Grid Mod: BPA Makes Most Significant Update in a Decade to its Automatic Generation Control Tool
August 28, 2019 -- Behind the 15,000 circuit miles of BPA’s high voltage transmission and the federal hydroelectric projects in the Northwest is an operational system that ensures the bulk electric grid constantly keeps generation and load in balance. Thanks to a one-BPA team from Power Generation, Transmission Operations and Transmission Technology, the Automatic Generation Control system has seen its most significant upgrade in more than a decade.
The enhancement to the AGC system went live in June 2019 and is designed to maximize system flexibility by enabling separation of the direction and type of power reserves held on the grid in order to optimize real-time operations of the system while avoiding negative impacts to operations for fish.
With the increased capability of AGC to balance load and generation, BPA duty schedulers can now use each hydroelectric project individually to increase or decrease generation. Duty schedulers can also now utilize contingency reserves – used for atypical operations – from those used for typical operations, such as balancing reserves. These enhancements increase the flexibility of the federal hydro system to better meet the needs of the region in real time while still keeping the grid stable.
“The previous iteration of AGC kept our grid in balance, but it required Bonneville to be conservative in how it used the transmission and power systems to ensure reliability,” said Dave Brown, Transmission Operations control manager. “With these new controls, we can operate the grid more optimally and free up flexibility for balancing reserves or secondary sales.”
This project, along with several others in the grid modernization portfolio including the metering review update and the federal data and generation dispatch modernization, are helping to develop a consistent, common methodology between the federal agencies to increase efficiency. Going forward, the project will require substantial coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation to further improve system visibility and enhance real-time control of the grid.
“The bottom line is that this AGC enhancement and the subsequent improvements we’ll be making to the system will help us to realize more of the value in both the Federal Columbia River Transmission and Power systems,” said Steve Kerns, the grid modernization director for the Business Transformation Office at BPA.
Future upgrades to the AGC system will include generation dispatch improvements and ensuring compatibility with the California Independent System Operator processes as part of preparing BPA for potentially participating in the Western Energy Imbalance Market. BPA’s final decision on whether to join the EIM will come in late 2021.
“Improving our AGC system, along with our metering review and collaborative work with the Corps and Bureau, is all about optimizing both the capacity and flexibility of our power and transmission assets,” Kerns said. “This work is foundational to future grid modernization projects, including those related to the EIM.”
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