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Findings from the Newton-Evans Research Company study completed in February 2015 indicate that a substantial number of electric utilities are using distribution automation technologies such as FDIR/FLISR and VVC/VVO/CVR, but the number of operating feeders currently configured with these features is still relatively low. These observations are based on a survey of 75 electric T&D utilities in the U.S. and Canada providing electric power service to 32 million customers (approximately 20% of North America’s electricity end users, according to Newton-Evans estimates.)

Percentage of all feeders that have Fault Detection Isolation Restoration (FDIR) or Fault Location Isolation Service Restoration (FLISR) Capabilities
On a summary basis, nearly one-third of the responding utilities (32%) cited their operation of one or more primary distribution feeders configured with FDIR/FLISR capabilities. However, the overall installed base of feeders with FDIR/FLISR capabilities was quite small, standing at about five percent of the total number of feeders operated by these utilities. According to the survey sample, six percent of 13-15kV feeders and seven percent of 22-26kV feeders are configured to provide FDIR/FLISR functionality.


Percentage of feeders that support integrated Volt/VAR control (VVC), Volt Var Optimization (VVO), or Conservation Voltage Reduction (CVR)
Just over half of all respondents reported having at least some feeders supporting Integrated Volt/Var Control, Volt/Var Optimization (VVC/VVO) or Conservation Voltage Reduction (CVR). The 75 respondents indicated an installed base of 34,122 feeders across 4 voltage levels: 4kV (5,094 feeders), 13kV/15kV (22,831 feeders), 22kV/26kV (4,214 feeders), and 33kV/38kV (1,983 feeders). Overall, respondents indicated that 32% of all feeders currently support VVC, VVO or CVR, but out of 4,214 feeders at the 22/24kV level about 59% support these capabilities.


Percentage of utilities integrating VVC, VVO or CVR by year end 2017
Overall, 68% of the utilities replying to this question indicated that at least some feeders will support integrated IVV control/VVO and/or CVR by year-end 2017.

Decision factors for implementing VVC/VVO
Respondents indicated that “cost savings effected by reducing the need for infrastructure enhancements” was the single most-cited driver for volt-Var optimization (VVO) implementation, as reported by 38% of respondents. Additional cost savings brought about by “reducing the need for additional generation” was second in importance, at 33%. About 1 in 5 respondents also cited “regulatory compliance” as a significant driver for implementing VVO.

Other reasons mentioned for implementing include peak shaving to reduce demand costs, reducing losses, and maintaining power factor. A few utilities mentioned that VVO is either not a requirement for them or that they do not want to implement additional technology simply to raise revenue.

To see a table of contents and pricing information for the “North American Distribution Automation Market Assessment and Outlook: 2015-2017″ visit our reports page

Findings Corroborate Earlier Newton-Evans Studies Regarding “Mixed” Placement of Controls of Field Devices

The Newton-Evans Research Company today released key findings from its newly published study of electric utility plans for distribution automation. Entitled “North American Distribution Automation Market Assessment and Outlook: 2015-2017” the 89-page report includes coverage of more than 35 DA-related issues.

Progress Being Made with Distribution Automation Programs:
North American utilities are making good progress in developing and implementing new DA applications and telecommunications network upgrades. The overall DA market among North American utilities is approaching one billion dollars and will continue to grow each year for the foreseeable future.

DA Controls Placement:
The placement of DA controls for field devices remains mixed. While some see controls being distributed to field locations, others are placing controls on substation automation platforms, while an even larger group is using control center systems-based approaches (centered on SCADA-DMS systems).

The outlook for controls placement in the future shows that utilities are bringing more controls for fault detection, isolation and service restoration (FDIR/FLISR) and for volt/var control (VVC) into the control center as shown in these charts.

FLISRcontrols VVCcontrols

Automatic Fault Sensing:
Devices providing information such as hot line status and fault indications are becoming a mainstay in many utility DA programs. IOUs and Canadian utilities were more likely to be using automatic fault sensing devices than were their counterparts at electric cooperatives or public power utilities. Usage patterns and plans for AFS devices were strongest among the respondent subgroup of very large utilities (those serving more than 500,000 customers). Of the subgroup using AFS devices, about one-third actively utilize the status of such devices in their DA schemes.

Integration of Communications and Controls for Distributed Generation into DA System Architecture:
By year-end 2014, only about 16% of utilities indicated some use of DA-related communications/controls while another 14% plan to integrate these for DG purposes by year-end 2017. In a related question, well over one third of the respondents indicated that they have a trial deployment to manage distributed energy resources within the DA system either underway or planned.

More than 30 additional topics are covered in the 2015-2017 Newton-Evans DA report. Seventy five major and mid-size utilities were surveyed and interviewed to gather the information for the report. This group provides a substantial sample, accounting for 20% of served customers and 19% of primary feeders across North America.

A supplemental North American DA market outlook synopsis for the years 2015 through 2020 will be released in March. The outlook supplement will provide DA market outlook information based on type, size and regional location of utilities.

Additional information on the North American Distribution Automation Market Assessment and Outlook: 2015-2017 report is available from Newton-Evans Research Company, 10176 Baltimore National Pike, Suite 204, Ellicott City, Maryland 21042. Phone 1-410-465-7316 or write to info@newton-evans.com

Save 25% Off Currently Available Reports

December 3, 2014

Through January 31, 2015, Newton-Evans Research is offering a 25% discount on all currently available 2014 and earlier reports. Click on the “Order Here” button and use the discount code “2014sale” at checkout to take advantage of this limited time offer, or give us a call at 410-465-7316 and mention this announcement when placing your […]

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Use of FDIR, Integrated Volt/Var Control, and Sensors on Distribution Feeders

November 17, 2014

The following information was excerpted from a Newton-Evans survey conducted in September 2010. A total of 47 utility officials from the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions responded to the survey participation request. For the majority of U.S.-based respondents, there was a good mix of utility representation by size and by type of utility. Approximately […]

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Distribution Automation: Communications for Feeder Automation

November 11, 2014

The following information was excerpted from a Newton-Evans survey conducted in September 2010. A total of 47 utility officials from the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions responded to the survey participation request. For the majority of U.S.-based respondents, there was a good mix of utility representation by size and by type of utility. Do […]

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Distribution Automation Apps That Will Share Network Space

October 28, 2014

In 2007, a Newton-Evans survey of electric utilities in North America showed that 65% of the sample planned to have capacitor bank control on the same telecommunications infrastructure as distribution automation. Thirty-eight percent said that Volt/Var optimization, demand management or voltage reduction applications will share the same telecoms as DA, and 13% indicated load balancing […]

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Newton-Evans Research Company plans to revisit the topic of Distribution Automation

October 16, 2014

Newton-Evans Research Company plans to revisit the topic of Distribution Automation (DA) by researching the market for DA field devices, communications methods, engineering service and Distribution Management Systems (DMS) applications software used in the control center, the substation, and on lines and poles. We will invite hundreds of North American electric transmission & distribution utilities […]

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2014 Autumn Electric Power Conference Season Well Underway

October 3, 2014

For the electric power industry, late summer through mid-autumn brings a number of conferences to the forefront each year or at least every two years. This year is no exception. From the international CIGRE Conference held in Paris every two years, to the annual EMMOS conference and Southeast Distribution Apparatus Conference, there are lessons to […]

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Ethernet in the Substation

August 27, 2014

Excerpts from this 2014 Newton-Evans study of the world market for substation automation show some interesting trends regarding the use of Ethernet networks in substations around North America. Some of these trends include: Electric utilities in North America are showing increased interest in IEEE 1613 as a requirement for Ethernet switches and routers Single network […]

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What to Expect Next: Potential Synergies of the Alstom (Power and Grid) Acquisition by General Electric

July 14, 2014

As many long-term readers of Newton-Evans’ reports and articles knew from our assessment reported in 2009 there were back then three major contenders for the $7 billion Transmission and Distribution business units of the old Areva T&D Corporation. These were the American firm General Electric, the French corporate combination of Alstom and Schneider Electric, and […]

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