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April 7, 2011 Evaluating and Maintaining Existing Substation Grounding Systems by Rob Schaerer, P.E.

April 7, 2011

April 7, 2011 Evaluating and Maintaining Existing Substation Grounding Systems by Rob Schaerer, P.E.

Evaluating and Maintaining Existing Substation Grounding Systems

by Rob Schaerer, P.E.

April 7, 2011 Evaluating and Maintaining Existing Substation Grounding Systems by Rob Schaerer, P.E.
April 7, 2011 Evaluating and Maintaining Existing Substation Grounding Systems by Rob Schaerer, P.E.

Outline of Topics

• Why grounding is important

Outline of Topics • Why grounding is important – What are we looking at – Basic

– What are we looking at

– Basic grounding system design process

• Considerations for existing substations

– Previous analysis

– Verification of previous study and data

– Mitigation

– Testing

– Maintenance Plans

– Previous analysis – Verification of previous study and data – Mitigation – Testing – Maintenance

Personnel Protection – Voltages

• Touch/step voltages

– Touch voltage

– Voltages • Touch/step voltages – Touch voltage • Voltage difference between equipment being touched and

• Voltage difference between equipment being touched and the ground at your feet

• Typically limited to a reach distance of three feet (or one meter)

– Step voltage

• Voltage difference in ground between your feet as you are standing or walking

• Typically limited to a stride of three feet (or one meter)

in ground between your feet as you are standing or walking • Typically limited to a

Personnel Protection – Voltages

Touch Voltage Scenario

Step Voltage Scenario

– Voltages Touch Voltage Scenario Step Voltage Scenario SLG Fault SLG Fault 200 Volts 100 Volts
SLG Fault SLG Fault 200 Volts 100 Volts Equipment Voltage 1000 V Voltage Voltage Voltage
SLG Fault
SLG Fault
200 Volts
100 Volts
Equipment
Voltage
1000 V
Voltage
Voltage
Voltage
at Foot
at Foot
at Foot
800 V
900 V
800 V
Grid
Grid
1000 V
1000 V
Voltage 1000 V Voltage Voltage Voltage at Foot at Foot at Foot 800 V 900 V

Behavior of Substation Under Fault Conditions

• Ground Potential Rise

– V = I * R

Fault Conditions • Ground Potential Rise – V = I * R • Fault current into

• Fault current into the grounding system times resistance to “remote earth”

– Voltage magnitude determines grounding system performance

• Primarily used for personnel compliance

• Can also damage equipment

– Basis for determining touch and step voltages

Primarily used for personnel compliance • Can also damage equipment – Basis for determining touch and

Behavior of Substation Under Fault Conditions

Behavior of Substation Under Fault Conditions • Ground Potential Rise (GPR) = I * R Transmission

• Ground Potential Rise (GPR) = I * R

Transmission Line Source SLG Substation Fault (I) Resistance to Remote Earth (R)
Transmission Line
Source
SLG
Substation
Fault
(I)
Resistance
to Remote
Earth
(R)
Potential Rise (GPR) = I * R Transmission Line Source SLG Substation Fault (I) Resistance to

Process of Designing a Grounding System

Process of Designing a Grounding System • Gather and analyze soil data • Obtain fault data

• Gather and analyze soil data

• Obtain fault data

• Develop preliminary grounding system design

• Analyze design for touch and step voltage performance, plus impedance and GPR

• Perform mitigation until touch and step voltage compliance are met

• Add additional equipment specific grounding

• Test the installed grounding system to verify performance

• Reexamine the grounding system in the future

grounding • Test the installed grounding system to verify performance • Reexamine the grounding system in

Considerations for Existing Substations

Considerations for Existing Substations
Considerations for Existing Substations

Considerations for Existing Substations

Considerations for Existing Substations • Was an analysis ever preformed? – Many older substations were built

• Was an analysis ever preformed?

– Many older substations were built on “rules of thumb”

– If not, most practical approach is to analyze before acting

• Is the previous analysis still valid?

– Has the system changed?

– Did the study use accurate data?

• Testing to validate performance

• Maintenance plans

– Has the system changed? – Did the study use accurate data? • Testing to validate

Examining Previous Analysis - Fault

• Fault currents

Examining Previous Analysis - Fault • Fault currents – Maximum single-line-to-ground fault – Often increases with

– Maximum single-line-to-ground fault

– Often increases with time as the system strengthens

– As fault current increases, touch and step voltages increase proportionally

• Clearing time (backup)

– Protection failure

– Breaker failure

– Consider worst case scenario (longest clearing delay time) and use for grounding analysis

failure – Breaker failure – Consider worst case scenario (longest clearing delay time) and use for

Examining Previous Analysis - Soil

Examining Previous Analysis - Soil • Soil information has large impact on overall result, but is

• Soil information has large impact on overall result, but is typically the most inaccurate or incomplete data

– Soil data often collected by geotechnical or other firms that have limited understanding of how data is used for grounding analysis

• Measurements are often insignificant (not enough data measured)

– Data collection process often produces errors that may not be expected by experienced engineers or testers

• Examining the raw data can help validate the measurements

– Analysis of soil data measurements is both an art and a science

• Older techniques often involved a uniform soil approximation, or sometimes a two layer model that may be insufficient

• Older techniques often involved a uniform soil approximation, or sometimes a two layer model that

Soil Resistivity Tests

Soil Resistivity Tests • Characterize soil by the electrical resistivity – Soil resistivity data is the

• Characterize soil by the electrical resistivity

– Soil resistivity data is the key factor in designing a grounding system for a specific performance objective

– Some soils have good electrical conductivity (low resistivity) while the majority has poor electrical conductivity

– Varies widely throughout the country and world

– Can changes dramatically within small areas

• Soil resistivity is mainly influenced by:

– The type of soil (clay, sand, rock, etc.)

– Moisture content and temperature

– Amount of electrolytes (minerals and dissolved salt)

(clay, sand, rock, etc.) – Moisture content and temperature – Amount of electrolytes (minerals and dissolved

Soil Testing – Resistivity Test Set

Soil Testing – Resistivity Test Set
Soil Testing – Resistivity Test Set
Soil Testing – Resistivity Test Set

Wenner Resistivity Test Set-Up

Source V a a a a a a
Source
V
a
a
a
a
a
a

Black lines are current injected Red lines are voltages measured As the probes are spread out further, the deeper the measurements will go

current injected Red lines are voltages measured As the probes are spread out further, the deeper
current injected Red lines are voltages measured As the probes are spread out further, the deeper

Why Soil Data Is So Important

• Example – Full Data

– Substation Size is 300’ by 300’

Why Soil Data Is So Important • Example – Full Data – Substation Size is 300’
Why Soil Data Is So Important • Example – Full Data – Substation Size is 300’
Why Soil Data Is So Important • Example – Full Data – Substation Size is 300’

Why Soil Data Is So Important (cont.)

Why Soil Data Is So Important (cont.) • Soil model with all data: LEGEND Measured Data

• Soil model with all data:

LEGEND Measured Data Computed Results Curve Soil Model

LEGEND

Measured Data Computed Results Curve Soil Model

Measurement Method

:

Wenner

RMS error

:

10.46%

Layer

Resistivity

(Ohm-m)

3 10 2 10 1 10 10 -1 10 0 10 1 10 2 10
3
10
2
10
1
10
10 -1
10 0
10 1
10 2
10 3
Apparent Resistivity (Ohm-meters)

Thickness

(Feet

)

Number

====== ============== ==============

Air

Infinite

Infinite

2 227.3146

16.94758

3 39.58773

31.73768

4 515.6556

infinite

3 39.58773 31.73768 4 515.6556 infinite Inter-Electrode Spacing (feet) • Grounding System

Inter-Electrode Spacing (feet)

• Grounding System Impedance is 1.07 ohms

Why Soil Data Is So Important (cont.)

Why Soil Data Is So Important (cont.) • Soil model with only the first 50’ of

• Soil model with only the first 50’ of measurements:

LEGEND Measured Data Computed Results Curve Soil Model

LEGEND

Measured Data Computed Results Curve Soil Model

Measurement Method

:

Wenner

RMS error

:

8.26%

Layer

Resistivity

(Ohm-m)

3 10 2 10 1 10 10 -1 10 0 10 1 10 2 Apparent
3
10
2
10
1
10
10 -1
10 0
10 1
10 2
Apparent Resistivity (Ohm-meters)

Thickness

(Feet

)

Number

====== ============== ==============

Air

Infinite

Infinite

2 209.4786

25.52040

3 15.40446

infinite

2 209.4786 25.52040 3 15.40446 infinite Inter-Electrode Spacing (feet) • Grounding Impedance is

Inter-Electrode Spacing (feet)

• Grounding Impedance is 0.28 ohms (~1/4 of actual)

Examining Previous Analysis - Conductor

• Conductor size and ampacity

Analysis - Conductor • Conductor size and ampacity – For a given fault duration and X/R

– For a given fault duration and X/R ratio, grounding conductor can only carry a given amount of fault current without fusing

– Older substations may have used small conductor (such as #1/0 AWG)

– Largest concern is the equipment leads (stingers)

• One may carry full fault current

• Once the current is in the main grid, the current splits in multiple directions

• One may carry full fault current • Once the current is in the main grid,

Examining Previous Analysis - Conductor

Examining Previous Analysis - Conductor • From IEEE Standard 80-2000
Examining Previous Analysis - Conductor • From IEEE Standard 80-2000

• From IEEE Standard 80-2000

Examining Previous Analysis - Conductor • From IEEE Standard 80-2000

Examining Previous Analysis - Surfacing

• Crushed rock surfacing

Previous Analysis - Surfacing • Crushed rock surfacing – Adds additional impedance to current flowing through

– Adds additional impedance to current flowing through body

• Increases allowable touch and step voltages

SLG Fault

– Adds additional impedance to current flowing through body • Increases allowable touch and step voltages
– Adds additional impedance to current flowing through body • Increases allowable touch and step voltages
– Adds additional impedance to current flowing through body • Increases allowable touch and step voltages

Examining Previous Analysis - Surfacing

• Crushed rock surfacing, cont.

Analysis - Surfacing • Crushed rock surfacing, cont. – Also provides clean surface for preventing vegetation,

– Also provides clean surface for preventing vegetation, etc.

– Washing the material of fines improves performance

– Typically a crushed rock or gravel (3/4” – 2”)

– Thickness of 3-6 inches is typical

– Should extend beyond the substation fence and gate swings

– Must be maintained over time to keep free of contamination (soil) and vegetation, as well as thickness and coverage

– Must be maintained over time to keep free of contamination (soil) and vegetation, as well

Mitigation of Non Compliant Designs

Mitigation of Non Compliant Designs
Mitigation of Non Compliant Designs

Mitigation of Non Compliant Designs

Mitigation of Non Compliant Designs • Basic design approaches • Check fault current distribution • Optimal

• Basic design approaches

• Check fault current distribution

• Optimal selection of mitigation approaches

– Horizontal ground conductors

– Ground rods

– Ground wells

– Surfacing improvements

of mitigation approaches – Horizontal ground conductors – Ground rods – Ground wells – Surfacing improvements

Considerations for Existing Substations

Considerations for Existing Substations
Considerations for Existing Substations

Considerations for Existing Substations

Considerations for Existing Substations • Was an analysis ever preformed? – Many older substations were built

• Was an analysis ever preformed?

– Many older substations were built on “rules of thumb”

– If not, most practical approach is to analyze before acting

• Is the previous analysis still valid?

– Has the system changed?

– Did the study use accurate data?

• Testing to validate performance

• Maintenance plans

– Has the system changed? – Did the study use accurate data? • Testing to validate

Grounding Design Basics

• Grounding layout basics

Grounding Design Basics • Grounding layout basics – Entire substation area should be encompassed • Minimize

– Entire substation area should be encompassed

• Minimize resistance of system (proportional to area of grounding system)

– Layout should extend 3 feet beyond substation fence, including outward swing of gates

to area of grounding system) – Layout should extend 3 feet beyond substation fence, including outward
to area of grounding system) – Layout should extend 3 feet beyond substation fence, including outward

Grounding Design Basics (cont.)

• Conductor Spacing/Layout

Grounding Design Basics (cont.) • Conductor Spacing/Layout – Typically laid out in a square grid covering

– Typically laid out in a square grid covering station

• Typical spacings vary from 10’ to 50’

– Depends on soil, fault current, station size

• Large areas without equipment can be left uncovered if there are no step voltage issues

• A denser grid towards outside of substation is more effective

– Worst case touch voltages occur at the corners of the grid (when uniform spacing)

of substation is more effective – Worst case touch voltages occur at the corners of the

Grounding Design Basics (cont.)

Grounding Design Basics (cont.)
Grounding Design Basics (cont.)
Grounding Design Basics (cont.)

Fault Current Distribution (FCD)

Fault Current Distribution (FCD) • Most conservative case is to assume all current returns to source

• Most conservative case is to assume all current returns to source through grounding system

– Not a practical representation in many cases

– Fault current will take any path available

• Transmission line shield wires

• Distribution neutrals

• Other metallic paths tied to grounding system

– These other paths are in parallel with the ground

• Effectively reduces return path impedance

• In turn, lowers the substation GPR

– Effects are most significant where poor soil exists at the substation (resulting in a high grounding system impedance)

– Effects are most significant where poor soil exists at the substation (resulting in a high

Fault Current Distribution Example

Fault Current Distribution Example • Fault current returns through all lines with shield wires • Both

• Fault current returns through all lines with shield wires

• Both directly on shield wires and through tower grounds

Transmission Lines with Shield Wire
Transmission Lines with Shield Wire

Faulted Substation

• Returns to source substation(s)

tower grounds Transmission Lines with Shield Wire Faulted Substation • Returns to source substation(s) Source Substation

Source

Substation

Optimal Mitigation Selection

Optimal Mitigation Selection • Ground rods vs. grid vs. ground wells – Primary goal is low

• Ground rods vs. grid vs. ground wells

– Primary goal is low impedance, therefore mitigation should target the lower resistivity soil

– Horizontal ground grid

• Works well when lower layers are higher resistivity – Install most copper in upper, low resistivity, layer

• Keeps surface closer to equipotential

• Trenching around existing equipment difficult at times

resistivity, layer • Keeps surface closer to equipotential • Trenching around existing equipment difficult at times

Existing Yard Installation

Existing Yard Installation
Existing Yard Installation
Existing Yard Installation

Optimal Mitigation Selection(cont.)

Optimal Mitigation Selection (cont.) • Ground rods vs. grid vs. ground wells (cont.) – Ground rods

• Ground rods vs. grid vs. ground wells

(cont.)

– Ground rods

• Most effective when top layer is higher resistivity and fairly lower resistivity layers are below

• Can be useful where water table is < 20’ deep

• Can also extend effective size of substation and pull touch voltages down

• Typically should not be placed closer together than length of rod as effectiveness decreases

• Also can be difficult to install around existing equipment

together than length of rod as effectiveness decreases • Also can be difficult to install around

Optimal Mitigation Selection(cont.)

Optimal Mitigation Selection (cont.) • Ground rods vs. grid vs. ground wells (cont.) – Ground wells

• Ground rods vs. grid vs. ground wells (cont.)

– Ground wells

• Most expensive option

• Involves drilling a hole (typically 6”) to a significant depth (can vary from 50-500+ feet)

• Goal is to reach a deeper lower resistivity layer (or water table)

• May use a steel casing or be free standing (in stable/firm soils)

• Typically backfilled with low resistivity material (bentonite, carbon, concrete/bentonite slurry)

• Typically installed near the edges of the substation, away from equipment

carbon, concrete/bentonite slurry) • Typically installed near the edges of the substation, away from equipment

Optimal Mitigation Selection - Surfacing

Optimal Mitigation Selection - Surfacing • Crushed rock can be added if not already present •

• Crushed rock can be added if not already present

• Existing rock can be washed or thickness increased

• Asphalt is occasionally used

– Provides much better electrical performance

– Makes future improvements more difficult

Asphalt is occasionally used – Provides much better electrical performance – Makes future improvements more difficult

Testing

Testing
Testing

Testing

• Fall-of-Potential (FOP)

Testing • Fall-of-Potential (FOP) – Measures grounding system impedance • Touch and Step Voltage Checks –

– Measures grounding system impedance

• Touch and Step Voltage Checks

– Verify touch and step voltages

• Point-to-Point Resistance Tests

– Check continuity of conductors

• Soil Resistivity Measurements

– Validate data if in question

Resistance Tests – Check continuity of conductors • Soil Resistivity Measurements – Validate data if in

Testing - Grounding System Impedance

• Fall-of-Potential (FOP)

- Grounding System Impedance • Fall-of-Potential (FOP) – Measures resistance of grounding system after

– Measures resistance of grounding system after installation

• Inject a current into grid and collect in remote current return probe placed at 3-6.5x the system diagonal (6.5x preferred)

• Voltage probe distance varied from 10% - 100% of current probe distance

• Resistance (V/I) of each point plotted versus distance

• Curve flattens around 61.8% (demonstrating grounding system resistance) with a 0 degree test

– Point varies based on soil structure (Standard 81-1983)

grounding system resistance) with a 0 degree test – Point varies based on soil structure (Standard

RESISTANCE (OHMS

Fall-of-Potential Test Set-Up

RESISTANCE (OHMS Fall-of-Potential Test Set-Up Substation Grounding System Impedance 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
RESISTANCE (OHMS Fall-of-Potential Test Set-Up Substation Grounding System Impedance 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

Substation Grounding System Impedance

6

5

4

3

2

1

0

0

Test Set-Up Substation Grounding System Impedance 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 0 500 1000

500

1000

1500

2000

PROBE SPACING

2500

3000

3500

4000

Test Set-Up Substation Grounding System Impedance 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 0 500 1000

Testing – Touch and Step Voltages

• Touch and step voltage check

– Touch and Step Voltages • Touch and step voltage check – Performed rarely, generally requires

– Performed rarely, generally requires injection of significant test current to provide reasonable voltage levels

– Can be done in conjunction with FOP test

• Inject a current similar to the FOP test

• For touch voltages, measure voltage between any equipment of concern and a test probe placed just into the soil surface 3 feet from the equipment

• For step voltages, measure the voltage between any two points in the substation with probes placed just into the soil, separated by three feet

the voltage between any two points in the substation with probes placed just into the soil,

Testing – Connectivity

• Point-to-point resistance check

Testing – Connectivity • Point-to-point resistance check – Used to verify that all equipment is attached

– Used to verify that all equipment is attached solidly to the main grounding system

– Select a reference point (often a piece of equipment with multiple grounds) and measure resistance between all grounded objects and the reference

– Since resistance is primarily of the lead, value should be very low (less than one ohm)

– If resistance is very high, a second equipment connection can be added to the main grid, or the existing can be replaced.

If resistance is very high, a second equipment connection can be added to the main grid,

Maintenance of Existing Grounding

Maintenance of Existing Grounding • Maintenance of grounding systems after installation is often overlooked • In

• Maintenance of grounding systems after installation is often overlooked

• In 2005, a IEEE PES task force surveyed utilities about maintenance of substation grounding systems

• Key Findings/Recommendations

• ~80% evaluate the grounding systems after they are installed

• Most of this examination only occurs after a problem happens, or when expanding the substation

• By proactively examining the grounding system (which very few do), many of these problems could be prevented in the first place

• Recommends a review of the grounding system regularly

• Those who have a plan perform it every five to ten years, and more often should there be concerns

• Interval of testing affected by age of the grounding system and characteristics of the soil (for example very low resistivity soils can be corrosive and degrade buried conductors over time)

of the soil (for example very low resistivity soils can be corrosive and degrade buried conductors

Maintenance Plan

• Typical plan involves:

Maintenance Plan • Typical plan involves: • Visual inspection of all above grade connections • Point-to-point

• Visual inspection of all above grade connections

• Point-to-point resistance test

• Fall-of-potential grounding system impedance test

• Surface layer visual inspection

• Thickness and cleanliness (resistivity test if needed)

• Reanalysis of design when significant system changes occur

• Thickness and cleanliness (resistivity test if needed) • Reanalysis of design when significant system changes

Example – Unique Substation

Example – Unique Substation
Example – Unique Substation

Example – Unique Substation

Example – Unique Substation
Example – Unique Substation

Example – Soil Resistivity Test

Example – Soil Resistivity Test
Example – Soil Resistivity Test
Example – Soil Resistivity Test

Example – Point-to-Point Test

Example – Point-to-Point Test
Example – Point-to-Point Test
Example – Point-to-Point Test

Example – Point-to-Point Test

Example – Point-to-Point Test GROUND SYSTEM LAYOUT 39 49 56 34 36 40 42 44 45
GROUND SYSTEM LAYOUT 39 49 56 34 36 40 42 44 45 51 53 57
GROUND SYSTEM LAYOUT
39
49
56
34
36
40
42 44
45
51 53
57 59
33
47
35
37
38
41
43 48
46
52 54
55
58 60
50
30
22
32
24
18
15
31
23
25
19
16
27
29
26
20
17
13
28
,R
14
21
3
12
11
10
9
8,
7
6
R2
5
4
3
2
1,
R1
24 18 15 31 23 25 19 16 27 29 26 20 17 13 28 ,R
24 18 15 31 23 25 19 16 27 29 26 20 17 13 28 ,R

Conclusions

Conclusions • Substation grounding is critical for protection of personnel and equipment • Some older substations

• Substation grounding is critical for protection of personnel and equipment

• Some older substations were built with little analysis and/or data

• Grounding can degrade over time

• Systems (fault current) change over time

• Periodic maintenance and testing is required to ensure the grounding system continues to serve its purpose

over time • Periodic maintenance and testing is required to ensure the grounding system continues to

Questions/Comments

Questions/Comments Rob Schaerer, P.E. – POWER Engineers, Inc. – (858) 503-5975 ext. 2237 –
Questions/Comments Rob Schaerer, P.E. – POWER Engineers, Inc. – (858) 503-5975 ext. 2237 –
Questions/Comments Rob Schaerer, P.E. – POWER Engineers, Inc. – (858) 503-5975 ext. 2237 –

Rob Schaerer, P.E. – POWER Engineers, Inc. – (858) 503-5975 ext. 2237 – robert.schaerer@powereng.com