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O. Penangsang, S.S. Matair*, Sidaryanto, M. Pujiantara, D. Chandra

Department of Electrical Engineering, Institute of Technology Sepuluh Nopember (ITS)

Kampus ITS, Surabaya, Indonesia 60111
E-mail :

*Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies Australia (CRESTA)

School of Electrical Engineering, Curtin University of Technology, Australia


This paper presents a case study of sustained interruptions caused by unintentional tripping of ground
fault relays, and describes the causes of such phenomena which is known as sympathetic tripping. The
configuration of distribution network, the aging effect on under ground cables used for feeders, the
capacitive current discharged by cable capacitance, and the ground fault relay setting are analyzed. The
part of the system having the sympathetic tripping phenomena had been simulated and analyzed using
ETAP (power system analysis software). The ground fault simulation showed that the voltage
increased up to more than 170% of the nominal voltage. Frequent application of such over voltages
on cables might cause the insulation to age and large leakage current to flow (temporary insulation
break down) leading to permanent insulation break down. The long and old 13.8 kV feeder cables
increased the discharged capacitive currents greater than the ground fault relay setting when a ground
fault occurred. Such phenomena could be the cause of sympathetic tripping.

KEYWORDS : Power quality, sustained interruption, sympathetic tripping, discharged capacitive current, relay
setting, insulation break down.

1. INTRODUCTION about the quality of electric power [1-3]. The sources

of electric power quality for a steady state condition,
An interruption occurs when the supply voltage or are : sustained interruption, under/over voltage , low
load current decreases to less than 0.1 pu. for a power factor, harmonic distortion and voltage
period of time not exceeding 1 min. Interruptions can imbalance [4-8]. The issues of Power Quality are not
be the results of power system faults, equipment necessarily new. What is new is that engineers are
failures, and control malfunctions. The duration of an now attempting to deal with these issues with a
interruption due to a fault on the utility system is systems approach rather than as individual problems
determined by the operating time of utility protective [9-13].
devices. Delayed reclosing of the protective device An identification of characteristics and patterns of
may cause a momentary or temporary interruption. disturbance in the 20 kV East Java Distribution
When the supply voltage has been zero for a period of System, especially in the Surabaya area, was presented
time in excess of 1 min, the long-duration voltage in an earlier paper. The identification process is one
variation is considered a sustained interruption. of the efforts for analysing the existence of the
Voltage interruptions longer than 1 min. are often disturbance and the power quality in the 20 kV
permanent and require human intervention to repair Surabaya Distribution System [14].
the system for restoration. Sustained interruption is This paper presents a case study of sustained
one of the major types of power system disturbances interruptions caused by unintentional tripping of
related to Power Quality diagnostics. One of the ground fault relays in the electrical distribution system
reasons for the growing concerns with Power Quality of PT. Badak NGL (PTB), Bontang. Such relay
is the complexity of industrial processes: The restart malfunction is known as sympathetic tripping. This
up of these industries is a very costly affair. kind of malfunction had disrupted the production
In Indonesia, both electric utilities and end users of process in PT. Badak NGL. This study represents an
electrical power (especially commercial and effort to solve Power Quality problems, i.e. the
industrial users) are becoming increasingly concerned sustained interruptions.
3E1g j3E1g
CAPACITIVE CURRENT) E 1g = source phase-to-neutral voltage.
Fault current can be calculated by symmetrical
component analysis. Using this method, phase-to- 3. SIMULATION AND ANALYSIS
ground faults are calculated by connecting the
positive, negative, and zero-sequence networks in The basis of this ground fault relay malfunction
series and solving for Io (zero sequence current). The study is the historical data on ground faults that
equivalent positive and negative sequence resulted in the sympathetic tripping phenomena as
impedances of the system and the zero-sequence well as in no such phenomena. The simulation and
impedance of the source are extremely small, as analysis are limited to configurations of the
compared to the neutral resistor equivalent circuit and distribution networks, aging of the under ground
the distributed zero-capacitance, and therefore can be cables, and relay settings/co-ordinations. The PTB
neglected. The equivalent circuit will then be that electrical distribution system where the ground fault
shown in Figure 1, which includes the fault current relay malfunctions occurred is simulated and
contribution from zero-capacitance of unfaulted analyzed.
Cable capacitance and capacitive current
The capacitance of under ground cables used in the
Xoc calculation of discharged capacitive current is the
I0C (unfaultedfeeder) manufacturer’s rated values. The calculated discharged
capacitive currents at the instant the ground fault
occurred, are shown in Tables 1a and 1b.

I0 Ground Fault Relay Setting

Based on the calculation of capacitive currents
(Idischarge) flowing in the feeders that experienced
sympathetic tripping phenomena, the ground fault
I0n 3Rn I0C Xoc E1g relay setting of each feeder is analyzed. When a
ground fault occurred, the calculated capacitive
currents show that the feeders will not trip for normal
Figure 1. Reduced symmetrical component operating condition (tie-breaker of Cooling Water bus
equivalent circuit. is open), although a few capacitive currents are close
enough to the setting of relay (15 Amps), as shown in
Table 1.a.
I o = I on + I oc (1)
When tie-breaker of Cooling Water bus was open, a
I o = total zero-sequence fault current few feeders had tripped, where the relays should not
pick up and tripped the feeders. This might be due to
I on = zero-sequence current flowing in the neutral the change in cable capacitance which increases the
resistor capacitive currents greater than the relay setting,
I oc = zero-sequence current flowing in the especially in the transient period and due to the
existence of DC component during the occurrence of a
distributed capacitance.
When the tie-breaker of Cooling Water is closed, two
The total fault current If is equal to 3I o , which is feeders would trip due to the increase of capacitive
equal to I n +Ic currents from the surge capacitors installed on the
(five) motors of Cooling Water as shown in Table 1.b.
The current through the source neutral is Generators in PTB except for 31PG-7 are grounded by
connecting the neutral of Wye connected windings to
3E1g E1g ground through neutral grounding resistor (NGR).
I n = 3I on = = (2)
3R n Rn

The fault current contribution from the capacitance

(discharged capacitive current) is
Table 1a. Tripping status of ground fault relays Degradation of Cable Insulation Strength Due To
( Tie Breaker of Cooling Water bus is Open) Aging and Applications of Over Voltages
The effect of aging on cables may degrade the
Symp. Idischarge Feeder insulation strength to the point of failure and may
tripped fdr (A) should result in current leakage. The use of low resistance
NGR for generator grounding system would increase
30FDR-12 15 A; 0.1s 3.22 Not trip the bus voltage of the unfaulted phases ( >170%) when
30FDR-16 15 A; 0.5s 11.03 Not trip a ground fault occurs. Frequent application of such
over voltages on cables may cause the insulation to age
30FDR-18 15 A; 0.1s 14.70 Not trip and large leakage current to flow leading to permanent
30FDR-26 15 A; 0.5s 13.07 Not trip insulation failure to happen.
The case when sympathetic tripping occurred on feeder
30FDR-28 15 A; 0.1s 12.35 Not trip 30FDR-46 (November 03, 1998) due to a ground fault
30FDR-46 15A; TD=3 14.37 Not trip on generator terminal (bus 30PS-4), the feeder itself
has a time-inverse GE-IAC53 relay installed. This
might due to temporary flash-over (large leakage
Table 1b. Tripping status of ground fault relays current) on cable insulation. The analysis of such
( Tie Breaker of Cooling Water bus is Closed) phenomena is the following :

Symp. Idischarge Feeder 1. First, the occurrence of ground fault on feeder

Setting 30FDR-46 (July 30, 1996) was caused by a
tripped fdr (A) should
“backhoe”. Then the cable was repaired and the
30FDR-12 15 A; 0.1s 3.22 Not trip test on the junction showed :
30FDR-16 15 A; 0.5s 16.66 Trip
% PF (2/4/8KV) : less then 0.1 (good/
30FDR-18 15 A; 0.1s 14.70 Not trip satisfactory until next year test).
30FDR-26 15 A; 0.5s 16.82 Trip
2. Ground fault occurred on motor 32GM-9
30FDR-28 15 A; 0.1s 12.35 Not trip (September 02, 1997) did not result in sympathetic
30FDR-46 15A; TD=3 14.37 Not trip tripping. Motor 32GM -9 was connected to bus
30PS-4, therefore the increase of voltage during
the occurrence of the fault on that bus would of
The main three winding transformers are grounded course increase the voltage of the other feeders
through Zig-Zag connected grounding transformers connected to bus 30PS-4, including feeder
with NGRs also. The NGRs would of course limit the 30FDR-46. Such over voltage might degrade the
ground fault currents and were simulated for different insulation strength of the cable.
mode of operations using ETAP (power system mode
software). 3. The next test on feeder 30FDR-46 was performed
The first mode of operation was simulated on the on September 30, 1998 and showed good results :
main switch gear with all generators in operation
except for 31DG-1 (stand by generator). The NGRs [The accepted standard for megger test results on
of generators and transformers were on line. The cable insulation is (kV nominal) *1MOhm+
second mode of operation was simulated on the main 1MOhm. It means if the cable has voltage rating
switch gear with all generators in operation. On each of 13.8 kV, thus the minimum measured value of
main switch gear only one NGR of the generators was
cable insulation should indicate (13.8/ 3 *
on line and all NGRs of the grounding
transformers were on line. The third mode of 1MOhm + 1 ~ 9 MOhm for phase to ground
operation was simulated on the main switch gear with
all generators in operation. On each main switch gear Megger test (30FDR-46A/B) results:
only one NGR of the generators was on line and all L1 to Ground: 1500 MOhm.
L2 to Ground: 900 MOhm.
NGRs of the grounding transformers were off line.
The simulation result shows that the voltage of the L3 to Ground: 500 MOhm.
unfaulted phases increases up to more than 170% of
The test results showed that the cable insulation is
the nominal voltage, and that NGR configurations do
not affect the increased voltage of unfaulted phases, still in good condition, and the value is far above
therefore the capacitive currents are the same for the the required standard. There is no chance of
failure to happen (insulation breakdown).
three mode of operations.
4. On November 03, 1998, a ground fault occurred relay malfunction (sympathetic tripping phenomena) in
on a terminal of generator 31PG-7 and followed PTB electrical distribution system :
by a sympathetic tripping on feeder 30FDR-46,
due to the degradation of cable insulation which Increase the setting of ground fault relays
resulted in large leakage current to flow
Increase the setting of ground fault relays of all feeders
(temporary insulation break down) from phase to
from 15 Amps to 24 Amps. This is done either for
ground (the current might reach 500 Amps
feeders that had experienced sympathetic tripping or
maximum). Such large current would make 51GS
for those that had not. The reason why resetting should
[GE-IAC53] relay to trip the feeder 30FDR-46.
be done on relays of all feeders is to avoid the ground
Such cable failure can be seen from the test
fault relays to pick up since capacitive currents might
results which show degradation of cable
increase due to the effects of aging on cables. The new
insulation strength compared with the test done
setting would guarantee that the relays pick up only
on September 30, 1998.
when the cables experience permanent insulation
Megger 5000 Volt:
The new setting takes into account the existence of
Phase A : 7.5 MOhm.
capacitive currents discharged from the cable
Phase B : 5 MOhm.
capacitance and surge capacitors installed on motors.
Phase C : 7.5 MOhm.
The new setting would not change the overall
Hypot Test :
protection system coordination.
Cable A (30FDR-46A),
Phase 1 : 8KV/2500microA
Replace the existing ground fault relay type.
Phase 2 : 8KV/2500microA
Phase 3 : 8KV/2500microA The existing ground fault relays in PTB distribution
Cable B (30FDR-46B) system have L-Curve characteristic (except for feeder
Phase 1 : 27.7KV/700 microA 30FDR-46). The setting is 15 Amps and as shown by
Phase 2 : 28KV/1400 microA the historical data, sympathetic trippings occurred. The
Phase 3 : 28 KV/1550 microA. second solution is to replace the existing ground fault
relay type of all feeders (L-Curve with Inverse-Time).
The test results show that the minimum insulation Using the Inverse Time characteristic means the
value is 5 MOhm for the test voltage of 5000 V. tripping time of the relay depends on the current value.
However the Hi-pot test shows a leakage current Capacitive current discharged by cable capacitance
as high as 2500 micro Amperes on cable A. when a ground fault occurs, is very small compared
Therefore, the cable insulation resistance can be with the ground fault current (15 Amps vs 600 Amps),
Calculated as : so that relay on the faulted feeder would trip first to
8 kV eliminate the fault and the unfaulted feeder would not
R isolation = = 3200000 Ω = 3 . 2 M Ω trip. The unfaulted feeder might trip if temporary
2500 uA insulation break down occurs on the cable due to the
application of over voltage during a ground fault.
(according to the accepted standard, it should be 9
Mohm minimum) Replace feeder cables
If this cable is still being used, although operated
on its nominal voltage, the possibility of the cable The analysis shows that sympathetic tripping might
to experience temporary insulation break down or occur on a feeder that had experienced ground faults
even the permanent one is high. before, which might degrade cable insulation strength.
This means cables might experience temporary fault
5. On November 24, 1998, a ground fault occurred due to insulation material degradation. The rate of
on cable ‘A' of feeder 30FDR-46. This is the insulation degradation depends on how frequent the
result of the foregoing faults that had occurred application of over voltages due to ground fault on the
which slowly degrade the insulation strength of cables. By re-setting the relays, we might be able to
cables to the point of failure, and finally a avoid sympathetic tripping. The analysis also shows
permanent insulation break down occurred as that feeders which have been operated for more than
shown in Figure 2. 15 years, and have not experienced sympathetic
tripping are potential to experience such phenomena.
4. SOLUTIONS AND RECOMENDATIONS By replacing the cables, we can eliminate sympathetic
tripping, as well as false trip (malfunction) due to
Based on the simulations and analysis, the following temporary insulation failure.
are possible solutions for eliminating the ground fault
30-Jul-96 Megger test (30FDR-46A/B):
30FDR-46 tripped due to IKPT L1 to Gr: 1500 MOhm.
backhoe L2 to Gr : 900 MOhm.
02-Sep-97 24-Nov-98
L3 to Gr : 500 MOhm.
32 GM-9 (supplied from 30FDR- 30FDR-46 GF
44) GF short on motor terminal Insulation break
down on cable 'A'

31-Jul-96 03-Nov-98
30FDR-46 repaired Sympathetic trip caused by GF at 31GT-7
test result : generator terminal.
% PF (2/4/8KV) : less than 0.1 There is no action taken after fault, test result :
(good/satisfactory until next Megger 5000 Volt:
year test). Phase A : 7.5 MOhm.
Phase B : 5 MOhm.
Phase C : 7.5 MOhm

Figure 2. Time diagram of sympathetic tripping case for feeder 30FDR-46

Sympathetic trip occures at Sympathetic trip was not due to

Ground fault on cable, caused by
Normal operation of feeder, certain condition of operation, capacitive current, but due to
permanent flash -over.
sympathetic trips do not network configuration produces temporary flash-over.
occcur hight capacitance.

The degradation of cable

Period of permanent flash -over
insulation caused by over- Syimpathetic trip caused by Period of temporary flash-over
voltage during ground fault and capacitive current .
increasing of cable capacitance
value due to aging.

Establish monitoring/measurement Increase the relay setting to cover Replace the cable to avoid
of cable parameter such as high capacitive current. temporary flash-over
insulation strength, capacitance,
and relay calibration.

Figure 3. Time Diagram of Cable Insulation Failure

The insulation break down on cable that has been showing the sequence of events which result in cable
identified as sympathetic tripping is not absolutely insulation failure.
right, because when the temporary insulation
breakdown occurred the current flowed was as high 5. CONCLUSIONS
as the ground fault current in the system. In this case,
replacement of cable is meant for preventive action The conclusions based on the simulation results and
due to the fact that the cables have been on operation analysis are :
for more than 15 years. Those cables are potential to
experience temporary as well as permanent insulation 1. The configuration of the distribution networks
break down. The time diagram is given in Figure 3 that have very long 13.8 kV feeders and the
condition of the under ground cables used for
feeders that have been installed since about ITB Bandung, 1-4 Februari 1993.
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