Newly Discovered Malware Could Threaten Electrical Grid

Malicious malware is capable of performing an attack on power supply infrastructure.

Researchers at ESET, a developer of IT security software and services for businesses and consumers worldwide, have been analyzing samples of dangerous malware (detected by ESET as Win32/Industroyer and named “Industroyer”) capable of performing an attack on power supply infrastructure. The malware was likely involved in the December 2016 cyberattack on Ukraine’s power grid that deprived part of its capital, Kiev, of power for more than an hour.

ESET researchers discovered that Industroyer is capable of directly controlling electricity substation switches and circuit breakers. It uses industrial communication protocols used worldwide in power supply infrastructure, transportation control systems, and other critical infrastructure. The potential impact may range from simply turning off power distribution, triggering a cascade of failures, to more serious damage to equipment.

Additional technical details on the malware and analysis can be found in an article and in a comprehensive white paper > Click Link to Download.


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See the origial article at: http://beta.ecmweb.com/ops-maintenance/newly-discovered-malware-could-threaten-electrical-grid

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Schneider Electric and Neoen sign 750 MW solar framework agreement

Having collaborated on the 300 MW Cestas project, the two French firms team up again to deliver 1,500 v central inverter, transformer, monitoring and medium voltage switchgear solutions to solar projects across three continents.


Schneider Electric's Conext SmartGen container solution houses a 1,500V central inverter that is cloud-connected.

Image: Schneider Electric

French independent power producer (IPP) Neoen has signed a framework agreement with Schneider Electric – a France-headquartered producer of solar inverter solutions – to supply PV, monitoring and switchgear solutions to 750 MW of solar projects across three continents.

The agreement will see Schneider Electric supply its Conext SmartGen conversion stations to a range of solar projects being developed by Neoen. Th conversion stations developed by Schneider Electric comprise a 1,500V central inverter, medium voltage switchgear, transformers and a complete monitoring and control system.

Also included is Schneider Electric’s lifecycle maintenance services, which enables plant owners to predict where and when faults may occur with components well in advance, and thus increases site uptime and energy harvest.

Both companies have previously collaborated on the 300 MW Cestas solar plant in France – Europe’s largest solar installation.

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See the origial article at: https://www.pv-magazine.com/2017/05/23/schneider-electric-and-neoen-sign-750-mw-solar-framework-agreement/

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Reduce Misoperations Through Improved Quality Control (QC) in Protection System Design

Misoperations Degrade Reliable Performance of the Power System

Nearly all major system failures, excluding those caused by severe weather, include misoperations as a contributing factor. Misoperations often make system disturbances even more severe than if the protection system had operated correctly.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) is the regulatory authority whose mission is to assure the reliability of the bulk power system. Under NERC’s mandatory standards, utilities are obligated to review all protection system operations to identify those that are misoperations. The utility obligations include:

  • Analyzing misoperations of protection systems to identify the cause(s).
  • Developing and implementing corrective action plans to address the causes of misoperations.

Misoperations Still Continue to Contribute to Poor Reliability

NERC has been reporting on misoperation performance for several years. The most recent NERC 2016 State of Reliability Report states that while the performance of protection system operations improved over prior years, misoperations continue to be one of the largest contributors to transmission outage severity and should remain an area of focus.

  • The rate of misoperations, as a percentage of total operations, is just under 10% (i.e., roughly one in 10 protection system operations involves a misoperation).
  • In the past three years there has been some improvement in misoperations performance
  • The most common causes of misoperations have remained the same through the past three years with over 60% percent of misoperations caused by settings/logic/design errors, communication failures, and relay malfunctions.
  • A misoperation includes Failure to Trip, Slow Trip and Unnecessary Trip as defined in the NERC Glossary of Terms.


Peer Reviews will Help Reduce Protection System Design Errors

Since a significant source of misoperations is a result of relay settings errors, one approach to reducing these errors is to implement peer reviews of composite protection system design and the settings used in each composite protection system. Extensive guidance is available through NERC technical committee reports such as NERC Analysis of System Misoperations.

Example: Reducing Relay Settings Errors

To reduce the number of relay setting errors the following steps can be taken:

  • Independent peer reviews of composite protection system designs and settings.
  • Use of industry guidelines and standardized design and setting approaches.
  • Increased training in protection system design and setting development.
  • More detailed fault studies.
  • Standard templates for setting standard protection schemes using complex relays.
  • Proactive periodic review of existing settings prior to changes in system topography.

Peer reviews are a useful tool for both training and performance improvement. Periodic independent peer reviews can consist of verifying that the relay settings meet the specifications of the relay and control application.

When new relays are installed or major changes are made on existing relay schemes, a peer review should be performed by a person that has equal or greater experience than the person that prepared the settings to verify that the relay settings meet the specifications of the relay and control application.

Increased training will help reduce the numerous calculation and application misoperations discovered during analysis. More detailed fault studies and periodic review of existing settings are crucial to ensure that changes to the system do not result in misoperations. The IEEE Power System Relaying Subcommittee (PSRC) has published a working group report Processes, Issue, Trends and Quality Control of Relay Settings to provide additional technical guidance for quality control of protective relay settings.

NERC Cause Code

What Your Company Can Do?

Be proactive. Having detailed and well thought out P&C design standards and a Quality Control Plan is an important proactive step toward reducing the number of future misoperations.

Be a learning organization. When a misoperation occurs conduct an in-depth review of all protection system operations. Where misoperations are identified, create action plans to analyze and determine the cause. Having independent end-to-end review of the design of composite protection systems that have been identified as having misoperated will contribute to improved protection system performance.

Reviewing each operation and identifying misoperations is mandatory under NERC Standard PRC-004-4(i). This standard mandates reviews of misoperations and calls for development of corrective action plans when misoperations are detected. These corrective action plans may be limited to the composite protection system that has misoperated, or may be generic and result in system wide obligations for correction of similarly designed protection systems. The outcome depends on the findings as to the cause of the misoperation. Each misoperation is a learning opportunity that should be taken advantage of.

Taking these steps will contribute to the industry goal of improving reliability, reducing the severity of system disturbances and fulfil the mandatory obligations to examine, report and correct all protection systems that have experienced misoperations.

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See the origial article at: http://www.tdworld.com/white-papers/reduce-misoperations-through-improved-quality-control-qc-protection-system-design?partnerref=UM_TDW_TRCWPMay17_003&utm_rid=CPG04000000918978&utm_campaign=14173&utm_medium=email&elq2=d0386b7c05d042b2bc7453ee365012d2

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Nebraska Adopts 2017 NEC

State of Nebraska

2017 NEC codebook

On May 10, 2017 Governor Pete Ricketts signed Legislative Bill 455 directing the states electrical board to adopt the 2017 NEC with an effective date of August 1, 2017. Governor Ricketts along with the electrical board should be applauded for their continued dedication to electrical safety.

Additional information for Bill 455 Click Here>.

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See the origial article at: http://www.nema.org/Technical/Code-Alerts/Pages/17-May-Nebraska.aspx?NL=ECM-01&Issue=ECM-01_20170518_ECM-01_536&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_8

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Energized Work: What’s Required Beyond PPE?

Safety means more than just selecting the correct equipment. NFPA 70E, Art. 130 tells you when an electrically safe work condition must be established [130.1(1)] and then covers the electrical safety-related work practices for when that condition cannot be established [130.1(2)].

Although it’s not split into two parts, Art. 130 logically can be. The second part [130.7] provides the requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other protective equipment. The first part [130.1 through 130.6, plus 130.8, 9, and 10] provides the requirements for such things as work permits, approach boundaries, and precautions for personnel activities. This first part is what we’ll cover here.

Working hot

You don’t perform energized work simply because your boss wants you to, it’s quicker, or you “know what you’re doing.” You can perform energized work only if one (or more) of three conditions applies [130.2(A)]:

  1. The employer can demonstrate that de-energizing introduces additional hazards or increased risk.
  2. The employer can demonstrate it’s infeasible to perform the work in a de-energized state due to equipment design or operational limitations.
  3. The circuits operate at less than 50V. This is contingent upon the capacity of the source and any overcurrent protection between the source and the worker; there must be a determination that there will be no increased exposure to electrical burns or explosion due to electric arcs.

The Informational Notes below these conditions provide examples to help illustrate what’s meant.

Normal operation

Understanding the concept of “normal operation” is critical to correctly applying the requirements of Art. 130. Actually verifying normal operation may require some serious sleuthing. If you’re a contractor, don’t just ask about the maintenance of the equipment — insist on seeing the maintenance records.

All five of the following conditions must be met, or you must consider the equipment to be operating abnormally [130.2(A)(4)]. The equipment:

  • Is properly installed.
  • Is properly maintained.
  • Doors are closed and secured.
  • Covers are in place and secured.
  • Shows no evidence of impending failure.

The Informational Note following this list explains what’s meant by properly installed and properly maintained. In essence, both activities were performed per industry standards. The Informational Note also provides some explanation of what “evidence of impending failure” means.

Don’t assume the short paragraph that constitutes this Informational Note tells you everything you need to know. Use it as a starting point. Ask more questions, such as:

  • What equipment anomalies indicate failure?
  • What standards are used for maintenance, and do the maintenance procedures align with those?
  • Is the “qualified worker” standard strictly enforced, or do inadequately trained people perform maintenance work?

Energized electrical work permit

A qualified person doesn’t need an electrical work permit to do any of the following [130.2(B)(3)]:

  • Perform tests and/or measurements.
  • Conduct thermography.
  • Enter/exit area with energized equipment, if not performing electrical work in that area and not crossing the restricted approach boundary.
  • Conduct general housekeeping and/or miscellaneous non-electrical tasks (and not crossing the restricted approach boundary).

Most people view a work permit as something that gives them permission to do the work. Instead, think of a work permit in the opposite way. You aren’t filling out the permit to get permission; you are filling it to give permission.

With this perspective, you will look for dangers rather than see what you can get by with. Someone else may sign the official approval, but you are the one who will pay the real price if something happens. Put yourself in charge of ensuring the conditions of that permit are properly met.

An electrical work permit has, at a minimum, the eight elements enumerated in 130.2(B)(2)(1) through (8). Consider number 7, which is “Evidence of completion of a job briefing, including a discussion of any job-specific hazards.” If you weren’t in charge of the permit (traditional viewpoint), you might seek some quick “check the box” way of satisfying this requirement so you can get on with the job.

But since you are in charge of the permit, that’s not what you want. Is that briefing sufficient if it’s just a quick summary with a sign-off sheet? No, you want to understand the job and its hazards. You want to be able to not only outline the major steps, but also identify how to protect against every known hazard any of those steps might bring.

If you take ownership of each element of that permit, are you going to have a happy boss or an unhappy boss? Let’s see. You are taking personal responsibility to ensure something extremely bad doesn’t happen. What competent boss would not be thrilled with this?

If you view the permit as an obstacle, then your boss is tasked with trying to make sure you comply. That’s just more work for your boss, and it leaves you at a higher level of risk.

Approach boundaries

How close can you get to the energized equipment? The answer to this question is only as close as your shock protection boundary allows. There are two kinds of shock protection boundary: limited and restricted [130.4(B)]. In either case, the distances must be established using Table 130.4(D)(a) for AC voltages or Table 130.4(D)(b) for DC voltages.

The limited approach boundary applies to unqualified personnel. There is some confusion on what this means. It’s not just a matter of expertise; you are also unqualified if you don’t need to be there. Generally, if you don’t have specific assignments on the other side of that boundary then don’t cross that boundary.

Circumstances do arise where an unqualified person needs to cross that boundary. That person probably hasn’t had the job briefing and so would be unfamiliar with the hazards. This in itself creates a dangerous situation.

The solution in NFPA 70E is that a qualified person advises the unqualified person of the possible hazards and escorts that person at all times [130.4(C)(3)]. That unqualified person cannot, however, cross the restricted approach boundary regardless of “need.”

The privilege of crossing the restricted boundary is restricted to qualified people. But even they must work under restrictions after having crossed that boundary. They can’t approach (or take any conductive object) closer to exposed energized conductors (50V or more) than the distance(s) set forth by Table 130.4(D)(a) or (b), unless the following conditions are met:

  • The person is insulated from or guarded from the energized conductors.
  • The person is insulated from any other conductive object.
  • The energized conductors are insulated from any other conductive object that’s at a different potential.

Arc flash

Another boundary on the job is the arc flash boundary. An arc flash study must be conducted to determine where this boundary is [130.5(1).b]. As a result of this study, which is documented, workers will know what PPE and work practices are required for them to be able to cross that boundary.

Determining the arc flash boundary is complicated. Informative Annex D, which runs nine pages, explains how to do this.

Let it shine

Electrical testing firms and electrical service firms have long considered rental of lights and generator a normal part of switchgear work. In most facilities, the lights for the switchgear are supplied by that switchgear instead of by another source. The logic of this has escaped explanation.

Where lighting is present, it’s typically inadequate for working inside the cabinets. It’s just ambient lighting and not intended to facilitate work — no logical explanation for that, either.

If a poor lighting situation exists, it must be corrected (e.g., with portable lights) before work may be performed. In fact, employees cannot even enter spaces where electrical hazards exist unless there is sufficient illumination to perform the work safely [130.6(C)(1)].

Having a helper stand there with a D-cell flashlight doesn’t count as providing illumination. The area should be lit up with work lamps. And you’ll have to light around obstructions so there aren’t shadows creating optical illusions or other visual difficulties. Typically, this will mean running several cords across the floor. Cord management is a safety issue; therefore, tape those cords down, and use cord protectors so that people don’t trip.

Other precautions

You’ll find other precautions listed in 130.6, such as:

  • Be alert at all times when within the limited approach boundary. Note that you can’t be alert if you’re fatigued. It’s better to call it a day than to make this your last day.
  • Don’t reach blindly into cabinets or other places that might contain energized conductors or circuits.
  • Don’t wear conductive items such as jewelry.
  • Where there is evidence that electrical equipment could fail, shut it down unless the employer can demonstrate that de-energization poses a greater hazard.

While Art. 130 provides a good basis for working safely around electrical hazards, it is by no means a substitute for diligently analyzing every work situation. Never take anything for granted, and never accept “that’s good enough” as a substitute for properly implementing safety principles.

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See the origial article at: http://ecmweb.com/nec/energized-work-what-s-required-beyond-ppe

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When Does Poor Power Quality Cause Electronics Failures?

Even though a 2-cycle power outage can damage electronic equipment, sometimes a 3-cycle outage causes no problems.

To many of us, the utility power grid is a vast system of unknowns. Its performance can make unprotected electronic equipment useless. Why? Because grid voltage values, higher or lower than guaranteed nominal values, have an effect on electronic intelligence processing equipment. Incoming grid power “sees” the equipment's DC power supply, which bears the brunt of any AC grid voltage variation.

Damaged computer equipment could be caused by poor quality power supplies.

The impact of voltage sag

We can hardly assume our electronic hardware operates from a distribution network with zero internal impedance, receives a pure undistorted sine wave, and never sees line voltage variations of 55% from nominal. Yet that's exactly what many electronic system manufacturers think when designing their power supplies.

The combination of utility- and locally generated disturbances results in no such modest limits. Most utilities are permitted line voltage reductions (brownouts) to cope with seasonal demands. In addition, large motors accelerating high inertia loads, spot welding, and other loads act to further drop the voltage level delivered to our power supplies.

Computer shutdowns and sag-induced logic errors aren't the only problems. Damage to the DC power supply is a greater danger. Reduced input voltage can cause excessive power supply heat dissipation, resulting in short equipment life. What's behind this overheating? While trying to maintain constant DC output as the line voltage declines, the DC-to-DC converter circuit has to draw from the reservoir capacitor. With line voltage reduced, this capacitor experiences deep discharges between the twice-per-cycle charging periods.

Now, electrolytic capacitors aren't designed for deep discharge — and they're not designed for the resulting large terminal variations. So, the excessive capacitor charge and discharge currents cause internal heat dissipation, which produces dielectric stress. This condition results in reduced mean time between failures (MTBF). In addition, rectifiers and DC-to-DC converter switching transistors draw high-peak currents, which raise their junction temperatures. These temperature excursions take a toll on semiconductor longevity.

The impact of overvoltage, surges, RFI, and harmonics

Short-term voltage surges (10% beyond nominal) aren't usually harmful. However, higher input voltages can overwhelm the voltage regulating ability. The result is damaging voltage levels fed to the electronic circuits.

High input voltage can also puncture a power supply's rectifier and switching transistor junctions, causing MTBF reduction and eventual breakdown. High-voltage transients lasting microseconds can permanently wreck the power supply and its electronic equipment load.

Digital logic circuits that define zeros by voltages in the 0V to 0.5V range and ones by 4.5V to 5V levels are highly susceptible to inductive “kicks” directly impressed on their 5VDC power supply. The power supply's reservoir capacitors don't absorb transient energy, because their wiring inductance (negligible at 60 Hz) introduces isolating impedance at the MHz-equivalent frequencies of fast-rise transients. As a result, transient energy follows the line of least resistance, which is to the power supply's output terminal.

Line-borne noise (RFI and low-voltage transients created by high-current logic circuits) will not likely damage a power supply. However, relatively few power supply designs have careful component shielding and placement. Therefore, line noise can couple (by stray capacitance) to the DC output, where it can disrupt communications and computer circuits. Because this noise may be intermittent and beyond the frequency range of many measuring instruments, you may have trouble diagnosing the source of the malfunction.

Harmonic voltages of the 60-Hz line frequency impressed on the AC power line are also unlikely to damage a power supply. However, higher harmonics of the 60-Hz power supply can fool control circuits. The more numerous zero crossings of higher harmonic frequencies can falsely trigger timing operations the sine wave's zero crossings initiate.

Sidebar: The DC Power Supply: How and Why It Works


Shown is a typical switch-mode power supply wiring schematic. Here, the DC-to-DC converter normally switches at 100 kHz to 1 MHz. The PWM circuit regulates the DC output voltage by adjusting the ON/OFF durations of switching transistor Q.

A typical DC power supply (also called a switch-mode power supply or SMPS) is a sophisticated assembly of electronic components. Its basic function is to deliver stabilized low-voltage DC to the digital logic circuit it feeds. Based on a fast-switching DC-to-DC converter, the device converts rectified 60 Hz into the low-voltage DC (typically 5VDC) required by computer logic.

The power supply's pulse-width modulating (PWM) circuit compares the supplied 5VDC output to an accurate 5V reference so that an error-correcting feedback signal develops. This signal adjusts the relative ON and OFF durations of the DC-to-DC converter, holding the output at the required 5V.

An SMPS can bridge a total power outage for periods of up to three complete cycles. However, there's a key requirement for this maximum immunity to happen: The filter capacitor (denoted as “C1” in the Figure) must be fully charged to its design voltage. Basically, this capacitor acts like a short-term battery. During a power outage, this capacitor provides current to the power supply's DC-to-DC converter to keep it running.

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See the origial article at: http://ecmweb.com/sagsswellsinterruptions/when-does-poor-power-quality-cause-electronics-failures

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Are Your Motors Getting Hit by Transients?

A power monitor can provide the data to determine when a transient event occurred and how long it lasted.

By definition, transient voltage events don’t last long. But a single event, if of sufficient magnitude, can destroy a motor. So can events of smaller magnitude that go unnoticed as they cause winding insulation to deteriorate.

We call a voltage event a transient when it lasts only momentarily. The voltage event may be a spike or a dip. A spike can do things like cause overheating or simply punch a hole in the insulation of conductors or motor windings. A voltage dip also can cause overheating, because the motor is going to demand more current when that dip occurs.

Suppose someone asks you if a given motor has been experiencing transient voltage events. How would you know? If lightning struck the building yesterday, you could probably say “yes” with reasonable confidence. But without instrumentation, you really have no way of knowing if that motor got hit by transients or not.


These random transient voltages (i.e., waveform notching) were recorded at a 480V service entrance with a power monitor.

You can’t hook up a digital multimeter (DMM) and have it look backward in time to measure an event that already happened. The only way to know if an event happened is to look at measurements that have been recorded. You want to do this with something more than the high-low recording feature on a DMM. For one thing, that DMM can’t tell you how many transient events it saw (if, indeed, it was fast enough to capture any).

You need something that is fast enough to capture each transient event, and you need something that will tell you when each occurred and how long it lasted. It would be nice to know not only the magnitude of each transient but also what its waveform looked like.

A power monitor fits the bill. It’s unlikely you can have it watch all of your motors, but you can have it watch your critical motor feeders.

If you have any large motors that start across the line but you haven’t been able to get management to spring for a soft starter, a report generated from the power monitor data will show what those motors are doing to the rest of your equipment via the power distribution system.

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See the origial article at: http://ecmweb.com/site-files/ecmweb.com/files/uploads/2017/03/13/TransientVoltageWaveform.jpg

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12 Reasons Why Electricians Should Always be Looking for Trouble

Do you have an adequate electrical preventive maintenance (EPM) program in place at your facility? If so, then you will be very familiar with NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance. Many of the chapters in NFPA 70B relate to different types of electrical equipment and call for a defined periodic “visual inspection” as part of the recommended maintenance.

If your EPM program does not include a recommended periodic visual inspection component, then you need to view these photo gallery slides, which include a sampling from the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company’s Thermographic Services group. Many of the photos show correctable conditions found by simple visual inspections. You will be surprised to see what can be going on inside your critical electrical equipment if you’re not paying close attention to it.

In an Internet of Things (IoT) world, sensors can be used creatively to monitor just about every negative condition that can happen to your equipment. As you flip through the slides, think about sensors that could detect and annunciate some of these deleterious conditions. If you can’t envision a sensor for some applications, then you will quickly realize the importance of the periodic visual inspection process defined in NFPA 70B.

If you’re not constantly looking for trouble, these photos represent a few ways trouble will find you first — and cost you a lot of money and business disruption in the process!

Electrical Trouble 2017 1

The Clock is Ticking to a Major Electrical Outage

This is a common occurrence with many types of electrical equipment — long-term exposure to excessive moisture or active leaks. The source of water could be roof leaks, chilled water lines condensing on the equipment, plumbing supply or drain line leaks. In this case, water has been leaking on the top of this busway and busway switch for a very long time. Once the corrosion penetrates the top enclosure steel, water will run directly onto the busway splices and cause phase-to-phase and phase-to-ground arcing. These failures usually result in arcing ground faults that destroy several 10-foot sections of the busway. Fires and fire-sprinkler water damage also commonly occur and can cause significant business interruptions.

Electrical Trouble 2017 2

Damage Is Occurring Where You Least Expect It

Visual inspections should include checking panelboard connections where the breakers spring-clamp onto the panelboard busbars. The integrity of these connections can be checked using periodic infrared thermography. These damaged busbars were discovered while working on other nearby failed electrical components. Unchecked failures of this type usually advance to a catastrophic panelboard loss due to phase-to-phase and phase-to-ground arcing faults that melt sections of all three of the busbars. Melting of the steel enclosure typically occurs before the overcurrent protection opens the circuit. Although the arcing initially starts at one phase, the initial ionized air and arc plasma quickly conducts to all of the other phases and ground.

Electrical Trouble 2017 3

Improper Field Modifications = No Motor Overload Protection

Visual inspections should always include checking that the motor overload protection is set properly based on the motor nameplate amps and the manufacturer’s setting instructions supplied with the overload relay. Originally, the two IEC motor starters and overload relays in this panel were identical. One of the motor controls was replaced with a different unit that does not have a settable range to protect the connected motor. Motor overload relays that have an adjustable range of amp settings can easily be set to a value that will provide no overload protection for the motor. NEMA type motor overload relays with one overload heater element per phase cannot be changed without physically replacing the three heater elements. These are less likely to be accidentally set to the wrong amp values.

Electrical Trouble 2017 4

An Obvious but Critical Mistake

Periodic visual inspections of busway include paying close attention to the bolted compression splice clamps. Many manufacturers of busway use a double-headed bolt whereby the outer head snaps off with a wrench at the initial installation. The outer bolt head is designed to snap off at the proper applied torque to avoid needing a torque wrench. The two red washers seen on the bolt heads in this photo indicate that the bolts have never been tightened. The red washers are designed to fall away after the heads are snapped off. This busway has been energized for many years with both splice bolts loose. A visual inspection found this mistake and initiated corrective actions before a potential major arcing event could occur.

Electrical Trouble 2017 5

Maintaining Environmental Barriers

Sometimes your own processes can invade the electrical enclosures. This can happen from improper NEMA type enclosure selection or from failing to properly secure the enclosure doors or knockout closures. The combustible dust collection in this fused switch can insulate the conductors and affect the conductor heat dissipation. High moisture in the dust can make the contaminants electrically conductive, causing short circuits, arcing, and equipment damage.

Electrical Trouble 2017 6

No Moving Parts but Still Requires Maintenance

In some cases, the outside environment tries to invade the electrical equipment. In this case, the electrical equipment is invading the surrounding building environment. Fluid leaking from these transformer bushings is getting out of the electrical equipment and contaminating the concrete floor. A quick visual inspection of this installation is all that it takes to establish a corrective action-plan. Without a formal electrical preventive maintenance program, what would compel someone to enter these often forgotten spaces? What damage could result from a low oil condition? What is the cost to repair these leaks now compared to a fire, catastrophic failure, and collateral damage in this space?

Electrical Trouble 2017 7

“It’s Always Been Like That”

Some improper electrical installations are very obvious. High-tech equipment or IoT sensors are not needed to pick up on this installation issue. Vertical busway installations are vulnerable to failures due to joint damage from leaks penetrating the enclosure and contaminating the closely spaced busbars. The NEC requires curbs around busways where they penetrate floors. Although spring mounts are used in this installation, it looks like hard cementitious material abuts the busway enclosure. Will the busway spring mount function properly when the busway is bonded to the floor? Will this stack of blocks move up and down with the spring mounts?

Electrical Trouble 2017 8

Not a Natural Habitat

This problem would be hard to find until it is too late without having an effective electrical preventive maintenance program in place. Periodic internal inspections would catch this condition before the conductors and the enclosures were damaged from rodents gnawing, corrosive excrement, or shorting of terminal from nesting materials. This enclosure invasion can be cleaned up, but it is equally important to seal off all penetration points to prevent a recurrence. One missing knockout closure may be all that is needed to allow rodents to access the internal electrical components.

Electrical Trouble 2017 9

“Define Qualified…”

Some electrical problems are from self-inflicted wounds. Who is allowed to do electrical work at your facility? Are they electrically “qualified” per the NFPA 70E definition?” Would a truly qualified electrician install a copper wire in place of a proper fuse? If unqualified personnel are performing electrical work in your facility, they are exposed to serious danger. In addition, their unsafe acts may cause injury to others who work nearby or are affected by their improper electrical installations. Regardless of how this installation occurred, routine and periodic inspections can discover problems and allow corrective actions to be taken before a fire, injury, or equipment damage occurs.

Electrical Trouble 2017 10

Monday Morning Production

Some electrical problems are not immediately recognizable during a visual-only inspection. This problem was discovered after using infrared thermography to view the connections while under load. When one of three conductors was observed to be “cold” on a 3-phase balanced load, the system was deenergized and looked at more closely. This new cooling tower, variable-frequency drive (VFD) came from the factory with one conductor terminated onto the conductor insulation that was never stripped.

Electrical Trouble 2017 11

You Can’t Judge A Switch by Its Cover

Sometimes electrical equipment looks perfectly fine from the outside. You might assume that if the outside is clean, then everything inside must be okay too. In reality, this is a perfect example of why periodic visual inspections are so critical to the reliability of electrical equipment. Spiders can get into enclosures through holes in enclosures that are small and normally do not present any unwanted access problems. When dirt and moisture collect on these spider webs that bridge phases and provide paths to ground, conditions are ideal for flashovers and arcing ground fault damage. Arcing ground faults and products of combustion can contaminate adjacent switchgear sections. Long lead times for new switchgear can create unrecoverable business losses.

Electrical Trouble 2017 12

An Electrical Industry Concern

The white conductor insulation on this 2-pole breaker shows signs of overheating. The insulation is black and burned at the breaker screw terminal. This damage can be seen during a close visual inspection. If thermographic inspections had been used as part of the periodic EPM, this failing breaker or termination would have been seen much sooner before the insulation became heat damaged. This panel is a Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Stab-Lok panel that should be scheduled for replacement due to potential electrical and fire safety issues. Read “Old Circuit Breaker Panels Pose Danger” for more information about FPE Stab-Lok panels.


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Understanding Power System Interharmonics

Electronics and communications devices in the smart grid can increase a rare, and not well-understood, distortion.

Using sophisticated power electronics and communications systems to improve power system efficiency, flexibility and reliability is increasing interharmonic distortion and putting new equipment sensitive to that distortion on the system. Understanding interharmonics is necessary to prevent them from adversely affecting system operation.

IEEE Standard 519-2014, Recommended Practice and Requirements for Harmonic Control in Electric Power Systems, defines interharmonics as any “frequency component of a periodic quantity that is not an integer multiple of the frequency at which the supply system is operating.” IEC 61000-2-1 includes a similar definition. Mathematically, with f the supply (fundamental) frequency and m any positive non-integer, any signal with the frequency mf is an interharmonic of f. This is similar to the harmonic definition, nf, where f once again represents the fundamental frequency, but n represents any integer greater than zero.

While interharmonic and harmonic definitions are similar, their difference — that harmonics are periodic at the fundamental frequency and interharmonics are not — is important. All periodic waveforms can be represented by their fundamental component and a Fourier series of harmonics with various magnitudes, frequencies and angles. Interharmonics are not periodic at the fundamental frequency, so any waveform containing interharmonics is non-periodic and any non-periodic waveform includes interharmonics. The level of interharmonic distortion can be thought of as a measure of a waveform’s non-periodicity.

Interharmonic Sources

Interharmonics are usually created by one of three phenomena. The first is rapid non-periodic changes in current or voltage caused by temporary or permanent operation of load or generation in a transient state. Depending on the process and controls used, these changes can be quite random or fairly consistent. The second is communication signals sent on power lines to control or monitor system components. The third and increasingly common source of interharmonics is static converter switching not synchronized to the power system frequency.

Conventional thyristor switched converters are triggered into conducting mode and keep conducting until their current falls below their holding current. By turning off at the same point each cycle, these devices are synchronized to the power system frequency and do not produce interharmonics. Other high-power semiconductor devices — primarily insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) that can be turned off as well as on — are replacing thyristors because their asynchronous switching, which produces interharmonics, enables reactive as well as real power regulation and power system oscillation damping. Two specific sources of interharmonics that deserve special attention are voltage source converters (VSCs) and power-line communications.

VSCs are increasingly being used for solar and wind generator power conversion, static synchronous compensators (STATCOMs) and high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) applications. The advantages of VSCs using IGBTs over converters using thyristors include the ability to regulate reactive power and operate under weak system conditions. The ability of IGBTs to turn off at any time also enables near-instantaneous control that can be used to improve system stability by damping oscillations.

One consequence of the increased control provided by VSCs is interharmonics. The level of interharmonics produced by a VSC device depends on its type, design and application. Early VSCs used pulse-width modulation (PWM) that produced much higher interharmonics than newer modular multilevel (MML) converters. The frequency and level of interharmonics produced by a specific VSC also depends on several design factors (for example, pulse number and levels) chosen for reasons unrelated to interharmonic generation. And, although designed to operate with a number of failed IGBTs, the failure of a single IGBT could significantly increase interharmonic distortion. System conditions such as strength and resonant frequencies also impact interharmonic levels.

Power-line communications are used to transmit system protection information to control certain loads or reactive resources, or for two-way communications with smart meters. All of these systems add non-periodic signals to the power system. Protection communications usually use frequencies in the hundreds-of-hertz range transmitted from one location to another and prevented from reaching the wider system by wave traps. Load or reactive resource control signals, sometimes called ripple control signals, are usually in the 100-Hz to 3000-Hz range and reach the wider system, but they are generally of short duration and used infrequently. Both protection and load-control signals usually communicate simple instructions (trip, block, turn on or turn off) using a minimal number of frequencies.

Smart meter communications over power lines are used for a variety of purposes with varying levels of data intensity. Generally, either the current, voltage or both are briefly shorted to send a step signal interpreted as a binary bit. Series of bits establish meter identity and communicate information. Multiple meters can send signals at the same time and can be quite reliable with multiple communications attempts and error checking.

Interharmonics can be generated at and transferred to any voltage level. Although a relatively limited number of interharmonic measurements are available, low levels of voltage interharmonics (<0.1%) have been measured at transmission levels with no known large interharmonic sources. Even with known interharmonic sources, voltage interharmonic levels rarely exceed 0.5%, except under resonance conditions.

ATC Fig1 final

IGBTs used for power conversion, such as these in the Mackinac voltage source converter HVDC valve hall, can be a significant source of interharmonic distortion.

Three Categories of Effects

Interharmonics, like harmonics, are an additional signal on the power system that can cause a number of effects, particularly if magnified by resonance. The wider the range of frequencies present, the greater the risk of resonance. Many of the effects of interharmonics are similar to those of harmonics, but some are unique because of the non-periodic nature of interharmonics.

Like harmonic effects, interharmonic effects can be separated into three categories: overloads, oscillations and distortion.

Overload effects include additional energy losses that can contribute to heating, overloading filters or other system components, and current transformer saturation. Depending on frequency, interharmonics can cause oscillations in mechanical systems, acoustic disturbances or interfere with telecommunications signals. Distortion of the fundamental frequency can interfere with the operation of equipment synchronized with system zero crossings or dependent on a consistent crest voltage, such as fluorescent lights, timing devices and some electronic equipment. In general, interharmonic levels have been lower than harmonic levels, making issues with the effects of interharmonics that are similar to the effects of harmonics unusual.

Two of the most common and impactful effects of interharmonics — but not with harmonic distortion — are light flicker and power-line communications interference.

Light flicker is caused by variations in root-mean-square (rms) voltage magnitude. The perceptibility of flicker varies with frequency and magnitude. The effect of interharmonics on rms voltage variation is frequency dependent such that interharmoncis above 120 Hz have a minimal impact on flicker.

Power-line communications are not only a source of interharmonics but also can be affected by interharmonics. Protection and ripple control signals often consist of a single interharmonic frequency and are usually not affected by interharmonics of other frequencies. Two-way smart meter communications use step changes in voltage or current to send bits of information that consist of multiple interharmonic frequencies. If interharmonics from other sources are in the same magnitude and frequency range, they can interfere with communications. For instance, interharmonics produced by a VSC HVDC installation can cause communication problems with a local automatic meter reading system. Increasing power-line communication signal strength to overcome interharmonic distortion may not be possible because it could cause flicker.

ATC fig2 final

The voltages produced by a voltage source converter will be dramatically different depending on if a pulse-width modulation (A) or modular multilevel (B) design is used.

ATC fig3 final

The effect of a 0.2% interharmonic distortion on rms voltage varies with frequency and has little impact above the second harmonic (50-Hz system example shown).

Simplify the Measurement

To simplify interharmonic measurement and produce repeatable results, IEC 61000-4-7 defines a measurement methodology based on the concept of grouping. For a 60-Hz system, its basis is Fourier analysis with a 12-fundamental-cycle basis that uses a phase locked loop synchronized with the fundamental frequency. This produces harmonics at frequencies that are multiples of the fundamental and interharmonics every 5 Hz between the harmonic frequencies.

These harmonic and interharmonic components then can be grouped into harmonic groups, interharmonic groups, harmonic subgroups and interharmonic subgroups. The magnitude of each group or subgroup is calculated by taking the square root of the sum of the squares of the components of each group or subgroup. A total interharmonic distortion can be calculated by taking the square root of the sum of the squares of all interharmonic groups of significant value.

ATC fig5 final

To simplify interharmonic measurement and analysis, signals are measured every 5 Hz and combined into groups and subgroups.

Standards, Guidelines and Limits

Interharmonics effects include the following:

  • Those related to flicker
  • Those similar to harmonics
  • Those affecting power-line communications.

Because these phenomena are different, the limits required to prevent issues related to each of them also are different.

IEEE Standard 519-2014 contains informative interharmonic limits designed to prevent flicker. IEC 61000-2-2: 2002 contains similar standard compatibility levels. Both standards limit the interharmonics of concern for flicker to frequencies below the second harmonic. The IEEE limits are as high as 5% below 16 Hz, above 104 Hz and very close to 60 Hz for voltages less than or equal to 1 kV. The limit is as low as 0.23% at 51 Hz and 69 Hz for all voltages.

Beyond the interharmonic limits based on flicker, IEEE 519 states “the effects of interharmonics on other equipment and systems” should be given “due consideration” and “appropriate interharmonic current limits should be developed on a case-by-case basis.” IEC 6100-2-2 states there is not enough knowledge of interharmonics for there to be agreement on compatibility limits beyond those for flicker, but for addressing interharmonic issues that are similar to harmonic issues, the standard suggests interharmonic and harmonic limits should be similar.

The IEC standard states ripple control receivers can be expected to respond correctly to voltages as low as 0.3% of the supply voltage and suggests limiting interharmonics near the ripple control frequency to 0.2% of the supply voltage. The IEC suggests limiting any frequency, harmonic or interharmonic, from the 50th harmonic to 9 kHz, to 0.2% and any 200-Hz band in this range to 0.3%.

None of these limits are enforceable, and there is no consensus on their appropriateness. Unfortunately, without accepted limits, equipment and system design is difficult. One thing becoming clear is the limits necessary to enable power-line communications could be about an order of magnitude lower than the limits necessary to prevent flicker or harmonic-related issues.

ATC fig4 final

Measurements show that under certain conditions, interharmonic distortion during HVDC operation can exceed the interharmonic distortion that is produced by automatic meter reading (AMR) communications.

Interharmonic Mitigation

The effects of interharmonic distortion can be mitigated by reducing emission levels, reducing load sensitivity or reducing the coupling between distortion generating equipment and sensitive loads.

The wide-band nature and variability of the interharmonic distortion emitted from certain types of loads can make all three mitigation methods difficult.

Reducing interharmonic emission levels is difficult without also reducing interharmonic-producing equipment benefits, although new MML VSC designs seem to produce lower levels of interharmonics than previous VSC designs. Reducing the sensitivity of loads to interharmonics is possible in some cases. If current overloads or voltage peaks are an issue, higher-rated equipment can be used. Timing issues created by distorted voltage waveforms or zero crossing may be addressed by using equipment not synchronized to the power system.

Power-line communications issues are more difficult to address. Signal strength usually cannot be significantly increased without the risk of creating flicker. While single-frequency signals can be modified to avoid certain sensitive frequencies, wide-spectrum signals cannot. Often, the most practical solution is to remove wide-spectrum communications from power lines.

Filters can reduce coupling between interharmonic-producing devices and sensitive loads, but they may not be practical unless there is a single or minimal number of interharmonic frequencies of concern. When multiple interharmonics are an issue, filtering may not be practical because filters, especially lower-loss undamped filters, can amplify non-targeted frequencies. Designing filters to avoid amplifying critical frequencies may not be possible when a wide range of interharmonics are present.

Another concern is filter megavolt-ampere-reactive (MVAR) size. Power-line communications require a low level of interharmonics to function as designed, which means larger (on a MVAR basis) filtering is necessary. These large filters may create unacceptable voltage regulation and cost issues.

Coming to Conclusions

The level of interharmonic distortion is generally low because, presently, there are few large interharmonic sources. This has kept interharmonic-related problems and the need to measure or mitigate interharmonics rare. As the benefits and use of interharmonic-generating equipment increases, this may change. Other than for flicker, there are few guidelines and no mandatory standards for limiting interharmonics. Without additional guidelines, the potential for interharmonic-producing equipment and equipment sensitive to interharmonics being incompatible with each other is increasing. ♦

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the origial article at: http://www.tdworld.com/smart-grid/understanding-power-system-interharmonics?NL=ECM-06&Issue=ECM-06_20170411_ECM-06_978&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_7_b&utm_rid=CPG04000000918978&utm_campaign=13390&utm_medium=email&elq2=def83b5593254627b6d283ce4173d748

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P3 – Power Protection Products, Inc. 2016 “Power Quality Rep of the Year” for Eaton Corporation

Raleigh NC 4/07/17 — The Eaton Corporation has named P3 Sales Representative of the Year. P3 Power Quality Specialist, Andy Angrick, received the award on behalf of P3 at this year’s National Rep meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina. P3 was also awarded the Power Factor Rep of the Year Award at the same conference.

P3 Eaton award Eaton awards web

The Eaton “Power Quality Rep of the Year” Award is based on specific sales results and input from various departments within Eaton. The chosen rep firm displays qualities including strong inside and outside sales, adaptability to ever-changing markets, consistency in performance, and strong decisive leadership. The winner portrays the fundamental elements of a “best in class” firm.
“P3 is an example of a company who has reinvented itself in the past four years to modernize its approach and heed the call to become more strategic in the vertical markets that are target areas of growth for us,” said Rick Orman, Eaton Sales Manager. “They empower their associates to embrace change and make decisions to improve on a local level. P3 is very well run, has a very progressive approach to training and education, and is well-staffed for both inside and outside sales. They know their territory and the unique and special markets it contains and adjust to those markets to glean the best results.”
“Being named Eaton Rep of the Year is an incredible honor, especially coming from a company that represents quality, innovation, service, and an overall commitment to excellence. These are attributes that our team at P3 strives for each and every day,” said Brian Branigan, President. “Simply put, when our customers think power quality, they think P3, and for this association we are very proud and very grateful.”
P3 has been a Sales Representative for Eaton since 1996. Their offices are located in Omaha, Des Moines, and Kansas City. P3's territory includes Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Southern Illinois.

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Night Storms Cause Power Outages Across Iowa

WATERLOO, Iowa  --  More than 12,000 people spent the night without power after winds ripped the roof off of a Waterloo building on March 7th.

Debris from the roof landed on an electrical substation, knocking out power in the area. Mid-American crews responded to the scene to restore power to those affected.

Thousands across the state began cleanup without electricity. Alliant Energy responded to outages in southern parts of Iowa, and Mid-American Energy showed over 3,000 residents without power in the Quad Cities area.

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the origial article and watch the video at: http://whotv.com/2017/03/07/monday-night-storms-cause-power-outages-across-iowa/

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Galaxy VX Goes Up and Global, by Schneider Electric

New rating : 1000 kW Expandable, 1250 kW, 1500 kW, N+1 - 400V [IEC] / 480V [UL]

Galaxy VX
The Galaxy VX UPS is a highly efficient, scalable, flexible extension of the Schneider Electric Galaxy V-Series solutions for data center and industrial applications. Galaxy VX uses innovative features, including patented 4-level inverters and ECOnversion mode, to lower energy costs and meet changing business requirements. Galaxy VX provides N+1 redundancy at full capacity and delivers excellent power quality in demanding electrical environments, with a wide input voltage window, robust overload capacity, and power factor corrected input that eliminates oversizing of upstream gear. The Galaxy VX also links to facility monitoring systems such as the Schneider Electric StruxureWare for Data Center solution. Galaxy VX features a touch-screen display, top and bottom cable entry, full front service access, no rear clearance requirement, Smart Power Test (SPoT), and start-up service for efficient deployment. With support for traditional battery solutions as well as Lithium Ion and flywheel energy storage solutions, Galaxy VX provides the performance and flexibility required by today’s large data centers and mission critical applications.

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

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Treat Your Electrical Equipment Like Your Automobile Tires

Do you postpone changing your car tires until they blow out, or do you change them well before the tread is gone — before the “wear out” period? Most of us are smart enough to replace them before a catastrophic failure occurs. But do you do the same thing with your electrical system components? Is your electric room aging and possibly nearing the end of its life expectancy? You want to get the most out of your equipment, but aging infrastructure is an imminent issue for many. The hard truth is that 80% of transformers fail when they are between 40 and 50 years old. By year 10, 50% of circuit breakers no longer function per specification. This statistic jumps to 90% by year 20.

The general rule of thumb for electrical systems is a life expectancy of 20 to 30 years. After that, you’re in the “wear out period.” When planning long-term plant expenditures or electrical system retrofits, a good place to start is determining the age of your electrical system. Once you know this, you can begin to anticipate when your equipment is no longer operating per specification or is likely to fail completely.

Bathtub Curve

Fig. 1. The “bathtub” curve shows the three key periods of a component’s life cycle.

Let’s take a closer look at when electrical equipment is likely to wear out. As you can see in the classic “bathtub” curve in Fig. 1, there is a much higher failure rate for equipment at both the beginning and the end of its life cycle. At the beginning of a component’s life, there is a higher “infant mortality” rate. Failures are typically due to a manufacturing issue, a missing or incorrectly installed part, or a defective piece of equipment. As time progresses, failure rates decrease, and the equipment moves into its “useful life period.” During this phase, there is a low “constant” failure rate. While you may have to replace parts or perform maintenance work, this is when fewer equipment failures are encountered. Over time, with wear on the equipment, the failure rate begins to steadily rise. When equipment becomes less dependable, you’re entering the “wear out period” for the component.

equipment life

The “Expected Useful Life Period of Equipment” table provides the approximate useful life for well-maintained electrical equipment.

Determining the age of your equipment and system allows you to begin anticipating or planning for improvements or replacements rather than being caught off guard by an end-of-life failure during the wear out period. The Table shows us the expected life of various types of well-maintained electrical equipment.

Failure Rate of D Transformer

Fig. 2. This diagram illustrates the transformer failure rate over time.

Let’s consider a quick example. The Table indicates that a transformer’s useful life is 25 to 30 years. After that time period, the end-of-life period begins — with 80% of transformers failing between the 40th and 50th year of life, as shown in Fig. 2.

It’s important to note that the Table describes rather ideal situations. In reality, there are a number of factors that cause life expectancies to vary, such as cleanliness, loading levels, ambient temperature, maintenance practices, lightning frequency, harmonics/power quality, humidity, and corrosion.

Loading levels and high ambient temperatures have a tremendous impact on life expectancy. There are a wide variety of insulating materials used in switchgear equipment, but a general rule of thumb is that the life of electrical insulation is reduced by half for every 10°C rise in average temperature. Thus, switchgear run fully loaded at its rated insulation temperature of 105°C has a life expectancy of about 10 years. If the temperature drops to 85°C, that same piece of equipment may last for 36 years. On the other hand, if temperature is increased to 125°C, it may only last two years. In summary, running switchgear at 80% load increases its typical life from about 10 to 40 years. (Source: “Expected Life of Electrical Equipment,” Siemens Tech Topics No. 15, W10-0002). High temperatures and full-loading shortens the “bathtub” and quickly pushes equipment into its wear-out period.

Returning to the tire analogy, consider the risk of a blowout on a car with four bald tires versus just one, or picture an entire fleet with bald tires. The odds of a blowout just dramatically increased. This also holds true for sites with multiple aging electrical components. Failures are likely as equipment ages, and ignoring the signs of aging equipment will likely cost you in unplanned downtime and expensive repairs. Finding replacement parts will also become a challenge as parts for older equipment become obsolete.

To keep equipment running and maximize life expectancy, include regular maintenance as part of your regular work procedures. Keep equipment clean, schedule annual preventive maintenance, and verify the equipment is in safe working condition. If you follow the simple process in Five Steps to a Safer Electrical Room, you’ll be headed down the right path to finding small problems before they become big ones.

Five Steps to a Safer Electrical Room

Is your electrical room safe? If you haven’t maintained it — and don’t know where to start — follow these five simple steps to improve safety. The best part of this plan is that it’s cost effective.

Step 1: Spring Cleaning

  • Sweep the floor.
  • Remove trash.
  • Remove unused equipment.
  • Remove non-electrical system equipment.
  • Replace light fixture bulbs.
  • Seal the room from dust.

Step 2: Annual and Preventive Maintenance

  • Tighten connections.
  • Cycle the breakers.
  • Verify all fuses are a matching set.
  • Review settings in equipment to match the last coordination/arc flash study performed.
  • Ask your local electrical supply house to generate a list of spare parts.
  • Install spare parts shelving.
  • Pressurize the room.

Step 3: Safe and Secure

  • Install proper safety signage.
  • Ensure PPE and lockout/tagout equipment is readily available.
  • Ensure all guards and covers are installed.
  • Plug unused holes in equipment.
  • Properly secure all enclosures and raceways.
  • Install panic hardware on doors and have them swing out of the room.
  • Install insulating mats for working clearance issues.

Step 4: Ensure Proper Documentation

  • Redline drawings to match equipment.
  • Post base documentation and charts in paper, poster, or iPad format.
  • Create a directory for each motor and its location in the room to facilitate lockout/tagout.

Step 5: Label All Equipment to Match Documentation

  • Switchboards
  • MCCs
  • Panelboards

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the origial article and read more at: http://ecmweb.com/ops-maintenance/treat-your-electrical-equipment-your-automobile-tires?page=1

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New NFPA Certification for Facility Managers: Emergency Power Systems Specialist

NFPA has created a new certification program: Certified Emergency Power Systems Specialist (CEPSS) for Facility Managers. It was created after extensive market research was conducted with facility managers from a wide range of industries. The research indicated a strong desire to have a credential that highlights their knowledge of the many challenges associated with emergency and standby power, as well as stored electrical energy emergency and standby power systems, and how to keep their facilities in compliance with the 2016 editions of NFPA 110, Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems, and NFPA 111, Standard on Stored Electrical Energy Emergency and Standby Power Systems.

Paul Dunphy, Electrical Inspector and Compliance Coordinator for Harvard University was involved in the development of the certification. He states, “It is critical to life safety that a facility manager understands the operation and maintenance requirements of generator systems. This certification helps demonstrate your knowledge of critical building life safety systems and their role in overall building operations.”

CEPSS FM logo rgb

To earn your CEPSS for Facility Managers, complete the application and pass the online exam. Earning this professional certification indicates your:

• Competence with both emergency and standby power and stored electrical energy emergency and standby power systems

• Proficiency in the use of NFPA 110 and NFPA 111

• Professionalism

• Dedication to personal professional development

The CEPSS exam is a computer-based, three-hour, open-book examination, containing 100 multiple-choice questions. The exam is based on the 2016 editions of NFPA 110, Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems, and NFPA 111, Standard on Stored Electrical Energy Emergency and Standby Power Systems and is designed to evaluate the candidate’s knowledge of emergency power supply systems principles and code application skills. These are the only reference sources that may be present during the examination.

For more information about CEPSS go to: nfpa.org/cepss

P3 offers some valuable information about the changes to NFPA 70E and the NEC in our PQU Electrical Electrical Safety for Facility Managers & Building Owners Seminar

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the origial article and read more at: http://ecmweb.com/fire-security/new-certification-facility-managers-emergency-power-systems-specialist

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The 10 Biggest Grounding Mistakes to Avoid

There’s more to proper grounding and bonding than meets the eye. When tackling this type of work, the end goal is obviously to prevent unwanted voltage on non-current-carrying metal objects and facilitate the correct operation of overcurrent devices. But that doesn’t mean wiring everything to a ground rod and calling it a day. In order to provide safe installations to the public, there are certain subtleties you must follow in order to meet applicable NEC rules. Although ground theory is a vast subject, we’ve put together 10 of the most common grounding errors electricians run into on any given day in the field.

Improper Replacement of Non-Grounding Receptacles

Here is a non-grounding type receptacle typically found in older homes. The NEC doesn’t say you have to immediately replace all noncompliant equipment with each new edition of the Code. Although it’s acceptable to leave the old “two prongers” in place — because an intact functioning equipment ground is such an obvious safety feature — most electricians tend to replace them. When you find yourself working with non-grounded receptacles, your best course of action is to run a new branch circuit back to the panel, verifying presence of a valid ground. Another possibility is to replace the two-prong receptacle with a GFCI. If replacement is necessary — and acquiring a ground is not feasible — you can also install a new non-grounding receptacle.

Installation of a Satellite Dish Without Proper Grounding

If you look at all of the satellite dish installations out there, you’ll inevitably find many that are not grounded. Of those that are, there is still a good chance that the installation is not fully compliant. Common mistakes installers should avoid include making the grounding electrode conductor too long or too short, using unlisted clamps at terminations, having excess bends, or connecting to a single ground rod but not bonding to other system grounds. The grounding means for a satellite dish must be located at the point of entrance to the building. In this particular installation, the grounding conductor is integral with the coax from the dish, but the installer did not bond it to other system grounds.

Not Installing GFCIs Where Required

With the passage of each new Code cycle comes the increased use of GFCIs in more applications. As an electrician, make sure you know when and where these devices are mandatory. In dwelling units, for example, the 2008 NEC notes that GFCIs are required on all 125V, single-phase, 15A and 20A receptacles in: bathrooms; garages; accessory buildings with a floor at or below grade level not intended as a habitable room, limited to storage, work and similar areas; outdoors; kitchens along countertops; within 6 feet of outside edge of laundry, utility, and wet bar sinks; and boathouses. In other than dwelling units, GFCIs are required on all 125V, single-phase, 15A and 20A receptacles in bathrooms, kitchens, rooftops, outdoors, and within 6 feet of the outside edge of sinks.

Improperly Connecting the Equipment-Grounding Conductor to the System Neutral

The grounded conductor (white) and the grounding conductor (bare or green) should not be connected together except by the main bonding jumper in the service equipment. You must connect a grounded neutral conductor to normally noncurrent-carrying metal parts of equipment, raceways, and enclosures only through the main bonding jumper (or, in the case of a separately derived system, through a system bonding jumper). Make this connection at the service disconnecting means, not downstream. It's a major error to install a main bonding jumper in a box used as a subpanel fed by a 4-wire feeder. It's also wrong not to install it when the panel is used as service equipment.

Improperly Grounding Frames of Electric Ranges and Clothes Dryers

This image shows two NEC-compliant 4-wire receptacles and an obsolete 3-wire receptacle in the middle. Before the 1996 version of the NEC, it was common practice to use the neutral as an equipment ground. Now, however, you must ground all frames of electric ranges, wall-mounted ovens, counter-mounted cooking units, clothes dryers, and outlet or junction boxes that are part of these circuits by a fourth wire — the equipment-grounding conductor. An exception permits retention of the pre-1996 arrangement for existing branch circuit installations only where an equipment-grounding conductor is not present. If possible, the best course of action is to run a new 4-wire branch circuit from the panel. If you must keep an old appliance, be sure to remove the neutral to frame bonding jumper if an equipment-grounding conductor is to be connected.

Failure to Ground Submersible Well Pumps

Once upon a time, submersible well pumps were not required to be grounded because they were not considered “accessible.” Over the years, however, people started pulling the pump out, laying it on the ground, and energizing it to see if it would spin. As a result, if the case became live (due to a wiring fault), the overcurrent device would not function, causing a shock hazard. Per the 2008 NEC, a fourth equipment-grounding conductor is required that you must now lug to the top of the well casing. Although many electricians assume that one wire is a “ground” in a 3-wire submersible pump system, in actuality, submersible pump cable consists of three wires (plus equipment-grounding conductor) twisted together and unjacketed. Yellow is a common 240V leg, black is run, and red is start, which the control box energizes for a short period of time. Prior to the new grounding requirement, everything was hot.

Failure to Properly Attach the Ground Wire to Electrical Devices

Wiring daisy-chained devices in such a way that removing one of them breaks the equipment grounding continuity is a common problem among electricians. The preferred way to ground a wiring device is to connect incoming and outgoing equipment-grounding conductors to a short bare or green jumper. The bare or green insulated jumper is then connected to the grounding terminal of the device.

Failure to Install a Second Ground Rod Where Required

A single ground rod that does not have a resistance to ground of 25 ohms or less must be augmented by a second ground rod. Once the second ground rod is installed, it's not necessary for the two to meet the resistance requirement. As a practical matter, few electricians do the resistance measurement and simply drive a second ground rod. If you install a second rod you must locate it at least 6 feet away from the first rod. Greater distance is even better. If both rods and the bare ground electrode conductor connecting them are directly under the drip line of the roof, ground resistance will be further diminished. This is because the soil along this line is more moist. Ground resistance greatly increases when soil becomes dry.

Failure to Properly Reattach Metal Raceway Used as an Equipment-Grounding Conductor

When equipment is relocated, replaced, or removed for repair, many times equipment ground paths are broken. If these connections are not fixed, there's an accident waiting to happen. Section 250.4 of the NEC requires that electrical equipment, wiring, and other electrically conductive material likely to become energized shall be installed in a manner that creates a low-impedance circuit from any point on the wiring system to the electrical supply source to facilitate the operation of overcurrent devices. As such, standard locknuts or bushings shall not be the sole connection for grounding purposes, as shown above.

Failure to Bond Equipment Ground to Water Pipe

How many times have you seen an improper connection like this in the field? Here someone used a water pipe clamp to improperly connect a ground wire to this ground rod. Screw clamps and other improvised connections do not provide permanent low impedance bonding. The worst method would be to just wrap the wire around the pipe or to omit this bonding altogether. In a dwelling unit, a conductor must be run to metallic water pipe, if present, and connected with a UL-listed pipe grounding clamp. This bonding conductor is to be sized according to Table 250.66 of the NEC, based on the size of the largest ungrounded service entrance conductor or equivalent area for parallel conductors.

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the origial article and read more at: http://ecmweb.com/galleries/10-biggest-grounding-mistakes-avoid?PK=UM_Top517&utm_rid=CPG04000000918978&utm_campaign=12555&utm_medium=email&elq2=d418e29a1396457db92f63794e126651#slide-0-field_images-50801

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Energy Upgrades That Are Worth Your Time

In many companies, there’s a push to save energy by replacing existing lighting with LED equivalents. Although that’s not a bad idea, it would be better to rethink the entire lighting scheme so that you can make full use of what LED systems can offer. This requires some legwork, but it’s worthwhile.
Be aware that a focus on going to LED may leave considerable energy savings unrealized. Plus, you have to factor in the costs of installation and (likely) disruption of work for replacing one lighting system with another. The costs and disruptions are almost certain to be worth it, but you may achieve other energy savings at probably lower cost and probably with little or no disruption.

PFC Unit400

Here are a few other areas where you should direct some attention:

Motor vibration — What’s really going on when a motor vibrates? Energy is being converted into motion. If the mass of the motor is moving half an inch back and forth 100 times per minute, how much energy does it take to do that mechanical work?

Fixing this problem gives you respectable energy savings while reducing wear on the motor system and whatever it’s coupled to. Conduct vibration analysis on all of your motors, starting with the largest ones. For critical motors and your largest ones, seriously consider installing vibration monitoring. If you already have vibration monitoring, who is monitoring the monitor and what action is being taken?

Power factor — A common misconception is that installing power factor (PF) correction capacitors at the service entrance saves you energy. What it does at this point of installation is reduce or eliminate the PF penalty that the utility might levy. To save energy, you need to install PF correction at the load. For example, install PF capacitors at your largest motors; if any have an electronic drive, contact the drive manufacturer for advice.

Supply losses — You want to get power from the source of supply to the load with the lowest losses you can reasonably ensure. Losses may exist in the conductors and at connection/termination points. For the conductors, start with voltage drop calculations. Upsize any long runs as needed. Then review your cable testing program to see if it’s adequate. If you don’t have one, establish it. If a plant has been operating for several years (or more) without a cable testing program, it’s often a real jaw-dropper to see just how bad the cables are. At the very least, your feeders should be on an insulation resistance testing program.

A thermographic inspection program that includes all accessible connections and terminations is a cost-effective way to detect losses at these points. Conducting AC resistance testing across made connections can tell you just how bad a connection is; use that figure to calculate the energy losses across the connection (how many watts it’s costing you). Bolted connections are best repaired not by merely tightening them, but by disassembling them, cleaning them, reassembling them with new hardware, and tightening them to the specified torque.

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the origial article and read more at: http://ecmweb.com/electrical-testing/energy-upgrades-are-worth-your-time

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2017 National Electrical Code Changes

The NFPA Code Making Panels and Technical Committee have wrapped up work on the latest edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). The 2017 NEC was published by the NFPA and is now available.

Drawing upon the expertise of our long-standing NEC Consultant and Code guru Mike Holt, this article breaks down the key changes to the 2017 NEC that affect the largest number of our readers. This group of 25 revisions focuses on many topics — some of which are straightforward in nature and others that may spark industry debate. Take, for example, one change regarding 110.14 that may cause confusion. It requires the installer to use a properly calibrated tool for conductor terminations when a tightening torque is specified for the terminal by the manufacturer. According to Holt, this new rule may prove to be challenging because it brings up additional questions, such as: Does the inspector have to be on-site during the terminations to verify the tool being used? How will he or she know the tool is calibrated correctly? Has the tool been dropped since being calibrated? Should the inspector carry his or her own tools? Although this new rule may create some growing pains, Holt reminds us that it is intended to increase safety by ensuring proper terminations, which is definitely a good thing.

As you read through the analysis, please note that the underlined text is NEW to the Code. Although it might be slightly reworded or shortened from the actual text in the NEC, it’s a good representation of the intent of the real rule change.

Click here to read about NEC Changes: http://ecmweb.com/nec/2017-national-electrical-code-changes

Or Download PDF here: http://p3-inc.com/images/easyblog_images/News_Images/2017_code_changes_summary.pdf 

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Two injured after 'arc flash' at Offutt AFB, officials say

offutt kenney gate

BELLEVUE, Neb.  Two people were injured in an industrial accident Wednesday at Offutt Airforce Base.

First responders told WOWT 6 News the victims both suffered burns after an arc flash occurred causing a flash fire, pressure blast and sound blast. Officials with Offutt said one person injured was a member of the 55th Wing Civil Engineering Squadron and the other was an Omaha Public Power District employee. The injured were working on an electrical circuit around 2:30 p.m. when the accident occurred.

"Team Offutt's thoughts and prayers are with both of the injured," Marty Reynolds, 55th Wing commander said. "The 55th Wing Civil Engineering Squadron commander visited them last night and both are alert; in good spirits; and receiving outstanding care. Team Offutt is ready to assist wherever needed and we wish them both a speedy recovery."

Both patients were transported off the base to area hospitals. The extent of their injuries is not yet known. They were both conscience and alert at the time of transport.

An investigation is underway.

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See the origial article and read more at: http://www.wowt.com/content/news/Two-injured-by-electric-shock-at-Offutt-AFB-officials-say--405305396.html

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Schneider Electric Empowers Government Data Centers to Realize DCOI Compliance and Improved Efficiency

  • Enables government data centers to meet DCOI mandates by 2018 deadline

  • Improves data center efficiency with current PUE assessment

  • Provides expert insight on strategy development and implementation to optimize operations and streamline monitoring

ANDOVER, Mass. – Nov. 30, 2016 – Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation, today introduced the industry’s first comprehensive Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) offer that integrates the solutions and expertise needed to meet mandates outlined by the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI). Through DCIM, government agencies can gain visibility and insight into hardware, software and services enabling them to make the strategic decisions necessary for starting on the road to compliance.

With nearly 12,000 government data centers in operation today, government agencies are challenged to meet the DCOI requirements of reducing the size and number of IT systems, while keeping federal agencies connected, reliable and safe.1 Enacted on Aug. 1, 2016, DCOI requires government agencies to develop and report on data center strategies in an effort to consolidate inefficient infrastructure, optimize existing facilities, achieve cost savings and transition to more efficient infrastructures by Sept. 30, 2018.2 Additionally, DCOI sets a goal for agencies to close at least 25 percent of their tiered data centers and 60 percent of their non-tiered data centers (i.e. server rooms) to consolidate duplicative federal data centers by the 2018 deadline.

The new offer includes assessment services, monitoring tools, physical infrastructure solutions and access to Schneider Electric’s team of DCIM experts to help federal customers gain greater insight into data center operations that can ultimately be used to improve data center efficiency, reliability, connectivity and sustainability. To further benefit from these enhancements, Schneider Electric also offers an optional Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC), so agencies can allocate the utility saving achieved over time to fund energy improvement projects.

“Achieving compliance can be a lofty, expensive and time-consuming undertaking, but with the right tools in place, government agencies will meet the DCOI mandates and experience greater efficiency, sustainability and cost savings,” said Jeffrey Chabot, Director of Government Segment Strategy, Schneider Electric-IT Division. “Through our DCIM offer, federal data center managers have access to a full solution—from assessment to implementation and service—as well as expert support to determine the best hardware, software and service needs on the road to DCOI compliance.”

To help data center managers streamline operations as they strive to meet the DCOI mandates, Schneider Electric’s DCIM offer provides customized strategies that fit the needs of government agencies for measurable savings, enhanced reliability and greater efficiency. Key features include:

  • Assessment and planning for targeted approach: Schneider Electric’s DCIM offer provides a detailed evaluation of existing IT to help customers identify which data centers can be consolidated for maximum efficiency gains and improved Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE).
  • Infrastructure improvements that benefit all parts of IT operations: Through Schneider Electric’s integrated, high-density, high-efficiency IT room systems, government agencies can increase data center reliability, connectivity and agility, while lowering costs.
  • Guaranteed energy savings, resulting in funding improvements: Schneider Electric’s DCIM offer is available with an optional Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC). With this contract, customers can fund energy improvement projects using private financing and the funding is paid for through utility saving over time. If customers don’t see the savings, Schneider Electric will reimburse the allocated funds

For more information on the Schneider Electric’s DCIM offer, please visit the Schneider Electric Federal Government IT Solutions web page: http://www.apc.com/us/en/solutions/government-and-education/federal.jsp

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the origial article and read more at: www.schneider-electric.us/documents/news/product-news/2016/SchneiderElectric-DCOI-SolutionNewsRelease-113016.pdf

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NEC Code Requirements for Surge Protection

nec spd code 2017 p3

Click image to download PDF or download here: nec_spd_code_2017.pdf

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