Fast, green, smart & reliable: The making of a metro power grid


An award-winning ABB solution is helping a leading U.S. power company to secure grid reliability in one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas, integrate large but unpredictable volumes of wind power, react to grid disturbances in record-breaking times, and save almost one million megawatt-hours of energy and associated CO2 emissions a year.

The solution enables Texas-based electric utility Oncor to increase the capacity, secure the reliability and improve the energy efficiency of its power network in north Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.

Oncor is the largest power transmission and distribution company in Texas, serving some three million homes and businesses, including most of Dallas-Fort Worth, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States, with a combined population of 6.5 million.

The solution also has earned Oncor the state’s highest award for environmental excellence from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

According to the commission, which made the award in April 2010, the solution eliminates the need to generate an estimated 563 hours of peak-load electricity and saves almost one million megawatt-hours of energy and associated greenhouse gas emissions a year.

The world’s largest and fastest-acting concentration of SVCs at the Parkdale substation in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. The SVCs respond to grid disturbances in just 20 milliseconds.

The solution provides Oncor with the world’s largest and fastest-acting concentration of static var compensators (SVCs), which react in just 20 milliseconds whenever voltage fluctuations threaten to destabilize the grid.

SVC devices provide fast-acting reactive power compensation in high-voltage networks. They enhance stability by countering fluctuations in voltage and current, and by allowing more power to flow through the network.

Voltage fluctuations are usually caused by increased demand for electricity during peak periods. But in Dallas-Fort Worth, other long-term stress factors also are involved: consistent year-on-year growth in demand, the recent retirement of several local power plants, and the increasing amount of wind power and remote power generation in the Texas energy mix.

Integrating renewable energy
The SVCs enable Oncor to integrate this renewable energy and reduce its dependence on locally generated fossil-fueled power, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the environment in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The SVCs have been operating at the Parkdale substation in Dallas since June 2009. In the first 10 months of operation, they successfully responded to 38 power grid events that threatened grid stability.

The results of the installation have been so successful that Oncor has ordered two additional SVC’s from ABB, which are currently being installed at the utility’s Renner substation in Plano, a northern suburb of Dallas.

SVCs are part of ABB’s family of flexible AC transmission systems (FACTS) solutions that increase the capacity of existing transmission networks by as much as 50 percent while at the same time improving their reliability.

ABB delivered the Parkdale solution in the record and unrivaled time of just 14 months. ABB is a global leader in FACTS technologies and has more than 700 installations in operation or under construction around the world, around 50 percent of the market total.

For more information, visit the ABB Web site at

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