critical parts of
can be caused by inrush currents during switching
networks, there is a movement away from remotely
operations and reclosing cycles. In general, no
controllable switches toward infilling with reclosers
indication can also occur when low level phase and
and using the remotely controllable switches as
ground fault conditions are not detected by the FCIs,
sectionalizers. This introduces protection and
this would result in the absence of FCI indication. It
automation potential to the feeder.
is possible to overcome these risks by matching the
detection capabilities of the FCI to that of the primary An example of a more sophisticated feeder is where
protection devices in the feeder. load break switch sectionalizers are used instead
of remotely controllable switches. Communications
It is also possible that the absence of indication is
is not essential to the operation of feeders where
caused by communication failure.
reclosers and sectionalizers are used. These
In either case, an operator may be left with a dead networks can be automated to improve response
feeder and inaccurate FCI indication on their SCADA, times and do not have to be remotely-controlled.
OMS or DMS mimic panel. This can mislead the
operator about the actual location of the faulty
segment, resulting in incorrect switching operations
which would increase the time taken to restore power.

The integrity of the remotely controllable switch
network relies significantly on the availability of
communications. This key part of the system affects
all aspects of network operation.

During a fault condition the protection equipment

will trip. Without communications, the operator
will not be able to reconfigure and restore supply.
Maintenance crews will have to locate the fault
Figure 4: Easergy Flite FCI
and manually reconfigure the network by driving to

Advantages/Disadvantages of Remotely Controllable Switches

Advantages Disadvantages

> Relatively low initial cost of switchgear. > Operation is dependent on the integrity and availability of the
> Much lower outage times when compared with communications network.
manually-operated switches (no communications).
> Existing Communications Networks, like AMI,
can be leveraged to communicate with remotely
controllable switches.
> Operator can intervene and choose different
modes of operations depending on the situation.
> Saves field crew time and truck rolls for both
normal/emergency switching operations.

Sectionalizing switchgear
To analyze the use of sectionalizer logic in a feeder, > An operator in the control room would then:
consider the same open loop topology from open the next downstream switch to isolate the
the previous example, but replace the remotely faulty segment
controllable switches with sectionalizing switches. reconfigure the protection in substation breakers
if necessary
A sectionalizing switch (sectionalizer) is a load-break
close the normally-open tie point to apply power
switch capable of monitoring both current and
downstream of the faulty segment.
voltage on all three phases. The switch is combined
with a controller that is capable of detecting At this point, power is restored to the healthy parts
throughfaults and upstream recloser operation. The of the network and the operator would despatch the
current sensors count the number of fault currents line crews to the faulted segment of the feeder to
which pass through the switch, and the voltage remove the fault. Once the entire feeder is healthy,
sensors detect when the line is de-energized due to the operator can open the normally-open point and
upstream recloser operation. When the programmed close the sectionalizers to restore the network to the
number of reclosing operations occurs, the controller normal configuration.
opens the sectionalizer during the dead time, to
isolate the downstream fault.

These networks are sequenced based on the number

of operations; upstream devices are set to open at a
higher number of Supply Interruptions (SI) than
the downstream devices. Therefore, in this example,
the SI counter for the sectionalizers is set to 3, 2 and
1 respectively.

This example will demonstrate how the introduction

of basic automation can significantly reduce the
operational risks.

SI=3 21 Figure 6: Automated sectionalizer and control unit

SI=3 21 Operational risks
Control room
Substation circuit breaker Only the segments downstream of the fault are
Closed sectionalizing switch
affected by the reaction time of the control room. It
Open sectionalizing switch
is, therefore, possible to prioritize the segments in the
Figure 5: Typical sectionalizer network feeder and plan the restoration times for each one.
In practice, the reaction time for the remainder of
the feeder is still influenced by the same factors in a
Basic operation during remotely controllable feeder.
fault conditions The impact of operators and the control room on the
When a permanent fault occurs, the following steps operational efficiency of this type of network is less
are taken: than before.

> The substation circuit breaker or recloser trips and Fault current indication
recloses automatically, while the sectionalizers
Monitored sectionalizers can be used for fault current
count the supply interruptions.
indication. Fully featured sectionalizers offer improved
> The first sectionalizer to reach its set SI count opens fault detection and controller capabilities. This may
during the dead time of the recloser. This isolates reduce false indication issues when features such
the fault, and supply to the upstream portion of the as inrush restraint and cold load pickup are used.
feeder is restored automatically on the next reclose.
Additional FCIs can be installed to improve network
The change of state in the sectionalizer would then
be reported via a communications network to the
control room to fulfill the FCI function.

Similar to the remotely controllable switch network, the complaints area, open it and then close the
communication failure can result in incorrect normally-open point.
switching operations and an increase in the time
Although not an ideal solution, in this case the
taken to restore power.
feedback and information from customers can be
Communications very helpful.

Due to the sectionalizer logic, the feeder upstream

from the fault is unaffected by communication Evolving solutions
problems. However, communications are required to The operational risks were substantially reduced
sectionalize the downstream portion of the network with the introduction of sectionalizers in the feeder.
and to control the normally-open point. However, due to the limited protection features and
If a complete breakdown of communications is the faults affecting the entire feeder, this solution may
experienced, it is possible for the control room to not be suitable for high priority customers especially
use customer calls to determine the affected parts industrial customers.
of the feeder. In this way, the maintenance crews Automatic circuit reclosers are designed to overcome
can focus their effort on the first sectionalizer within these problems.

Advantages/Disadvantages of Sectionalizing Switchgear

Advantages Disadvantages

> Relatively low initial cost of switchgear. > Sectionalizing switches do not have reclosing capabilities; however, they are
> Power is automatically restored to the upstream slightly less expensive than auto-reclosers.
portion of the feeder.
> The importance of communications is slightly
reduced although it is still required. Coordination
between sectionalizers is easier.
> Improved fault detection capabilities are possible.
> FCIs functionality is provided by the sectionalizers.

Reclosing systems
Todays reclosers are capable of advanced Coordination of reclosers
protection, communication, automation and have
additional analytical functionality. With an abundance To achieve the required coordination on series
of processing power at their disposal, utilities now reclosers, the operating time of each recloser must be
have the flexibility to use the recloser as a stand- faster than any upstream device and slower than any
alone unit in a remote location, or to integrate several downstream device. That is, for the typical recloser
units into an automation system. network shown in Figure 8, where a specific fault
current is flowing through the network, MP2 will trip
Whatever the application, the reclosers are flexible quicker than MP1 and MP1 will trip quicker than
enough to evolve with the utilitys requirements. F. The instant the recloser closest to the fault trips,
current through the other upstream reclosers reduce
Reclosers monitor current, voltage, frequency and
to load current and the sequence resets.
the power flow direction to protect the feeder.
By coordinating the reclosers correctly, only the This ensures that only the recloser immediately
recloser that is the closest to the fault will trip. This upstream of the fault will trip. A safe margin
is very important for the successful implementation (approximately 200 ms) between operating times of
of reclosers. A recloser can be programmed to successive devices must be maintained for all fault
automatically reclose when it tripped due to a fault. levels on the network being protected.

Using this logic, power is restored automatically Pre-programmed Inverse Definite Minimum Time
in the event of a transient fault. However, if the (IDMT) protection curves or definite time to trip are
fault is permanent the recloser will trip again and used for phase and ground over-current protection.
remain open (lockout). It is possible to have up to a These protection curves allow close orchestration
maximum of four trips to lockout. with substation protection relays and other
protection devices.

Fast Trip Delayed Trip

Fast Trip to
1400 Lockout


Ground Current
1000 Ground fault A phase
propagates into a B phase
Initial permanent three
Ground fault phase fault C Phase
Current ( A )



Load current

Long 2nd reclose time
Short 1st
reclose time 13:52:39
Time (hh:mm:ss) 13:52:40

Figure 7: Typical timing diagram of a reclose sequence

Feeders with different electrical characteristics require Manual mode
different protection strategies. Distribution utilities In the manual mode the following actions are taken:
worldwide have developed their own strategies to
suit their particular system conditions. For example, > The recloser immediately upstream of the fault
fault analysis may show that the primary causes of automatically trips, recloses to lockout and
remains open.
transient faults on a network are:
> lightning induced power surges > An operator:
determines the location of the fault from the
> wildlife getting caught in the power lines recloser status and/or additional FCIs;
> trees or branches falling on the lines. opens the next downstream recloser to isolate
the faulty segment;
Independent configuration of the time to trip for each
reconfigures the protection settings in
protection operation in the reclose sequence allows
anticipation of reverse power flow, and
the utilities to optimize the protection strategy for
Closes the normally-open point to restore power
each network.
downstream of the faulty segment.

A protection strategy could typically be: With power restored to the healthy parts of the
A. The fault is first assumed to be lightning related. network and the operator can dispatch the line crews
A fast IDMT curve with a small time multiplier to the faulted segment of the feeder. Once the entire
(e.g., 0.05x) and an instantaneous element is used feeder is healthy, the operator can open the
to ensure short exposure to the initial fault current. normally-open point, reconfigure, and close the
reclosers to restore the network to the normal pre-
B. This operation is followed by a very short
reclose time (e.g., 0.5 sec) to limit the effects faulted configuration.
on electronic equipment.
C. If the fault is not cleared, on the subsequent auto-
reclose, a slow IDMT curve with a long operating
time allows tree or animal induced faults on rural
spur lines to be cleared by upstream fuses.
D. The reclose time that follows is long (e.g., 5 sec)
to allow the animal or branch to fall clear of
the line if it is on the feeder or it did not cause
fuse operation.
E. If the fault is still present after the auto-reclose, it is
assumed to be permanent, and a fast IDMT curve
minimizes exposure to fault currents.

Basic operation during

fault conditions
It is possible to operate this type of network in either
a manual mode where the operator has to perform
the reconfiguration of the network, or in a Loop
Automation mode where the reclosers perform all Figure 9: Reclosers
the task automatically.



Substation circuit breaker

Closed automatic circuit recloser
Open automatic circuit recloser

Figure 8: Typical recloser network

Reclosing systems (cont.)
Intelligent Loop Automation Operational risks
It is important to note that protection is the first and
Control room
foremost function of the reclosers, even in a loop
automation scheme. A more sophisticated recloser is In a manual system, the segment downstream
required to perform both protection and automation of the fault is affected by the reaction time of the
functions. In addition to these, the reclosers have to control room. To assist the operator during feeder
measure power flow and voltage on both sides of the reconfiguration, recloser systems are capable of
recloser. automatically applying forward or reverse protection
settings when power flow changes. In such a system,
To explain the basic operation of a loop automation the operator is not required to change the settings in
scheme, lets first define the reclosers as follows: all the reclosers.
> Feeder recloser (F) Recloser closest to the A loop automation system does not require any
operator intervention all the operator has to do is
> Tie (TIE) The open point recloser where the two dispatch the line crews.
feeders meet. This is a normally-open point (NO).
> Mid-point reclosers (MP) All the reclosers Fault current indication
positioned between the feeder and tie reclosers. The ON/OFF status and even logs of reclosers are
commonly used to determine the location of faults
Each of these reclosers is programmed with a
on feeders. With this inherent FCI functionality of the
different set of rules when controlled by loop
recloser, false indication is eliminated.
automation, which can be simplified as follows:
> The feeder recloser trips when it loses supply. Separate FCIs can be used in conjunction with the

> The mid-point recloser changes to the reclosers to assist the operators in determining the
exact location of faults on long feeders.
reverse power flow protection settings when it
loses supply. Communications
> The tie recloser closes when it detects that supply Communications are not required in the loop
to one side of the network has been lost.
automation scheme. However, it may be desirable to
Loop automation uses time, voltage, power flow do so in order to monitor the status of the network at
and these simple rules to isolate the fault and several key points to assist maintenance crews.
reconfigure the network without the need for any
In a manual recloser system, the feeder upstream
communications or operator assistance.
from the fault is unaffected by communication
In a loop automation network the following actions problems, but communication is required to
will take place when a fault occurs: reconfigure the downstream portion of the network

> The recloser immediately upstream of the fault and to control the normally-open point.
automatically trips, recloses to lockout and
remains open. Evolving solutions
> Reclosers downstream of the fault automatically Reclosers provide a very robust operational system,
change the protection settings in anticipation of capable of protecting the feeder irrespective of
power flowing in the opposite direction. operational factors. The number of customers
> The normally-open tie recloser closes automatically. affected by permanent faults is minimized. To further
> Since the fault still being present, the recloser improve the feeders immunity to operational risks
immediately downstream of the fault trips and may be very difficult and can be extremely expensive.
locks out without reclosing.
To further improve distribution network reliability,
This will automatically restore power to the healthy the focus shifts away from reducing operational
parts of the network. An operator can now dispatch risks to improving reliability of supply through
line crews to the faulted segment. It is also possible feeder automation.
for the loop automation system to restore the original
configuration when the fault is cleared.

Advantages/Disadvantages of Recloser Systems
Advantages Disadvantages

> Customers upstream from the fault are not affected at all. > Incremental cost difference with reclosing systems compared
> The Reclosing Loop Automation scheme does not require to sectionalizing only.
communications, but is enhanced with it.
> Power is restored quickly without any operator intervention, when
the loop automation scheme is used.
> Advanced protection features are available.
> Multiple groups of settings are pre-set to ensure an effortless
feeder reconfiguration when needed.
> Diagnostic tools are available to assist in feeder analysis.
> With minimal effort, the manual system can be upgraded to the
loop automation system.

Switch Automation Schemes
A feeder automation network combines reclosers and
sectionalizers in a feeder to provide orchestration on
both current/time and number of operations. This is
accomplished by introducing up to two sectionalizers
in each zone protected by a recloser.

F SI=3 2 MP SI=3 2

sect 1 sect 2 sect 3

F SI=3 SI=2

Closed automatic circuit recloser

Closed sectionalizer
Figure 11: Gas or Air insulated recloser

Figure 10: Feeder automation network

Sectionalizer source side voltage

Basic operation during LIVE
fault conditions DEAD

In a feeder automation network, the reclosers

Sectionalizer Current SI = SI+1
protect the downstream portion of the feeder up
to the next recloser. Similar to the recloser network
described earlier, the recloser will trip and reclose
in the presence of a fault. The sectionalizers count Sectionalizer Open command
the through-faults similarly to the sectionalizing
switchgear network described earlier. The
difference is that if the fault occurs downstream of a
sectionalizer, the sectionalizer closest to the fault will
open before the recloser reaches lockout. Sectionalizer contact position
For this system to work correctly, it is essential that
the recloser is configured with four trips to lockout Operating
and the sectionalizers are configured with SI (supply time
interrupt) counters of three and two respectively.
Recloser Dead
For a feeder using one sectionalizer instead of two, time
the recloser is set to three trips to lockout and the
supply interrupt counter in the sectionalizer is set to Figure 12: Sectionalizer timing diagram
two. See the sectionalizer timing diagram in Figure 12
for more information.
This diagram shows the importance of having a
recloser dead time greater than the sectionalizer
operating time. If this rule is ignored, the sectionalizer
contacts can open when the power is ON. This will
result in the switch interrupting fault current,
which can drastically shorten the operational life
of the switch, and the recloser will trip to lockout.

The logic of a feeder automation network is

best explained using timing diagrams for different
fault locations.

Firstly, what happens when a fault occurs in A fault in section 3 will cause the recloser to trip and
Section 1? reclose once before the sectionalizer S2 opens
to isolate the fault. Both sectionalizer count the
F sect I=3S sect I=2 sect interruptions. The second reclose restores power
1 2 3 upstream of S2. The sequence resets in the recloser
F and S1 after the sequence reset time.
S1 S2

F On
F sect SI=3 sect SI=2 sect
1 2 3

S1 S 2
S1 On
F On
S2 On Sequence reset
S1 On
SI=1 S I=2
Figure 13: Fault in Section 1
S2 On
The recloser F trips to lockout, remains Open (OFF)
and the sectionalizers do not change state. When
a fault occurs in section 2 the recloser trips and
Figure 15: Fault in Section 3
recloses twice before the sectionalizer S1 opens to
isolate the fault. The third reclose operation restores
power up to S1. The recloser F sequence resets Advantages of Feeder Automation
after the sequence reset time.

F sect
SI=3 sect
SI=2 sect
> Improved supply reliability when the segments
are broken into smaller sections, therefore
reducing the length of feeder that can be
S1 S 2
isolated in the event of a fault.
F On > Protection coordination is relative easy.
Sequence reset
> Flexible solutions are possible.
S1 On
> Existing recloser or sectionalizer networks
can be upgraded to incorporate full feeder
automation with relative ease.

S2 On
> The advantages of sectionalizing switch and
recloser networks are combined in feeder
automation networks.
> Creative protection solutions are possible at
relatively low cost.
Figure 14: Fault in Section 2
> With full directional capabilities, the network
will automatically reconfigure itself when the
normally-open point is closed in the event
of a fault.

Switch Automation Schemes (cont.)
Feeder automation in
a looped network
When feeder automation is used in a looped network, In the reverse direction the settings will change to:
it is necessary to consider using reclosers and
sectionalizers with advanced capabilities such
> F is the closest recloser to the substation. A fault
upstream of F will cause a loss of supply at the
as directional protection and intelligent loop recloser and it will open to isolate the substation. It
automation schemes. does not change protection settings.

With full directional capabilities, the reclosers and > S1 reverse detection and SI = 1.
sectionalizers are configured for protection with > S2 reverse detection and SI = 2.
power flowing in both the forward and reverse
directions. Protection in both directions is active
> MP1 reverse protection and three
trips to lockout.
at any given point in time. This allows the utility to
manually close the normally-open point in the event With only one sectionalizer per segment the settings
of a fault, without having to reconfigure the other are slightly different.
switchgear in the feeder. It is possible to focus on the
communications link to the normally-open point and,
F sect S1 sect MP1
by ensuring that it is reliable, power restoration will 1 2
be possible.
Normal power flow
In a network using loop automation, the switchgear direction
controllers will automatically reconfigure the
protection settings following a permanent fault Figure 17: Feeder Automation with one sectionalizer
conditions. Operation is very similar to that of a
recloser-only loop automation scheme. The major In a forward direction the following settings are used:
difference is that reclosing is allowed to enable
sectionalizing, but the SI settings are reduced.
> F forward protection and three trips to lockout.
> S1 forward detection and SI = 2.
F S1 S2
> MP1 forward protection and
sect sect sect MP1 three trips to lockout.
1 2 3
In the reverse direction the settings will change to:
Normal power flow
direction > F is the closest recloser to the substation. A fault
upstream of F will cause a loss of supply at the
Figure 16: Feeder Automation Loop recloser and it will open to isolate the substation.
It does not change protection settings.
In the segment shown above, recloser F protects > S1 reverse detection and SI = 1.
the segment during the normal configuration while
recloser MP1 is protecting the segment when power
> MP1 reverse protection and two trips to
is restored. In a forward direction the following
settings are used: A feeder automation network provides a flexible

> F forward protection and four trips to lockout. solution to any protection challenge and is capable
of evolving with the distribution requirements.
> S1 forward detection and SI = 3.
> S2 forward detection and SI = 2.
> MP1 forward protection and
four trips to lockout.

Automation of Feeder Switching and
Reclosing improve reliability, minimize
customer service interruptions, and save
utility operators time and money. The
field and control center have increased
awareness of the state of the network
and fault locations are able to respond
to emergency outages.

Example cost analysis
Feeder 1



3.1mi 6.2mi
6.2mi 4.7mi
Switchgear l ocations 3.1mi

Feeder Automation Sectionalizers

Feeder 2

Figure 18: Example network used in cost analysis

Network description Costs considered

The basic network shown in Figure 18 will be used The cost of the distribution infrastructure is assumed
to analyze the cost implications of applying different equal for all of the network configurations and is not
levels of capabilities in a network. The network included in this analysis. Communication and other
contains two radial feeders, tied together using a equipment associated with the control room are also
normally-open point. Each feeder comprises of three not part of the analysis.
segments and each segment contains two spur lines.
Table 4 provides a breakdown of the costs
The main-line of feeder 1 is 23.3mi (37.5km) long and
considered in the analysis. For comparison purposes,
the total length of the spur lines is 38.8mi (62.5km).
the cost of each item is expressed as a multiple
Feeder 2s main-line is 24.9mi (40km) long and the
of the remotely controllable switchs cost. These
combined length of the spur lines is 37.3mi (60km).
relationships may vary slightly from utility to utility.
The overall length of each feeder is 62.1mi (100km)
and the network supplies power to and area of The analysis firstly considers average revenue lost
approximately 621.4mi (1000km). due to outages. This average is based on the level
of functionality, topology and segment lengths
Reclosers are used as substation breakers.
used in the network. The same average response
Switchgear locations are indicated along the mainline
and fault repair times were assumed for each
and the length of each section is shown. The location
network type. Although networks often evolve
of the sectionalizers used in analyzing the feeder
substantially during the useful service life of 30 years,
automation circuit is also shown on the diagram.
this analysis assumed the same load distribution
These sectionalizers are ignored in the analysis of
throughout the period.
other network configurations.
A remotely controllable switch network relies heavily
The load per feeder is typically 4MW with 2MW,
on the integrity of the communications infrastructure
1.5MW and 0.5MW of load in segment A, B and C
respectively. (A is the closest to the substation.)

to work reliably. Therefore, the analysis includes a Due to the inherent FCI functionality of recloser and
fiber optic communications line installed along the sectionalizers, separate FCIs are not included in the
entire length of the main-line. Separate FCIs are also analysis where these devices are used.
included for each switch.
The analysis also refers to two types of reclosers
A radio control network is assumed for both the and sectionalizers advanced and normal.
sectionalizing and manually controlled recloser Additional features such as full directional protection
networks. Although communications are not required capabilities, additional automation features (such as
in the automated recloser and feeder automation loop automation), and powerful analytical tools are
networks, some basic communications were included available in the advanced products.
to alert the control room of automation actions.

Description Cost Remotely Sectionalizer Recloser Recloser Feeder

Multiple Controllable Manual Automated Automation
Cost due to outages (30 years) Qty Value Qty Value Qty Value Qty Value Qty Value
Remotely Controllable 9.08 p/a 30 272
Sectionalizer 8.76 p/a 30 263
Recloser manual 8.45 p/a 30 254
Recloser automated 7.65 p/a 30 230
Swiching Automation Schemes 4.58 p/a 30 137
Costs of Protection Equipment and Communications Infrastructure
Substation recloser 5 2 10 2 10 2 10 2 10 2 10
Remotely Controllable switch 1 5 5
FCIs 0.5 5 2.5
Sectionalizers 3 5 15
Advanced sectionalizers 4 6 24
Reclosers 5 5 25
Advanced reclosers 6 5 30 5 30
Installed optical fiber comms (per km) 0.3 77.5 23.25
Phone/Radio comms (per point) 0.2 5 1 5 1 5 1 5 1
Cost due to outages 272 263 254 230 137
Cost of protection equipment 41 26 36 41 65
Total Costs of Equipment 313 289 290 271 202
and Outages
Cost differential [%] -8 -8 -14 -35

Table 4: Cost analysis breakdown

This paper describes a range of feeder protection and segmentation options available in todays technology-driven market. Although the
options were explained using switchgear located on the main-line of the network, it is possible to apply the techniques to branch lines too.
Existing networks can also keep up with future requirements by evolving to more sophisticated technology. In some cases it may be as easy
as a firmware/software upgrade.

Select your supplier carefully. Ensure that the hardware platform is powerful and flexible enough to ensure accurate and reliable operation
where and when you need it.

The analysis considers the initial capital investment The lack of solutions in the remote controllably
and the impact of supply reliability to determine switch network contributes to the high level of
the optimum long-term investment. Table 4 shows revenue lost due to outages. The cost of the
the impact of each component in the analysis and communications network increases the cost of
helps to derive an order of preferred solutions to a the initial investment substantially. These hidden
distribution system: costs are sometimes overlooked and can drastically
1. Feeder automation network reduce the return on investment.

2. Automated recloser network Although the feeder automation network requires the
3. Manual recloser network largest initial capital investment of all, the benefit of
such a network is easily realized when the reduction
4. Sectionalizer network
in revenue loss due to outages are considered.
5. Remotely Controllable switch network with
intelligent loop automation

Term Description

Cold Load Pickup When a feeder has been without power for an extended period of time the load will lose its diversity. All
the thermostats will be turned on. Air conditioners, fridges, freezers, hot water systems, etc. will all turn
on when the feeder is energized. This will cause an overload which can last for several minutes. Cold
load pickup overcomes this effect.

Dead time This is the duration where the recloser is OFF, after a protection trip and before it recloses.

Inrush restraint The short term over-current flowing through a feeder, the instant it is energized, is known as inrush
current. Inrush restraint takes into consideration the short burst of these currents.

Lockout Lockout is the state where the recloser remains open and no further close operation is possible until
the operator resets the recloser.

Operating time This is the time it takes for a sectionalizer to OPEN after a trip command was issued.

Supply Interrupt (SI) counter A sectionalizer increments the supply interrupt counter when, after it detected a downstream fault, the
current and voltage drop to zero.

SAIDI System Average Interruption Duration Index is a KPI utilized by utilities and regulators.

CAIDI Customer Average Interruption Duration Index is a KPI utilized by utilities and regulators.

SAIFI System Average Interruption Frequency Index is a KPI utilized by utilities and regulators.

FCI Faulted Circuit Indicators installed on power lines tell crews and operators which direction to look for
faulted segments.

Control Center Central location where system operators utilize SCADA software and other systems to monitor the
transmission and distribution grid.

SCADA Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. These software and hardware systems provide real time
measurements and control capabilities for the control center and system operators.

Communications Peer-to-Peer or mesh networking providing the ability of devices to communicate with one another as
well as with the control center.

FLISR Fault Location Isolation and Supply Restoration. This is an example of an Automated Switching
Scheme designed to isolated faulted segments and restore power to unfaulted segments
automatically. This may also be referred to as Loop Automation or Smart Sectionalizing.

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Document Number 0107BR1402 September 2014