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Product Abstract

Feeder and Network Evolution for the Distribution System of the Future

Product ID:1011325
Date Published:16-Dec-2004
Sector Name:Power Delivery & Utilization
Document Type:Technical Results
Price:No Charge

This Product is publicly available. This report or any part of this report may NOT be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, transmitted or distributed in any way without EPRI's prior written consent.

   1.04 MB - Adobe PDF (.pdf)

Historically, electrical distribution systems have been designed to deliver power from the distribution substations to the end users. The future evolution of the distribution system, as envisioned in EPRI's Advanced Distribution Automation (ADA) initiative, will merge power delivery with distributed intelligent control and communications systems. This report covers the results of a survey of electric utilities and a follow-up seminar with survey participants. Survey responses were obtained from eleven US and Canadian utilities across a wide spectrum. Responders included large multi-state utilities, companies in large urban areas, publicly and privately owned utilities, and a small rural utility. These results will help to shape future planning as to the most effective pathways to move forward in the evolution of the distribution system of the future.


Electric utility managers who are responsible for distribution planning, new technology integration, automation and communications systems are the intended audience for this report. All types of electrical distribution companies and larger utilities which incorporate electrical distribution are impacted by this report. The process of automation is critical for future growth regardless of the economic structure of the utility, whether it be private or public, regulated or unregulated. The continued growth of automation in distribution systems provides increases in power quality and corresponding decreases in outage rates. In today's competitive environment, where large utility customers can locate anywhere in the world and move production in or out of a utility's service area at will, ADA technologies can help to provide a critical selling point.


This project examined ways in which the existing electrical distribution system infrastructure can be moved towards an ADA architecture using a gradual approach. This objective was accomplished by a survey of electrical utilities, followed by a workshop where survey participants discussed needs and methodology for the evolution of distribution systems.


Responses indicated a need for better feeder information with improved, two-way communication with switches, capacitor banks, voltage regulators, and other equipment. Lower-cost high bandwidth communications systems are essential for this to happen. The capabilities of microprocessor based protective relays to adaptively change their settings with changing system conditions while maintaining coordination need to be fully utilized. Automatic meter reading had a mixed response, while there was low interest in superconducting devices, distributed generation and energy storage at this time. Data and software integration issues are significant, as are the high capital and O&M costs for new systems. Adoption of the Utility Integrated Bus concept could improve the capability for data integration. Any improvements or technology that cannot survive in the harsh outdoor environment will not be accepted by utilities.

EPRI Perspective

ADA represents the confluence point for change and challenge in electric power distribution. Examples of the forces being brought to bear on distribution utilities are: aging systems, availability of improved distribution system technologies, demand for higher reliability, customer outage intolerance, industry restructuring, need for improved customer service options, and management of distributed generation. The brunt of these forces has not yet fully come to bear on the industry, leaving distribution system infrastructure poised for sweeping fundamental change.

Recognizing the costs and difficulties associated with this fundamental change and that this change is critical to the well being of the nation, EPRI has created the ADA Program. This project on Feeder and Network Evolution for the Distribution System of the Future was a necessary step in identifying early actions for transitioning to ADA. In today's business climate, it is imperative for the industry to position for more economically and effectively operating distribution systems of the future.

2004 Program 180   Distribution Systems
  • Energy Storage
  • Feeders
  • Electric Power Generation
  • Energy Resources
  • Distribution Automation

For further information about EPRI, call the EPRI Customer Assistance Center at (800) 313-3774 or email askepri@epri.com


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