Extra High Voltage

1960-s were marked by construction of new extra high voltage electric grids. There was need in large amounts of electric power from the USSR in Romania and Hungary with their developing industries, and it was the time when power systems of Eastern Europe countries, which were part of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON), united. In the long run, it was planned to create the Unified Power System of Eastern bloc.

By the middle of 1960-s, the USSR had started to implement 750 kV voltage class. Experimental and industrial power transmission line Konakova-Moscow of 87.7 km running from Opytnaya sustation in the area of Konakovskaya GRES to Bely Rast substation became the first national 750 kV power transmission line.

The results of large-scale testing of power transmission structures and substation equipment made it possible to initiate the construction of 750 kV industrial power transmission line.

In 1975, 750 kV transmission line Leningrad-Konakovo with 750/330 kV Leningradskaya substation was put into operation. This power transmission line connected the power systems of Central and Northwestern District, which made it possible to transfer surplus capacities of Northwestern District to the scarce areas of Center, Volga and Urals.

In the early 1970s, the large construction of Transukranian power transmission line 750 kV Donbass-Western Ukraine with total length 1100 km was started. It was necessary to transfer the power from Donbass to the developing industrial areas of Western Ukraine and to strengthen links with power systems of the South of Russia. Later, the main line was extended by building in 1978 the interstate power transmission line 750 kV Western Ukraine (USSR) - Albertirsa (Hungary). In the following year, the parallel operation of the Unified Power System of the USSR and the Integrated Power System of member-countries of the COMECON began. During 1980s, the construction of 750 kV became mass-scale. The whole world recognized the success of Russian specialists in the implementation and development of 750 kV voltage power lines. All equipment used during the construction of 750 kV (and 500 kV) lines was domestically produced. The USA and Canada used imported equipment for these voltage classes.

In august 1977, the panel of the Ministry of Energy, who had recognized the significant success of the Long-Term Transmission Directorate in the implementation of 500 and 750 kV power transmission lines, decided to transform the Directorate for Long-Term Power Transmission Operation into Production Association “Long-Term Power Transmission” by assigning to it the customer’s responsibility in the construction of extra high voltage power transmission lines.

The same year, in order to connect the power systems of Siberia with the Eastern part of the country, the Soviet Government decided to build a powerful backbone transmission line Siberia - Kazakhstan - Urals. The construction and commissioning of 1150 kV power transmission line was divided into several stages. In 1985, the voltage of 1150 kV was applied at section Ekibastuz - Kokshetau, including 1150 kV substations Ekibastuzskaya and Kokshetauskaya. In 1988, new voltage class was applied at the section from Kokshetau to Kostanay. Due to the construction of Kustanayskaya substation, line Ekibastuz - Kokshetau - Kostanay with the length of 900 km became the world’s first 1150 kV power transmission line.

The testing facility of Bely Rast substation provided outstanding assistance at that stage. Studies carried out at this facility allowed to verify the ultra-high voltage equipment and to train experts to operate these lines.

Further increase of power transmission capacity was associated with the switching its last section from Kostanay to Chelyabinsk to 1150 kV. But the project wasn’t mean to be completed, because in 1991 the economic and political conditions in the country changed, and the speed of construction and commissioning of power supply network facilities dropped. The construction of direct-current power transmission line of 1500 kV Ekibastuz - Center, which was started in 1978, was also suspended.

RAO UES of Russia and power sector restructuring

In December 1992, Open Joint-Stock Company of power and electrification “Integrated Power System of Russia”, RAO UES of Russia, was established. In accordance with the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation, bulk power lines were included into its authorized capital. The Company has actually unified the entire Russian electric power industry. 72.1% of the installed capacity was transferred in operation to the companies belonging to RAO UES, which allowed them to provide 69.8% of total energy generated and 32.7% of thermal energy, and transport almost the entire (96%) power. The installed capacity of group companies exceeded 156 GW, which made it the largest energy company in the world.

Foundation of RAO UES of Russia made it possible to maintain reliable power supply to the consumers. One of the most important objectives of RAO UES was stepwise organization of Federal Electricity and Power Output Wholesale Market (FEPOWM).

In 1997, territorially autonomous subdivisions, Intersystem electrical grids, were organized as part of RAO UES of Russia: in the Center, North-West, South, Volga, Urals, Siberia, East.

In 1998, transmission line Barnaul-Itat was commissioned at 500 kV. In a year, the synchronization of integrated power system of Siberia and Kazakhstan with European Russia was restored, and agreements for interconnected operation in cooperation with Georgia and Azerbaijan were signed. The conclusion of the same agreement with Ukraine and Lithuania made it possible to restore the unified power space in the territory of the former USSR.

Until 2000, the level of payment for the Company’s services by the consumers remained very low, i.e. no more than 85%, of which less than 20% were paid in hard cash, and the rest - in promissory notes, setoffs, barters. By the beginning of 1998, the debt of consumers had exceeded 100 billion RUB, which, in its turn, led to the quick growth of accounts payable of the companies belonging to RAO UES of Russia. The lack of funding complicated the activity of energy companies due to the shortage of fuel, non-payment of salary to the employees, freezing the construction of new power facilities, reduction of renovation scopes.

By 2000, RAO UES of Russia had achieved 100 percent level of payment for electric power and heating by the consumers, and settled its tax liabilities and debts owed to its business partners. Within the shortest possible period of time, the risk of bankruptcy, to which a number of regional energy companies belonging to the holding were exposed, was eliminated, the obligation to pay salaries was settled, and the outflow of skilled personnel was stopped.

The economic growth which started in Russia in 2000 also led to the growth of energy consumption. Demand for electric power in Russia increased annually by 2-4%. During 2000-2007, it increased by 15.7%, i.e. from 851.2 to 985.2 billion kWh.  To meet the needs of economy, there was a necessity to restructure the power industry. On 4 April 2000, the first draft of the Company Restructuring Concept was submitted to the Board of Directors of RAO for consideration.

The main goal of this transformation, as defined by the reform ideologists, was to lay the groundwork for attraction of private investors to the industry. Regional energy JSCs were divided into generation, retail and distribution companies.

Completion of structural reform and the need to promote real competition in the sector of power generation and sales made the existence of parent company unnecessary. The former monopoly structure of the electric power industry, where all parts of the chain, from generations to sales, were under the control of one company, was liquidated. RAO UES of Russia was replaced by new independent power market participants. RAO UES of Russia, which ceased its operations on 30 June 2008, was replaced by new independent players in the electric market.

Federal Grid Company was founded in accordance with a decision of the Russian Government in the summer of 2001, as part of electric energy sector re-structuring. Federal grid company was founded to control the Unified National Power Grid (UNPG). The State registration of the Company took place on 25 June 2002. RAO UES of Russia, which was the sole founder, transferred the backbone integrated power grid related to the UNPG to the Company’s authorized capital.

While restructuring measures in the electric energy industry were carried out, electric grid units in the UNEG under Federal Grid Company management were being consolidated. In 2007, in the course of the re-organization of AO-energo (RAO UES of Russia’s subsidiaries and affiliates), 56 regional electricity transmission grid companies (MSKs) were created. MSK shares owned by RAO UES of Russia were transferred to pay for the additional issue of Federal Grid Company shares. On July 1st, 2008, 54 MSKs were integrated as part of Federal Grid Company, as the final stage of RAO UES of Russia re-organization. Another 2 MSKs (the Tomsk Backbone Grids and the Kuban Backbone Grids) remained subsidiaries of Federal Grid Company. As a result, more than 470 thousand of former shareholders of RAO UES of Russia and MSK have become the shareholders of the Federal Grid Company.

Today, the Federal Grid Company comprises unique infrastructure forming the physical backbone of the state economy. The area of responsibility of FGC spans 142 thousand km of high-voltage backbone power lines and 944 substations with a total capacity over 345 thousand MVA.  The Company provides reliable power supply to the consumers in 77 regions of Russia and serves about 15.1 million km. The electric power transferred within the grids of PJSC FGC UES helps to cover nearly half of total power consumption in the country. The largest power holding of the country is a member of PJSC Rosseti and owns 80.13% of company’s shares. In 2018, the number of employees of FGC exceeds 22 thousand people. 

FGC UES is also included in the list of backbone organizations of strategic importance for the country.