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UPRATING AND

EXPANDING EXISTING
SUBSTATIONS
By

Egbodor Peter Uwhubetine

1.1

APPLICABILITY

All substation design and construction including uprating


and expanding has to be based on sound practices to
ensure safe and reliable operation. While it may not always
be practical in uprating to attain every desired
recommended clearance and spacing, the minimum
applicable standards where established have to be met or
exceeded.
Modern practice requires that certain environmental and
safety issues be addressed in any substation uprating or
expansion project, even though the existing substation may
not have been designed with such issues in mind. A suitable
oil spill prevention plan, possibly including oil containment
facilities, has to be implemented. Fire protection methods
(including physical separation, barrier walls, and sprinkler
systems) should be weighed against the safety concerns
and the costs of fire insurance to arrive at an appropriate
design. Several other environmental issues should be
considered, as applicable: noise abatement, aesthetics,
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1.2

FEASIBILITY

Cost is usually a primary factor when determining a course


of action: construction of a new facility versus uprating
and/or expanding an existing facility. Prepare construction
cost estimates for the schemes under consideration.
Generally choose the plan with the most favorable
cost/benefit ratio, provided that such action is consistent
with the near- and long-range system plan.
With facility expansion or new construction, include in cost
estimates potential impacts due to underground
obstructions and environmental concerns.
Consider substation uprating as an alternative where
increased capacity is required and routine expansion is
hindered due to lack of land area. During the initial planning
of an uprating program, it may become apparent, after
discussions with manufacturers, that such a program is not
cost-effective. In this case, expansion or new construction is
usually the most desirable course of action.
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1.3 SUBSTATION
UPRATING
In uprating substation equipment, the cooperation of the
equipment manufacturer is usually required.
Although an agent or distributor for the equipment vendor
may initially be contacted, obtain final determinations from
the manufacturers headquarters engineering staff as to
technical feasibility of the uprating, the cost of such work,
and where the work can be donefield or manufacturing
plant. It may be necessary for the work to be performed at
the manufacturers facilities or by its field service personnel
to obtain proper warranty of the uprated equipment.
When equipment uprating is being considered, only the
capacity is increased. The voltage level remains the same.
Normally the location of incoming or outgoing circuits
remains the same although they may be reconductored for
increased capacity.

1.3.1 Major Equipment


Uprating
1. Power Transformer: In the initial phase of a planned
substation uprating, furnish the power transformer
manufacturer with complete nameplate data. Additionally,
supply original purchase information, such as purchase
order number and date. This information will make it
possible for the manufacturer to retrieve the original design
calculations to determine the possible additional capacity.
If the original design was conservative, some additional
capacity may be possible. A loading history may be
necessary to confirm this. If the unit is oil insulated, selfcooled, the addition of radiators and fans should provide
added capacity. If the unit is fan-cooled, additional or larger
fans or radiators may add to available capacity. Insulating
oil pumping, or additional pumping, may be necessary to
further increase the rating. In some cases, internal leads
may require inspection, testing, and even replacement.
There are variations between manufacturers but, in general,
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a 15 to 20 percent increase in MVA capacity may be

Major Equipment Uprating contd.


2. Oil Circuit Breaker: Increasing the MVA capacity of a
substation may necessitate increased circuit breaker
ratings. Breakers may be inadequately rated for increased
continuous and momentary currents and interrupting duty.
Consequently, determine the fault and continuous current
requirements of all associated breakers.
The existing oil circuit breakers may be adequate for the
increased full load current but inadequate for the
interrupting duty to be imposed.
Give the manufacturer of the breakers complete nameplate
and purchase data together with the ultimate full load
current and asymmetrical fault current expected from the
uprating program.
From this data the feasibility of the program can be
determined as far as the breakers are concerned.
New contacts and bushings may possibly overcome any full
load current deficiency. Replacement of interrupter units
could safely handle the increased interrupting duty.
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Major Equipment Uprating contd.

3. Current Transformer (CT): Current transformers


should be evaluated for thermal rating under the uprate
program by the equipment manufacturer when the
apparatus is being assessed. If
determined inadequate, replacement will be necessary.
Next determine the ratio suitability. For example, a 3000/5
multi-ratio CT, being operated on the 1200/5 tap, can be
reconnected for 2000/5 service.
Application of multi-ratio CTs on lower rated taps results in
less accuracy and can lead to saturation of the CTs (with
associated error) under heavy fault conditions. Consider
these features in the CT evaluation when fault currents are
increased.

4. Wave Trap: Since a wave trap or line trap is a currentrated device, it is undesirable to operate such equipment
above the nameplate rating. In most cases of uprating,
wave traps will require
replacement.

Major Equipment Uprating contd.

5. Coupling Capacitor Voltage Transformer


(CCVT): A CCVT is a voltage-rated device as is the
associated line coupling tuner when the CCVT is equipped
with carrier current accessories.
Replacement will not be required for a capacity uprating
program unless the addition of new metering or relaying
exceeds the loading limits of the device.

6. Voltage Transformer (VT): A VT is in the same


category as a CCVT relative to uprating.

7. Bus System: Two factors enter the uprating


considerations regarding the substation bus system:
Current-carrying capacity of the conductors and
connections

Fault current capability of the conductor support systems


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Major Equipment Uprating contd.


An
increase in bus current is directly proportional to
the increase in substation MW capacity. However, the
increase in bus heating is proportional to the current
squared (I). This heat increase has to be considered.
Additional heat may, by conduction, affect connected
apparatus. Also, it becomes progressively more difficult to
maintain good bolted joints, free from deterioration, as the
temperature
increases. For these reasons, good practice generally
indicates rating the bus for a 30C rise over a 40C ambient
under full load conditions. Under emergency conditions
consider a 25 percent maximum bus current increase.
These loadings should, however, be limited to a couple of
days duration.
For heat rise computations, the necessary data and
mathematical relations are available from conductor
manufacturers and industry associations.(a) Once the
thermal considerations of the uprated bus have been
calculated, decide if the existing conductor should remain or
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be replaced. If strain bus, possibly only the drops need

Major Equipment Uprating contd.


The fault currents associated with a substation, in the case
of rigid bus mounted with apparatus insulators on
structures, cause stress in the insulators and structures.
With the added capacity and consequent increase of the
fault current, calculate these stresses be to determine if
insulators or structures are adequate.(a)
The insulator cantilever strength will most likely be the
weak element under the uprated condition.
Several courses are open to remedy this situation.
Insulators of increased cantilever strength can be installed
on the center phase only. However, it may be necessary to
change all insulators to higher strength, depending on the
calculated forces. Additional bus structures to reduce bus
span length may be an answer, although probably a costly
solution. An alternative solution may be the addition of
interphase, fiberglass insulators. Coordination with
manufacturers is necessary to find a device that will work
properly. Calculations are needed to verify that the
additional weight that would be added to the bus is
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acceptable to the existing design.

Major Equipment Uprating contd.

8. Disconnecting Switches: The increased current of


the uprated substation will require that the disconnecting
switches be examined for full load rating. This can be done
from the substation records
or the switch nameplates. Also check the momentary
current capability. If either the full load or momentary
currents are found inadequate, consult the original
equipment manufacturer. It may be possible to uprate the
switches by additions or replacement of the current-carrying
parts and insulators. If this is not possible or the switch
vendor no longer manufactures this product, replace the
units.

9. Surge Arresters: Since the voltage level or


substation BIL is not usually increased in the uprating
program, the surge (lightning) arresters need not be
changed. However, if the existing units are of old and
outdated design, it is advisable to replace, in particular,
those positioned for power transformer protection.
Generally, silicon carbide arresters should be replaced with11

Major Equipment Uprating contd.

10. Raceway System: Essentially, the only changes in


the raceway system would be provisions for additional
transformer fan and oil pump circuits. If the system is
underground and spare raceways or ducts have not been
provided, new direct burial plastic conduits can be installed
above or beside existing duct banks, thus using the present
routing.

11. Auxiliary Systems: In an uprating program the


essential addition to the auxiliary systems will probably
include new ac circuits for transformer fans and oil pumps.
Consider these circuits as critical or essential loads and
assign them a 100 percent demand factor. It is doubtful that
the auxiliary system transformers, panelboards, and service
conductors will need increasing in size. Normally these are
specified conservatively. In addition, the operating history of
the substation may indicate that the existing loads were
assigned a demand factor in excess of the true factor.
However, check the auxiliary system capacity nevertheless
for adequacy. An additional panelboard may be required to
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provide for additional circuits. Consider fault current ratings

Major Equipment Uprating contd.


The most important equipment check to make of the ac
system in an uprating program is the capacity of the
automatic transfer switch. This switch may have to be
replaced with a unit having a larger rating,
both full load and momentary. It is unlikely that the battery
and charger system will be affected by a substation
uprating, but also check these components to verify their
adequacy.

12. Relaying and Metering: Unless the relaying


scheme is being changed concurrently with the substation
uprating program, the changes to existing relays will usually
consist of revising the settings. Higher fault current ratings
may result in the need for complete re-coordination of
feeder and bus relaying. Some current transformers may
have to be reconnected or replaced for different ratios both
for relaying and metering. Since there is usually no voltage
change in an uprating program, potential transformers and
other voltage devices generally can remain the same.
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1.4 SUBSTATION EXPANSION

1. General
Substation expansion is the addition of transmission,
subtransmission, or distribution circuits to existing
substations. These additional circuits may be required on
the primary or secondary side. In some cases modifications
to the switching scheme may be necessary or desirable. At
the same time, capacity may be increased with the
installation of an additional transformer(s).
The figure below shows a substation expansion adding 69
kV line, a 69/12 kV transformer, and a 12 kV distribution
structure to an existing substation consisting of 69 kV line,
a 69/34.5 kV transformer, and a 34.5 kV distribution
structure.
A planned expansion is also the time to consider the
possibility of a different voltage level, for example, whether
the expansion of a 132 kV substation be designed for future
330 kV. Phase-to-phase rigid bus spacing is nominally 2.13
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meters (7 feet) and 3.35 meters (11 feet), respectively.

SUBSTATION EXPANSION contd.

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SUBSTATION EXPANSION contd.


Installing structures and buswork for a higher voltage
spacing and clearance with operation at the present voltage
may be warranted when the long-range system plan
indicates increasing the voltage at a later date. When the
expansion goes to the higher voltage, this portion could be
coupled to the existing voltage through a suitable
transformer or completely divorced from the lower voltage
installation, depending on system configuration.
If a higher voltage construction is decided for the expansion
and the higher voltage is contemplated within the near term
(less than 10 years), design and install foundations for the
higher voltage equipment. The advantages of the
monolithic pour over the modification of a smaller
foundation at a later date far
outweigh the higher cost.
Reasonable equipment dimensions and weights for the
higher voltage equipment are readily available from
equipment manufacturers. The trend is to smaller, not
larger, equipment so this risk is reasonable.
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SUBSTATION EXPANSION contd.


With the switches open, future bus extensions can be made
on the dead side of the switch without de-energizing the
existing bus.
When land availability is a concern, gas-insulated
substations (GIS) are a compact, though costly, solution to
restricted space requirements. Typically, such installations
become more economical in the 230 kV and higher
voltages, but contact equipment vendors to determine
applicability for a given installation.

2. Site Work
If the expansion land area was originally set aside for a
lower voltage, it has to be enlarged to accommodate the
future higher voltage.
Obtain additional soil data in the expansion area. It would
be an invalid assumption to take for granted that conditions
in the existing site carried on to the expansion area.
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SUBSTATION EXPANSION contd.

3. Grounding
Take ground resistivity measurements in the expansion
area. These can often be obtained along with the soil data.
A reasonable estimate of ground fault current can be
calculated for the proposed higher voltage. Design the
grounding system for this higher voltage using the required
standard methods.

4. Raceway System
If the existing substation employs an underground duct
system, this does not in itself mandate the expansion to this
method.
It should be noted that cable trench has certain advantages
over ducts. A large handhole can be designed to interface
the existing ducts to a trench and the advantages of trench
used throughout the
expansion area. If the expansion area is later separated
from the existing area, the handhole becomes an ideal point
of electrical separation.
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SUBSTATION EXPANSION contd.

3. Grounding
Take ground resistivity measurements in the expansion
area. These can often be obtained along with the soil data.
A reasonable estimate of ground fault current can be
calculated for the proposed higher voltage. Design the
grounding system for this higher voltage using the required
standard methods.

4. Raceway System
If the existing substation employs an underground duct
system, this does not in itself mandate the expansion to this
method.
It should be noted that cable trench has certain advantages
over ducts. A large handhole can be designed to interface
the existing ducts to a trench and the advantages of trench
used throughout the
expansion area. If the expansion area is later separated
from the existing area, the handhole becomes an ideal point
of electrical separation.
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SUBSTATION EXPANSION contd.

5. Control House
Unless substation expansion was planned in the original
design and the control house sized accordingly, it will
probably require enlarging. Design the enlargement with
the higher, future voltage in mind.
Expansion of the existing control house may or may not be
feasible because of physical obstructions or limitations in
the construction methods originally used. It may be
necessary to build a separate control house, interconnected
with the original house by the necessary cable and raceway.
Expansion of the existing control house is the preferred
method, since it allows for all controls within the same
building.
Layout of the house should take into consideration the
optimum arrangement of control panels to facilitate
operations.

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SUBSTATION EXPANSION contd.

6. Equipment
(A) Bus System: Make a conservative estimate of
expected fault currents at the higher voltage level and
establish the bus BIL along with ground clearances to
personnel, roads, and fencing. Following the methods
outlined in other chapters, design the bus and insulators at
this level taking into account contemplated full load bus
current.
(B) Transformers and Circuit Breakers: The selection
of transformers and circuit breakers together with their
associated isolating switches is detailed in other chapters of
this guide. Specify this equipment for the operating voltage.
Design foundations and switch structures for the higher,
future voltage. When the higher voltage becomes a reality,
cutover will be more orderly and less time consuming.
Specify disconnecting switches with the phase spacing of
the higher level.
(C) Carrier Equipment, Surge Arresters, and
Voltage Devices: Specify this equipment at the operating21

SUBSTATION EXPANSION contd.


(D) Auxiliary Systems: Check and possibly revise or
increase in capacity several equipment items in the
auxiliary systems to successfully expand an existing
substation:
i. Auxiliary transformer capacity
ii. Throw-over switch ratings, full load and momentary
iii. Low-voltage ac and dc panel circuit capacity and
adequacy of mains
iv. Low-voltage switchgear circuit capacity
v. Battery and charger capacity
Redesign or modification of the auxiliary system of the
expanded substation is accomplished by summing existing
loads with the expansion loads and proceeding. A review of
the operating history of the ac system may reveal that the
originally assigned demand factors were overly
conservative, and the existing capacity may be adequate
for the substation expansion.
The same could be true regarding the throw-over switch. In22

SUBSTATION EXPANSION contd.


Well-designed ac and dc systems should have provided
ample spare panel circuits and adequate mains.
This may not have been done because no expansion was
ever considered possible at the particular installation under
consideration. A new panel can be tied directly to the
existing panel by doubling the
main lugs of the existing unit. Locate the new panel close to
the existing and full-ampere capacity cable installed.
Low-voltage switchgear falls into the same category as the
panels. Additions can be made in the same way using
individual fused switches or circuit breakers.
The dc battery and charger, if not originally specified for
equipment additions and/or if found inadequate, should be
replaced for the substation expansion.

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SUBSTATION EXPANSION contd.


(5) Relaying, Metering and Control: If the same relaying
scheme as existing is applied to the substation expansion,
the only requirement is the addition of relay panels for the
expansion together with associated control panels. In this
situation, the metering scheme would undoubtedly remain
the same with equipment duplicating the existing
equipment.
The different loading conditions of the substation with the
expansion may require resetting of the relays of the existing
portion. Re-coordination of feeder and bus relaying, as well
as evaluation of CT ratios, may be required.
The reason for the expansion program may dictate more
complex, sophisticated protective relaying, both for the
existing and the expanded substation. A situation such as
this is practically identical to a completely new design and
should be treated accordingly.
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1.5 PLANNING FOR UPRATING OR EXPANSION


All programs involving substation construction require
planning. This is especially true of a program of uprating or
expansion.
The trend is toward assessment of existing substations and
individual equipment to develop a predictive maintenance
and substation life extension program. This approach
implements a planned program for
evaluating substation components and making
modifications or individual equipment replacements to
improve reliability and extend the overall substation life.
Such a program can be operated in conjunction with
uprating or expansion planning to optimize the replacement
and maintenance of substation equipment. For instance,
major substation uprating or
expansion planning might include the replacement of
existing electromechanical relays with microprocessor
relays for improved substation protection and monitoring.
Reliability analysis is being implemented in many
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PLANNING FOR UPRATING OR EXPANSION contd.

Maintenance planning should be a part of the early stages


of uprating or expansion projects. Such planning includes
visual inspections, periodic testing, maintaining of spare
parts inventories, logging of
equipment test results, and logging of misoperations and
maintenance records.
Consider safety issues during the planning stages of any
project. Provide and maintain proper tools, personnel
protective equipment, safety procedures, and safety
training.
A Critical Path Method (CPM) or similar method is
recommended for scheduling the actual uprating or
expansion activities. Include the detailed activities of
engineering, material specification, procurement,
manufacturing, and delivery times together with itemized
construction activities. The construction work may need to
be performed in phases to minimize outage time on
particular circuits. Plan required service outages to cause
the least revenue loss and customer inconvenience. Factor26

PLANNING FOR UPRATING OR EXPANSION contd.

Once the program or plan is developed, assign it to a


qualified person to monitor the actual activities, both office
and field.
The program will probably require revision as time passes,
but with a detailed plan, future problem areas can be
detected and appropriate action taken before they become
crisis areas.

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1.6 COMPARISONS-NEW VS. UPRATING OR


EXPANSION
Successful substation uprating will require a high degree of
technical cooperation between the utility company, the
engineer, and the manufacturers staff.
If uprating is just a stop-gap measure to favor a future
program, ask the equipment manufacturer to provide a
reasonable life estimate of the uprated equipment. This will
assist in the priority assignment of
the future program.
These comments apply largely to power transformers and, if
history of operation shows a minimum of operation above
rated temperature, this life estimate can be quite
reassuring.
New substation construction obviously causes the least
disturbance, electrically, to the customers and the system.
In the case of a small installation, expansion can consist of
duplicating the existing installation and making a hot
cutover or otherwise placing the new section in service with
minimum outage. An expansion to existing facilities is on a
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par with uprating as to disturbance, but with good planning

1.7 SUBSTATION UPGRADING


Substation upgrading by itself is difficult to justify because
of the extent and cost of the modifications normally
required. However, when coupled with concurrent
substation expansion, upgrading can often become the best
choice compared with construction of a completely new
facility.
Substation modifications or upgrading are warranted when
conditions affecting safety or security are evident.
Substations, particularly those of early vintage, may not
meet current minimum recommended
requirements for insulation, electrical clearances, or
structural integrity. In these instances, make a thorough
examination to determine the most efficient and economical
method to improve the situation.
Construction of a new installation with ample provisions for
future expansion may be the best choice, particularly if
extensive modifications are required.
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