By Willis, H. Lee; Schrieber, Randall R
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Extra resources for Aging power delivery infrastructures
In four of the six cases listed, reliability improvement was between 20% and 40% less expensive to buy at the primary level than at other levels of the system. In these cases, spending on the distribution system could deliver reliability improvement for less cost than spending on other levels of the system. In two other cases, this was not the case, and the value shown is negative, which means that their optimum business case was to spend more money for more results, to the extent marginal cost dropped.
When a failure does occur, if service to consumers is to be maintained, a lot of load has to be re-distributed to other, still-functioning equipment nearby. But those remaining nearby units are already at high loading levels, meaning they have little available capacity to pick up additional load. The result is that interruptions, when they do occur, are difficult to restore, involving more load transfers, more emergency measures, and taking more time. While this does not increase the number of consumer interruptions to any large degree, it tends to increase the average duration of interruptions that do occur.
Secondly, the primary distribution level has more impact on customer power quality than any other layer. In the vast majority of power systems, it is both immediately downstream of the lowest voltage regulation equipment (substation voltage regulators or load-tap changers) in the system, and by the nature of its Aging Power Delivery Infrastructures 27 topography, the source of the majority of voltage drop from that regulation point to the customer. That topography also guarantees that the primary distribution system sees the majority of outages that lead to customer service interruptions.