Dr. Robin Podmore, President
A complex smart grid environment calls for specialized expertise and training to support personnel to operate their systems safely, reliably, and economically while adapting to greater uncertainty and variability. This is where IncSys comes in. Empowering power system operators, IncSys partners with PowerData Corp—a real-time control and simulation expert—and uses realistic operator training simulators to equip operations personnel to be the very best real-time decision makers.
“IncSys and PowerData are the only team building power system simulators to also offer full-service system operator training,” says Dr. Robin Podmore, President, IncSys. “We have worked with some of the world’s best power system operator training groups to perform large scale restoration and emergency drills.” They offer affordable simulation-based training programs to address operation of systems during uncertainties of weather, renewable energy, deregulation, and cyber threats. PowerSimulator, a joint effort of IncSys and PowerData, emerges as their flagship product for power system operator training. Starting with a planning file, a reliability model, can be built very quickly to model any transmission operator or reliability region within North America or the world. From there, the model can be customized to mimic the layout of a Transmission Operator’s substation breakers and switches. PowerSimulator is installable both on cloud and portable Linux servers. “Our customers require simulation-based training and not just simulation software. So we customize the models by building appropriate real-life scenarios for training and deliver it on a SaaS basis,” notes Dr. Podmore. Besides providing round-the-clock access to the simulator, the cloud service allows the customers to report problems encountered during a simulation session and have them corrected during the same or next session. The expertise in simulation models has helped IncSys enable the transition from paper-based restoration drills to simulation-based ones.
Most primarily, the maturity of a system-operator training program depends on a rich library of realistic scenarios built over time.
The IncSys Academy and the hypothetical Cascadia System, based on the geography of Washington State, is used as a clearing house to take events and experiences on real systems and share them with other trainers without compromising Critical Energy/Electric Infrastructure Information. PowerSimulator has a user interface similar to an Energy Management System (EMS), but it is easily configurable to support the roles of diverse organizations that might participate in a regional drill.
Today, PowerSimulator is being used by reliability coordinators, transmission operators, and balancing authorities to model entire regions for emergency operations and restoration drills to understand transmission and generation outages caused by tornadoes and hurricanes as well as physical and cyber attacks.
The IncSys and PowerData Cyber Business Resiliency, Integrity and Continuity Kit (BRICK) provides a robust and affordable solution for minimizing the damage to equipment and disruption to operations under Cyber events. “It is feasible to apply PowerSimulator to model systems in real-time by manually updating line status and generator outputs, when the primary and backup EMS is unavailable,” explains Dr. Podmore. He further adds that feeder loads could be modelled based on cold load pickup factors and historical values.
IncSys recently completed a two-day course at Arizona State University that included, a utility Cyber Defense Manager and two Cyber Security Architects along with Ph.D. students working on a DHS and NSF funded Cyber-Physical Grid Security Project. The course objective was to prepare power system operators and cyber security personnel to shut down computer systems and electrical systems if needed to prevent safety hazards, damage to equipment and cascading outages. The real-life visualizations provided by PowerSimulator were widely appreciated as it helped participants understand the effects how a cyber-attack can damage equipment as well as shut down the power system.
The unique and innovative approach to training has resulted in IncSys’ services being sought across the U.S., and in nations including Ireland, Brazil, Iraq, Sarawak and Kenya for transmission system operator training. “Our robust installed base can catalyze operator training for customers having challenging processes,” states Dr. Podmore. To achieve this, IncSys has partnered with universities to work with open source software and create new grounds for applications. The company has also trained over 200 veterans as power system operators. With a goal to increase its market share in training both transmission and distribution operators to produce quality staff, IncSys is all set to script more success stories.