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2005 IEEE/PES Transmission and Distribution

Conference & Exhibition: Asia and Pacific

Dalian, China

A Novel Approach to Distribution Network

Reconfiguration Considering the Priority of Customers
Shu Hongchun Sun Xiangfei

to the initial stage of restoration are taken into account

Abstract--This paper is concerned with distribution network adequately. First of all, due to the limited capacity of
reconfiguration in order to maintain load and generation available power in substation during the initial stage of
balance at acceptable frequency during the restoration process restoration, the priority of customers is considered
after a total or partial blackout. The problem is formulated as a emphatically. Secondly, load pickup in small increments
constrained multiple-objective optimization problem. ACO
tends to prolong the restoration duration. However, with large
algorithm is used to search the proper reconfiguration sequence
based on the PN model. The proposed method is designed with increments, there is always the risk of falling into frequency
consideration to the priority of customers emphatically. At the decline and recurrence of the system outage. Hence it is
same time, the restoration is accomplished as soon as possible by desirable to determine the magnitude of load blocks can be
minimizing the number of switching operations while the radial restored as a guideline for operators. Moreover, to cooperate
network structure is maintained. As a result, a feasible sequence with the procedure of the whole restoration, it should provide
of operations to reach the final configuration is outlined. The a feasible sequence of operations using a minimal number of
effectiveness of the proposed approach has been demonstrated switching operations while maintaining power balance
through the test system. between supply and demand and remaining the radial network
Index Terms--Ant Colony Optimization Algorithm
As a valuable graphical and mathematical modeling tool,
Distribution Network Reconfiguration, Power System
Restoration, Petri Net, Petri Net (PN) has gained increasing acceptance in modeling
of discrete event systems. In power systems, PN has been
INTRUDUCTION successfully applied in the areas of service restoration
scheduling [3], [4], fault section estimation [5], and power
A CCORDING to the general characteristics of restoration
process after a total or partial blackout, the restoration
can be divided to three stages: black-start, system
system protection [6]. With the form of graphic
representations, PN simulates the operations of a system
including their timing and sequence of the physical objects.
reconstruction and load recovery [1]. Although the aims of The knowledge and configuration of the study system can be
each stage are different, it is always necessary to maintain expressed systematically through a structured model with
system frequency within the allowable limits during the parallelism and synchronization. In [4], a rule-based expert
whole restoration duration. This is generally accomplished by system with colored PN models for distribution system
picking up loads in increments. Therefore, it is desirable to service restoration was established, in which the heuristic
provide a feasible scheme for distribution network rules were derived according to the rule of thumb of the
reconfiguration in order to maintain load and generation experienced operators.
balance at acceptable frequency. In this paper, the PN model is built to simulate the
The distribution network reconfiguration problem is operations of distribution network reconfiguration. Based on
formulated as a constrained multiple-objective optimization the simulation evaluation by the PN model, ant colony
problem. In the past, considerable efforts have been made optimization (ACO) algorithm is used to optimize the
towards service restoration through network reconfiguration. sequence of operations to minimize the number of switching
However, most of researches were developed for the purpose operations. However, only the problem without constrains
of restoring as much loads as possible by transferring de- can be solved by ACO algorithm. Therefore, Tabu list is used
energized loads in the out-of-service areas to other supporting to restrict violation of engineering and operation constrains in
distribution feeders without violating operation and the ACO algorithm.
engineering constrains [2].
In this paper a novel method for distribution network      
reconfiguration is proposed, in which some constrains related
The purpose of this paper is to determine a restoration
plan for distribution network reconfiguration and to assist the
This work was supported in part by National Natural Science decision making of dispatchers for the service restoration of
Foundation (50347026,50467002), Yunnan Key Technoligies Project
(2003GG10) and Yunnan Applied Base Research Project
out-of-service area during the initial stage of power system
(2002E0025M,2004E0020M) . restoration. In the initial stage of power system restoration,
Shu Hongchun is with Kunming University of Science and Technology, light loaded high and extra high voltage lines produce a large
Kunming 650051 China; amount of Mvar, if the on-line generation is not adequate,
Sun Xiangfei is with Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150001
then a certain amount loads need to be picked up to avoid
sustained overvoltage [7]. In practice, distribution dispatchers

0-7803-9114-4/05/$20.00 ©2005 IEEE. 1


need to restore service to the outage areas as quickly as transition may or may not fire. A firing of an enabled
possible with a minimal number of switching operations. transition removes token from one of its input places, and
However, due to the limited capacity of available power in adds token to one of its output places. The movement of
substation during the initial stage of restoration, the priority tokens through the PN graph represents the flow of
of customers is considered emphatically. information or control in the system.
The service restoration problem with priority customers
B. The ACO Algorithm
through network reconfiguration is formulated as a
constrained non-differentiable multi-objective optimization ACO algorithm imitates the behaviors of real ants. As is
problem. The following objectives are considered: well known, real ants are capable of finding shortest path
1) It must restore as many customers as possible while from food sources to the nest without using visual cues. They
considering priority customers. are also capable of adapting to changes in the environment,
2) The restoration should be accomplished as soon as for example, finding a new shortest path once the old one is
possible by minimizing the number of switching no longer feasible due to a new obstacle. Studies made by
operations. ethnologists have revealed that such capabilities ants have are
3) A feasible sequence of operations to reach the final essentially due to the aids of what is called pheromone. The
configuration should be outlined. pheromone is the material deposited by the ants, which serves
4) The radial network structure must be maintained. as critical communication media among ants, thereby guiding
5) It must not cause violations in either engineering or the determination of next movement. The ants are guided by
operating constraints. the amount of pheromone. Gradually, the path rich in
The service restoration problem is an NP-complete pheromone becomes the best tour, or as the solution to the
problem with discrete and continuous variables, where the problem. This concept incubates the emergence of ACO
discrete variables are network switch statuses and the algorithm. The detail depiction about ACO algorithm may
continuous variables are the network voltages and current refer to [9].
flows [8]. In [8], a ranking-based search method employing C. Solution Algorithm
analytical information obtained from three-phase power flow
In order to obtain an effective reconfiguration plan that
simulations was designed. In this paper, ACO algorithm is
restores as many customers as possible while minimizing the
used to search the proper reconfiguration plan based on the
number of switching operations, the duration for completion
PN model.
of restoration actions must be carefully estimated. In view of
this fact, a value what is called restorative operation cost is
allocated to each restoration path. The restorative operation
PETRI NET MODEL cost is related to the number of switching actions. On the
other hand, the load shedding strategy is constructed by the
A. The PN Model
priority levels of customers and the amount of important load
A PN is a particular kind of directed graph, which has within each service zone. Four priority levels are used to
two sets of nodes, i.e., place nodes and transition nodes, and define how important is each customer class [4]:
one set of directed arcs. Directed arcs are either from a place Level 1: customers that cause human life in danger (hospital,
node to a transition node or from a transition node to a place fire station, important telecommunications, etc.)
node. Fig. 1 depicts an example PN structure, in which place Level 2: customers that could result in serious financial
(P) nodes are denoted by a node of circle “ ”, transaction (T) damage or affect a large community (banks, oil refinery
nodes are represented by a bar “ ”, and a token of a place plants, high technology plants, etc.)
node is indicated by a black dot “ ” inside. P nodes represent Level 3: customers that could be affected by inconvenience
states and T nodes stand for the actions or tasks that are or public concern (schools, supermarkets, sport and
performed to change the system states. Therefore, by entertainment facilities, etc.)
representing events with transition nodes and conditions with Level 4: normal customers.
place nodes, a system may be mapped into a PN model. The
presence of a token in a place is interpreted as holding the
truth of the condition associated with the place. The only
advance according to the practice 
The priority of each service zone is determined in

The proposed algorithm can be described detailedly as

execution rule in a PN model is the rule for transition follows:
enabling and firing. A transition is said to be enabled if each Step 1. Construct the PN model for distribution network
input place of transition is marked with token. An enabled reconfiguration.
P1 Using bus data, line data and load data, nodes are
T1 P3 T2
created based on the principles described above. Acts are
P4 generated according to the rules of restoration.
T3 Step 2. Evaluate the restoration capacity of available power
in substation.
Because the capacity of available power in substation is
Fig. 1. An example PN model limited during the initial stage of restoration, it is desired to
know how many total loads can be restored as much as


possible. Otherwise, with large loads restoration, there is

always the risk of falling into frequency decline and
To validate the effectiveness of the proposed method, a
recurrence of the system outage. The maximal capacity of
typical distribution system [10] is selected for the computer
available power in substation is evaluated according to the simulation. As shown in Fig. 2, the system includes 3 buses,
generation and system conditions at given time. As a result,
16 nodes, 3 feeders and 3 connection switches.

the maximal load to be restored is noted as Lmax.
Step 3. Determine the customers that should be restored. Bs1 1 Bs2 2 Bs3 3
The feeders that serve more customers with higher
service priority will have better chance to be selected for Bk1 Bk2 Bk3

restoration. As the priority of each service zone is determined


in advance, which customers would be restored can be 5
1 9 11 12 13
12 13

determined according to the Lmax.
Step 4. Optimize the reconfiguration process.
Based on the customers that should be restored first,


7 8
ACO algorithm is used to realize the objectives as follow: 2 10

7 11

first, the restoration of as much priority load as possible,

second, the restoration of as much total load as possible, third,
the use of a minimal number of switches and forth, no
violations in either engineering or operating constraints. The
4 16 16

Fig. 2 16 nodes distribution network

main computation steps are discussed below:
Step 4.1. Ant Production Initiation Assume that all breakers are opened after the blackout. In
In this step, the colonies of ants are first randomly this case, the (fictitious) time to close a breaker is 15 minutes,
generated. A random number generator can be programmed the time to energize a line is 10 minutes, and the time to pick
to generate the number of ants. These ants are positioned on

up load is 10 minutes. The priority of each service zone is
different states while the initial pheromone value τ ij (0) is determined in advance shown in Table .
also given at this step. PRIORITY LEVELS OF CUSTOMERS
Step 4.2. Fitness Evaluation
In this step, the fitness of all ants are assessed based on Priority Level Load Node
the corresponding objective function, which can be expressed
as below: 1 5 8 13

n 2 4 7 16
F (µ ) = rc ( sµ i , sµ i+1 )
(1) 3 9 12 15
i =1 4 6 10 11 14
where rc ( s i , s j ) is the restorative operation cost between The restoration process starts at time 0. Suppose busbars

Bs1, Bs2 and Bs3 are energized at time 0, 25, 40 min.
state i and state j , and µ i for i= 1,….n defines a permutation. respectively. Table shows the sequence of actions to
With the evaluated fitness of the corresponding ants, the restore the Level 1 loads by network reconfiguration. The
pheromone can be added to the particular direction in which partial PN model for restoring node 5 and node 8 is shown in
the ants have selected. Fig. 3. where a token of a place node is indicated by a dot “ ”
Step 4.3. Ant Dispatch simply.

In this step, the ants are dispatched based on the level of
pheromone τ ij (t ) and distance φ ij values. In the TABLE
reconfiguration sequence study, τ ij (t ) can be seen as the
total loads that would restored at the time t, and φ ij can be
Index Time (min.) Actions
1 0 Bs1 is energized.
seen as the restorative operation cost between state i and state
j. Therefore, in this step, the ant dispatch process help convey 2 15 Close Bk1 to energize line1.
ants by selecting directions based on these two parameters. 3 25 Line2, line7 and Bs2 are energized.
After n iterations, all ants have completed a tour. The shortest
The loads with priority level 1 at node 5 are
path found by the ants is allowed to update its pheromone. 4 35
picked up, line8 is energized.
Step 4.4. Stop criteria
5 40 Close Bk2 to energize line5, the loads with
The computation process continues until the total loads
priority level 1 at node 8 are picked up.
would be restored reach the value Lmax. All the tour visited 6 50 Line11 is energized.
by ants in each iteration should be evaluated. If a better path 7 60 Line12 is energized.
found in the process, it will be saved for later reference. The
The loads with priority level 1 at node 13 are
best path selected among all iterations implies the 8 70 picked up
reconfiguration sequence to the problem.


P2 and constrains,” IEEE Trans. on Power Systems, vol. 13, No.3, pp. 789-
P1 P3 795, Aug. 1998.
[9] M.Dorigo, V.Maniezzo and A.Colorni, “Ant System: Optimization by a
Colony of Cooperating Agents,” IEEE Trans. on Systems, Man, and
Cybernetics, Vol.26, pp:29-41, Jan. 1996
P9 P5 [10] T. P. Wagner, A. Y. Chikhani, R. Hackam, “Feeder reconfiguration for
P4 loss reduction: an application of distribution automation,” IEEE Trans.
on Power Delivery, vol. 6, No.4, pp. 1922-1933, Oct. 1991.

P10 P6 Shu HongChun was born in 1961. He received the Ph.D. degree in Harbin
Institute of Technology, China in 1997 and is post doctor of Xi’an Jiaotong
T3 Univercity. Presently he is working as a professor of power system in
Kunming University of Science and Technology, Yunnan, China. His
present research interests include novel relay of power system, stability
P8 control and power system restoration.
Sun XiangFei was born in 1977. She is a Ph.D. candidate in the
P1: Bs1 is energized P2: Bk1 is open Department of Electrical Power Engineering, at Harbin Institute of
P3: Line1 is not energized T1: Connect line1 to Bs1 Technology, China. Her research interests include novel relay of power
P4: Pick up line1 and Line1 is energized system, power system restoration and artificial intelligence.
P5: Line7 is not energized T2: Connect line7 to node 4
P6: Pick up line7 and Line7 is energized
P7: Line8 is not energized T3: Connect line8 to node 7
P8: Pick up line8 and Line8 is energized
P9: Line2 is not energized T4: Connect line2 to node 4
P10: Pick up line2 and Line2 is energized

Fig. 3 Partial PN model of the 16 nodes system

This study results in a novel approach for distribution
network reconfiguration during the initial stage of restoration.
ACO algorithm is used to search the proper reconfiguration
sequence based on the PN model. The priority of customers is
considered emphatically. Moreover, the restoration is
accomplished as soon as possible by minimizing the number
of switching operations.
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