Substation Automation and Optimization of Distribution Circuit Operations

Enhancing substation controls to maximize use of renewable and distribution energy resources

Advanced Power and Energy Program (APEP) - University of California, Irvine


Irvine, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Update

This project was completed in March 2019. The final report is in process for publication. UCI completed the development and simulation, in partnership with SCE, of the GMC for enhanced substation control. The GMC showed optimal control of DERs on the distribution feeder while using the IEEE 2030.7 microgrid controller standard. UCI will create a hardware-in-loop test for the configuration using industry standard substation equipment. Although the hardware test was not funded through the grant, UCI is committed to validating the research results for purpose of grid modernization and informing stakeholders. The research results from this project informed the top power technology vendors, such as GE, Siemens, and Schneider Electric. A retail market was simulated and various tariffs were evaluated to determine benefits to developers, utilities, and grid stability.

The Issue

To meet California's energy and climate policy goals, it is necessary to increase the penetration of distributed energy resources. These resources are controlled and operated individually and, as a result, may fail to achieve their full potential or create problems in the distribution system. The ability to control these resources as a group could overcome their challenges and enable this group to participate in wholesale markets. To provide the management and control needed to achieve these capabilities, detailed modeling and simulation of the dynamics of the system at the distribution level are required.

Project Innovation

This project developed a Generic Microgrid Controller (GMC) to allow electrical substation control over grid assets, including generation resources, energy storage, and controllable loads. The GMC improved grid management at the distribution level. The team assessed different tariffs and interconnection agreements for a portfolio of scenarios to address the participation of DERs in the market. In addition, a fictitious retail/distribution market was developed and assessed.

Project Benefits

This project led to technological advancement and breakthroughs by developing a control strategy to manage high penetrations of distributed energy assets (including generating resources, energy storage and controllable loads) as a single unit at a substation. The GMC managed dispatchable loads and generation, reducing stress on the grid by shedding unnecessary loads and dispatching generation as required. The GMC also includes an economic dispatch feature that determined the least expensive solution to serve all the loads.

Lower Costs

Lower Costs

The controller helps optimize dispatch of the available resources on the distribution system, which lowers operation costs by dispatching and utilizing available assets so that resources will be neither stranded nor under-utilized.

Greater Reliability

Greater Reliability

The controller provides visibility into the distribution system and will enable the operators to identify any issues quickly and respond to maintain system reliability.

Increase Safety

Increase Safety

Enhancing automation and control capabilities of a substation allows for quick resolution of safety issues. Controlling load further allows for ensuring that the critical loads are being served in case of an emergency.

Key Project Members

Project Member

G. Scott Samuelsen

Program Director

Match Partners

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