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Don't Get Caught Unprotected. Is Your Distribution System Ready For Solar?

OctoberOct 01 2020 02:00pm - 03:00pm America/New_York

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Due to the expansive growth of solar distributed generation, engineers must take proactive steps to adapt their legacy systems. The non-inductive load characteristic of solar inverters creates a new challenge which must translate into more robust system protection schemes. This paper will give real examples of distribution interconnected systems with lessons learned on best practices for protection system modeling and technological advancement.

Question: With the volume of distributed generation projects (specifically solar) coming online, have distribution utility engineers investigated the impact that these non-linear inverter sources will have on their existing system protection scheme? The basis and understanding, at a high level, of what engineers need to be mindful of, comes from the study which determines how they should be modeling these loads, and how they should be planning for upgrades to proactively prepare.


Attendees will learn that inductive loads contribute to fault current differently than smart inverters. Inverters will feed into a fault faster than convention loads but may not create the magnitude associated with inductive loads. Due to the speed on fault current contribution, system protection devices may not be fast enough to “catch” faults on their initial timing curves. Design parameters must be adhered to for proactive study of critical segments of the distribution system where solar is anticipated to grow.


Sean Middleton, P.E., Director - Strategy and Operations, Finley Engineering Company, Inc

Sean Middleton joined Finley in 2019 as Director, Strategy Operations. As an accomplished Professional Engineer, he brings more than 23 years of experience to Finley. Sean will use his areas of expertise in electrical engineering, distribution system operations management, and design and maintenance of electrical systems, and consult with Finley energy clients on many of today’s regulatory and compliance issues. With his background in the development of broadband networks, he can also assist in helping energy and telecom clients in meeting RUS requirements and standards, staying up to date on legislative funding, provide project management support and techniques, wireless, FTTP and consult on smart grid initiatives.

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