SPX Responds to the U.S. Government's Call to Action in Regards to Minimizing the Impact of Geomagnetic Disturbances on the Grid
February 11, 2014 – SPX Transformer Solutions has responded to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order by taking several steps to ensure that Waukesha® transformers will perform as our customers expect in the event of a geomagnetic disturbance (GMD). FERC Order No. 779 directs the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the Commission-certified electric reliability organization, to submit to FERC for approval new reliability standards that address the impact of GMDs on the dependable operation of the bulk power system.
When sunspot activity leads to coronal mass ejections which travel through space and then interact with the earth’s magnetic field, they distort the magnetic field and can cause geomagnetically induced currents (GIC) to flow through the power system and, more specifically, through the grounded neutral connections of large power transformers. Since these GIC currents are quasi-DC, they can lead to saturation of the transformer core, increased absorption of vars*, distortion of the voltage sine wave on the system and heating within some transformer components.
SPX Waukesha has taken several steps to reassure customers that the transformers designed and manufactured at both facilities will withstand the effects of exposure to any expected levels of GICs as a result of future GMD events:
- SPX joined the NERC GMD Task Force which is investigating the science of a GMD event and consequences on the power system, interactions of the transformers and the effects of that exposure on existing transformers.
- We helped initiate a new working group within the IEEE Transformers Committee that will establish guidelines for manufacturers and transformer owners to address the effects of transformer exposure to GIC, guidelines for design criteria and guidance for application.
In addition, we are ensuring that each new transformer is designed to withstand FERC-specified GIC exposure levels.
For more information on the proposed GMD reliability standard, see the following article: http://www.pennenergy.com/articles/pennenergy/2014/01/power-systems-ferc-proposes-reliability-standard-on-geomagnetic-disturbances.html.
* Unit of reactive power of an alternating current, equal to the product of the current measured in amperes and the voltage measured in volts