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Underground Distribution Substation

Vault modernization improves reliability,
safety and resiliency

The need for reliability, safety and

resiliency in our power networks is
driving grid modernization, and forms
the basis of every utility’s key
performance indicators. Outdated,
aging equipment increases the risk
of failure, while the lack of modern
control and automation puts field
personnel at risk and exposes customers
to wider outages during equipment
failure and severe storms. Fortunately,
the rapid evolution of power equipment,
monitoring and automation technologies
is improving the capabilities of
equipment and automation in critical
areas, such as underground utility vaults.

Challenges for underground visibility means personnel have no choice but to bodily
enter the vault network to diagnose failures. In today’s
distribution networks environment where every minute without power hits
the utility reliability metric, aging equipment and the
Many underground utility networks were installed
need to isolate vault to vault can result in lengthy
decades ago, and equipment in them is replaced only
outages before a power system is restored.
when it fails. Primary underground equipment -
switchgear, transformers and isolators - was usually
installed with open air electrical connections that pose

huge safety risks for utility personnel. The ABB solution
As your underground vault exceed their expected life, Vault revitalization and distribution automation
there are many challenges driving your maintain or Your ABB team will help assess the present state
replace decision. Vault designs and networks that of your vault network and provide comprehensive
worked in the past are becoming increasingly solutions, including primary equipment replacement
problematic obstacles to safe and efficient operation. with modern switchgear and control systems, including
For example: dead front switchgear designed to improve personnel
• entry of field personnel entry into confined vault safety in a fully energized system.
space requires extreme safety precautions;
ABB’s control and automation solution also improves
• manual operation of load switches and coordination personnel safety by enabling vault visibility from the
with adjacent vaults; street and allows your network control center to
• zero visibility of vault switchgear status, or telemetry dispatch crews to the identified vault. Reliability and
of proper working pump and drainage system; resiliency are improved with ABB’s fault identification
• low availability of spare parts for aging equipment; and automatic transfer switching solutions, which
• utilization of pole top transformers for underground utilize state-of-the-art control technology based on the
applications; IEC 61850 communication standards.
• poor reliability and delayed outage responses. ABB utility vault solutions are built on robust
Vault entries under hazardous conditions will increase technologies, enhanced automation to provide total
as primary equipment reaches end-of-life, and underground distribution network visibility that
equipment failures multiply. Lack of automation and minimizes customer outages.
Features to operate and report telemetry during severe storm
• Submersible ABB switchgear, transformers, and
connectors allow for ful operablility if vault is flooded. • Improved personnel safety: switchgear control from
outside the vault, limiting risk to personnel working
• Submersible ABB control and monitoring equipment
in a restrictive space, according to NFPA70E standard
provide vault control and condition status to field
for Electrical Safety in the workplace.
operators and network control center.
• Reduce labor costs: coasted connector greatly reduce
• Remote capacity monitors for internal or external faults
the need from taping at transform bushing.
from the network control center, with added telemetry
for condition information, i.e., water level in the vault. • Lower operational costs: improved vault reliability
leads to lower outage times.
• Integration of the vault switchgear into SCADA and
Distribution Management System (DMS) utilizing wired • Improved visibility and accessibility: simple operation
and wireless communications. of switchgear from street level.
• Fast fault isolation and restoration to minimize the • Cost effective solution: maintenance-free switchgear
duration and scale of the network outage. suitable for use in submersible applications.

Benefits • Advanced automation system: IEC 61850

international standard, scalable control and modular
• Improved reliability: submersible switchgear, switchgear, enabling easy system extension.
transformer, and connectors able to withstand flooded.
• Full line of connector solutions configurable to meet
• Improved resiliency: submersible control system’s ability the needs of any application.

Solutions summary
Vault automation for Turnkey services for Wireless communication Network control of vault
Design for Submersible system visibility vault design, package infrastructure field area system with ABB Distribution
Operations and Safety and resiliency and procurement network Management System
SAS-004-01 SAS-004-02 SAS-004-03 SAS-004-04 SAS-004-05
ABB vault modernization State-of-the-art ABB control ABB electrical and automation ABB wireless systems are ABB Distribution Management
solutions provide a safe and monitoring solutions solutions, design and the backbone of network System (DMS) provides complete
environment for field personnel provide SCADA visibility packaging services are a control, automation and vault vault network control and
during maintenance and of vault equipment under turnkey one-stop shop. visibility. High performance outage management under
operation. ABB vault solutions extreme conditions. Fault Engineering services support and a secure field area severe weather or normal
are designed to be submersible detection, isolation and your grid modernization network is the conduit for maintenance conditions.
and to operate under severe adjacent vault restoration planning, engineering design improving vault network
weather conditions. capability ensures and protects and consultation, including visibility and management.
grid improving resiliency. packaging and delivery services.

Solution description • Submersible underground commercial transformers

ABB’s modernization solution for vaults begins with • Switchgear control – ABB Relion REC670 or REF615
compact and submersible switchgear design, • Remote Terminal Unit – ABB RTU540
incorporating Elastimold Switches and Interrupters • Wireless communication – ABB TropOS radio and
with dead front technology for enhanced personnel network management
safety. The switchgear, transformer and • ABB-designed submersible control cabinet and
interconnections are compact, modular and scalable, backup battery system
permitting easy entrance in confined spaces and • Distribution Management System – ADMS and
maximum flexibility in underground vault design. DMS600
Switchgear control utilizes ABB’s bay control solution. • Submersible transformer and secondary distribution
The comprehensive multi-object REC670 controller can connectors - Homac Connectors
integrate 4, 5, and 6-way bay control of underground • Separable connectors, splices, and fuses - Elastimold
vault switches and interrupters. The switchgear
• Faulted circuit indicators - Fisher-Pierce
controller is accessed by the remote terminal unit
RTU540 and TropOs wireless radio. The underground —
vault interface enables both local field access and
remote access from the network control center. A key Points to consider
feature of the submersible control cabinet is its • Does your system have underground vault networks?
capacity to operate during vault de-energization and • Is the equipment more than 20 years old? Are
under flooded vault conditions. ABB’s wireless exposed conductors inside the vault?
communication solution and extendable Distribution • Is personnel safety important to your company?
Management System provides complete network • Do dangerous vaults increase risks to personnel?
visibility, essential for vault electrical control and • Does your existing equipment lead to poor reliability
outage management. indices?
• Are automation and communication systems
— installed in your underground distribution network?
• Are you considering to install or an upgrade to a
Enabling products DMS?
• Submersible switchgear – Elastimold Switches and • Is storm hardening receiving increased priority?

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