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Assessing the Safety of Utility-Owned Smart Grid Equipment

smart grid safety online courses learn NESC smart grid

One of the biggest frontiers in electrical engineering today is the development and implementation of smart grid technology. Fueled by the global demand for greener technologies and alternative fuels, environmentally-friendly smart grid technology has the ability to stimulate stagnated economies and change the way power is delivered to electricity consumers around the world.

Smart grid technology combines existing electrical infrastructure with digital technologies and advanced application to provide much more efficient, reliable and cost-effective energy distribution. It’s a merger of power systems, information technology, telecommunications, switchgear and local power generation, along with other fields. As these separate technologies become merged, new safety considerations must be taken into account.

Ever since the days of Thomas Edison, people have been concerned with the safety of electrical devices. As innovative technologies and new opportunities and safety issues arise, the National Electrical Safety Code® (NESC®) evolves to address any and all concerns.

As Technology Advances, So Does the NESC

As plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and full electric vehicles (EVs) replace gasoline-only burning vehicles, public parking lots will need to be equipped with outdoor charging stations, including pay-for-use charging stations. These stations will integrate technologies such as electrical metering, switching, information technology, telecommunications and currency handling technology.

Safety comes into play in making the charging station terminals safe for unskilled drivers to use, guarding against intentional access to hazardous voltages, as well as in protecting communication circuits. This may mean putting telecommunication protectors at each end of a campus-run communication conductor where an exposure to lightning or to accidental contact with electric power conductors exists.

Vehicle charging stations are just one example of how advances in technology lead to NESC updates.

Stay on Top of the NESC

smart grid safety national electrical safety code 2017 ieee standardsThe safety of utility-owned smart grid equipment within power generation or transmission circuits, up to and including the service conductors to customer buildings, will to continue to be evaluated for safety in accordance with basic utility safety standards or codes, including NESC.

To help your company prepare to comply with the latest safety guidelines, IEEE offers a complete seven-course NESC program online through IEEE Xplore :

Order the complete program today and stay on top of the critical tech issues affecting the industry.

Resources

Gies, Don. (1 Mar 2014). Safety Considerations for Smart Grid Technology Equipment. In Compliance.

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The Smart Grid Could Hold the Keys to Electric Vehicles

Smart grid technology electric vehicles EVs IEEEGlobally, the use of Electric Vehicles (EV), a key component in the move to achieve overall sustainable urban mobility, is seeing strong growth and reaching record-breaking levels of sales. In anticipation of increasing challenges resulting from climate change and fossil fuel scarcity, utilities are faced with the challenges of decarbonizing electricity generation and meeting the growing energy demand. EVs can play a major role in providing energy-efficient and sustainable solutions for utilities, cities and countries. The Smart Grid, an electricity supply network that uses digital communications technology to detect and react to local changes in usage, is the foundation that will enable the adoption of EVs in the marketplace.

Charging Stations Powered by Smart Grid

The availability of charging stations throughout smart citiesincluding on the street, in off-street parking and garages, and in buildings, is a must for increasing adoption of EVs.

In cities throughout the United States, a number of entities are building charging stations. For now, many municipalities and private companies offer free recharges to EV owners as an incentive for using these clean vehicles. However, as EVs gain in popularity, these free recharges are likely to end, and charging station owners will be looking for a convenient way to charge EV owners.

smart car smart cities smart grid wireless charging

Smart Grid technologies offer a potential solution to this problem, allowing EVs to identify themselves to the charging station when they are plugged in and the electricity used can be automatically billed to the owner’s account.

With a Smart Grid recharging infrastructure in place, EVs can also help reduce the strain on the Smart Grid, as EVs can both take power from the grid when they are charging, and give back power when demand is high. This is a concept called “vehicle to grid.” By drawing on a multitude of batteries plugged into the Smart Grid throughout its service territory, a utility can potentially inject extra power into the grid during critical peak times.

Gear Up for the Grid

The Internet of Things is a crucial component to impending Smart Grid technologies. New to the IoT? Start with IEEE Guide to the Internet of Things.

Ready to expand your skills? Explore our library that includes hundreds of hours of online education designed to help you advance in your career.

Resources

Holland, Glesni. (1 April 2018). How sustainable tech is transforming Middle East utilities. Tehawul Tech.

What is the Smart Grid? SmartGrid.gov.

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Complete NESCⓇ Course Program Now Available

NESC 2017 edition, updates to national electrical safety code, IEEE NESC course program now availableRenewable energy technologies like solar and wind are delivering a steady stream of new distributed generation concepts and, along with new technologies related to Smart Grid and distributed energy resources, are changing the entire utility business model. Moreover, the build out of 4G and 5G small cell antenna systems that will enable the Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous vehicles (AV) depends largely on placing additional attachments onto existing utility structures. The potential impacts from all of this growth and expansion to our professional and personal lives are very significant.

Just as it has done for more than a century, the National Electrical Safety CodeⓇ (NESCⓇ) is continuously evolving and being refined to embrace new technologies while also addressing the opportunities and any safety issues they present. Regardless of your company’s role in the industry, this is clearly a time to be at the forefront of change. Participation in the NESC will provide the opportunity to both contribute–and benefit from–the non-stop innovation that is impacting our society and economy.

Recommend this course training program to your organization

When questions or issues arise in the field, it’s important that power utility workers know how to safely address the situation and comply with the latest safety guidelines. This training program will ensure your organization and its staff are prepared.

All seven online courses are now available for the 2017 edition of the NESC, exclusively through IEEE Xplore:

Stay on top of tech issues that are critically important to the success of your organization. Connect with an IEEE Content Specialist to order the entire NESC course program today.

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Is Your Community’s Electric Grid Prepared for a Malware Attack?

An Electric Grid Malware Attack must be prepared for, and defended against. New article from IEEE Educational Activities.

When you think of malware attacks, images of computers going haywire and networks being disrupted probably come to mind. But a malware attack can affect far more than that. In the Ukraine, an electric grid malware attack was recently discovered as the cause of power outages. Malware can have far-reaching consequences, affecting more than the computers in our personal lives or organizations. Now that malware has the potential to cut the power in our communities, we shudder to think: what else is at risk?

Areas of Concern

Malware researcher Robert Lipovsky of ESET (a Slovakian anti-virus software maker) reported that the malware found in Ukraine is easily reproducible and modifiable, such that it could also target local infrastructure such as transportation, water, and gas providers. Robert M. Lee, founder of Dragos (a U.S. critical-infrastructure security firm), says that while the malware is capable of causing outages lasting up to several days in parts of a nation’s grid, it is not powerful enough to put out the entire national grid. While this may be somewhat reassuring, this malware, also known as Industroyer or Crash Override, “is only the second piece of malware uncovered to date that is capable of disrupting industrial processes without the need for hackers to manually intervene” (Finkle, 2017). With cyber attacks on the rise though, it’s not likely to be the last. Electric grid malware attacks are likely to continue, along with other key infrastructure that is managed or maintained by computer systems.

Keeping an Eye Out

Malware, by definition, still primarily targets computer systems. But those systems can control more than we may realize, and the effects of malware on our systems can wreak disastrous havoc on things we depend on. As the Internet of Things becomes more prevalent and an increasing number of devices become connected, we must keep a close watch on any suspicious or abnormal activity within our networks, while also making sure we are consistently taking preventative measures. An electric grid malware attack is likely only the beginning.

Is your organization ready to handle a cyber attack? For more information on how to equip your technical professionals with the tools and techniques they need to defend your organization, check our IEEE’s courses, Hacking Your Company: Ethical Solutions to Defeat Cyber Attacks, and Cyber Security Tools for Today’s Environment.

References:

Finkle, J. (2017, June 12). Cyber firms warn of malware that could cause power outages. Reuters.

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