2.3 RELIABILITY IMPROVEMENT

Technical Policy

Federal Grid Company's Technical Policy is a system of goals, methods and forms of influence aimed at achieving a set of new technical solutions that ensure upgraded efficiency, reliability, technical development industrial safety and the creation and development of new technologies and electricity transmission methods. The Technical Policy is laid out by a fundamental document – Regulations on Federal Grid Company's Technical Policy.

Regulations on Technical Policy were approved by Federal Grid Company's Board of Directors (Minutes No. 123, as of 8 February, 2011).

Technical Upgrading and Reconstruction Outlook

Insufficient financing for Russian electric grid facilities, which began in the 1990s, has led to critical wear on fixed assets. Analyzing the age structure of equipment installed at the Company’s facilities indicates that the normative service life (25 years) has expired for more than 54% of equipment. The above-level service life (35 years and more) has expired for more than 22% of Federal Grid Company’s equipment.

The share of equipment with above-level service life is also expected to demonstrate significant growth during the next decade.

The physical and moral depreciation of equipment can lead to technological disruptions, accidents and increased maintenance expenses. Worn-out structural units for transmission lines can be damaged by external influences or cause increased electricity losses as a result of a larger load.

In 2010, Federal Grid Company drafted an activity plan aimed at modernizing and retro-fitting electric grids with several unique focuses based on estimating the current technical state and production capabilities of the Russian industry and construction companies.

Fixed Asset Renewal Program

The Company has developed the 2011-2016 Program for Fixed Asset Renovation – a program which strives to ensure electric grid facility reliability and efficiency. As estimated by the Company, with Renovation Program financing of RUR60 billion per year, Federal Grid Company will be able to break the trend of higher equipment wear-and-tear.

The Renewal Program involves:

  • The total launch of 69,147 MVA of capacity (til l 2016);
  • Reconstruction of more than 3,860 km of transmission lines;
  • Installation of 1,416 groups of 110-750-kV disconnecting switches, 4,245 circuit breakers of 110-750-kV and 1,712 groups of 11-750-kV current and voltage measuring transformers

Total financing for the 2011-2016 Fixed Asset Renovation Program is RUR355,714 million. Out of this amount, approximately 55% will be spent on the comprehensive reconstruction of the Company’s 1,015 facilities, including 198 substations and 61 transmission lines.

In 2011 the Company plans to adjust the financing plan for its Renovation Program and to modify the scope of work based on targets met in 2010. In 2011 the total capacity of facilities launched after comprehensive reconstruction will exceed 8,901 MVA.

2011-2016 Renovation Program Financing

Renovation programs 2011-2016, RUR mln
Comprehensive reconstruction 196 941
Non-comprehensive reconstruction 46 805
Program to replace 330-750-kV air circuit breakers (ACB) 12 055
Program to replace 110-220-kV oil circuit breakers (OCB), isolating switches and short circuiting switches (IS and SCS) 25 220
Lightning-surge protection improvement program under investment operations 7 219
Program to procure and construct pre-fabricated buildings for special machinery 1 748
Program to replace 110-750-kV current transformers (CT) at Federal Grid Company’s facilities 4 091
Program to replace 110-750-kV voltage transformers (CT) at Federal Grid Company’s facilities 2 613
Target program for investment operations 800
Program to develop the diagnostic system 402
Modernization and technical upgrading program for electricity transmission lines 48 398
Auto-transformer replacement program 2 581
Fire safety improvement program at the Company’s units 1 141
Emergency reserve development, purchase of equipment, materials, special machinery and gear 4 800
Reserve program 900
TOTAL 355 714

Reliability Improvement Programs at the UNEG Facilities

The decline in electricity consumption during the late 1980s and early 1990s and the resulting underuse of grid transfer capacity, which lasted until 2006-2008, coupled with the physical wear and tear of equipment, contributed to a reduction in the number of large systemic accidents that resulted in electricity supply shortages to consumers. However, the UNEG facilities will face an increasingly larger load as electricity consumption grows and the share of electricity and capacity sales in the wholesale market increases.

To upgrade the reliability of its current grid facilities, the Company has decided to develop and implement the following Reliability Improvement Programs:

  1. Program to replace 330-750-kV air and oil circuit breakers (ACB)
    According to corporate data, 30% of the total number of technological violations at substations is caused by circuit breaker breakdowns. Air and oil circuit breakers are also characterized by long idle periods caused by technical maintenance and repairs (TMR), which forces substations and grids to operate in the weaker repair mode. Gas-insulated circuit breakers, hich the Company plans to install, require maintenance with disconnection only once every 12 years, which improves the reliability of substations and grids, simplifies the repair procedure, contributes to cost reduction and reduces accident risk. Under the Program, the Company will replace 3,802 sets of circuit breakers. The total Program cost is RUR37.28 billion.
  2. OTL lightning-surge protection improvement program
    According to statistics, 30% of the total number of technological violations at overhead transmission lines (OTL) is caused by lightning strikes. Lightning results in damages to isolators, towers and cables, causes ground faults, arc overvoltage and automatic shutdowns. The OTL lightning-surge protection improvement program involves modernizing approximately 2,500 km of overhead lines, installing 18,500 surge protection devices and creating the AIMSSLC (automated information and measurement system of sleet load control) at overhead lines of MES South. The Program will cost RUR7.219 billion.
  3. Programs for replacing the 110-750-kV current and voltage transformers
    Breakdowns of current (CT) and voltage-measuring transformers (VT) are the reason for more than 5% of the total number of technological disruptions at substations. CTs and VTs, with a service life of 30 years and more, fail to ensure the accuracy grade needed for automated information and measuring systems of electricity revenue metering and can also damage substation equipment and result in accidents. The Company plans to replace 2,534 CT sets and 1,867 VT sets. The cost of this Program will be RUR6.7 billion.
  4. Modernization and technical upgrading program for electricity transmission lines
    The share of electricity transmission lines with a service life exceeding 40 years is 29.2%, with the share of lines with a service life of more than 50 years accounting for 8.9% of the total length of Federal Grid Company’s electricity transmission lines. According to corporate data, the 2011-2016 renovation program, as applied to electricity transmission lines, will result in the natural ageing of equipment exceeding comprehensive reconstruction of electricity transmission lines under the renovation program (3.1% of the total length of electricity transmission lines). This highlights the serious need for an additional program to modernize electricity transmission lines. The cost of this program will be RUR48.4 billion.
  5. Autotransformer replacement program
    The goal of this program is to upgrade transformer equipment with a service life of 40 years and above, reduce the number of technological violations related to power transformers, upgrade the reliability of the UNEG equipment, slow down transformer ageing and increase their capacity. The total cost of the program is RUR2.6 billion.
  6. Fire safety improvement program at the Company’s units
    Its aim is to reconstruct and upgrade fire safety tools at the Company’s units. The program will help reduce the number and scale of accidents at the Company’s units, while also reducing the possibility of industrial injury incidents. The total cost of the program is RUR1.14 billion.
  7. Emergency reserve development and the purchase of equipment, materials, special machinery and gear
    The program’s aim is to upgrade and increase the Company’s fleet of special machinery, materials and gear to upgrade the quality and speed of construction and repair work, simplify repair procedures and reduce costs. The total cost of the program is RUR4.8 billion.

Improved Electric Grid Maintenance

Improving electric grid maintenance will improve the UNEG reliability and lower current costs needed to keep principal UNEG elements operable. Measures taken by the Company to improve maintenance include:

  1. Improving service maintenance for equipment,
    which involves comprehensive equipment diagnostics at the service centers of producers, technical maintenance and diagnostics by the Company’s personnel and emergency response activities by the Company’s personnel led by the chief engineers of plants that made the equipment;
  2. Developing an intelligent troubleshooting system
    that enables the Company to monitor equipment under operational voltage and introducing a repair planning system based on integrated results of an intelligent diagnostic system;
  3. Professional training for the Company’s production personnel
    via the creation of Production Training Centers at the Company to train employees in accordance with uni? ed standards, methods and forms, using specialized training infrastructure, such as grid training grounds.

Technical Surveillance of the Company’s Electricity Grid Facilities

Federal Grid Company has a multi-level internal monitoring system (IMS) which oversees organizational, technical, informational, procedural, monitoring and preventative activities at corporate branches and the UNEG units to upgrade equipment’s operating efficiency and personnel training and to reduce the number of emergency incidents and the probability of fire and injury.

To improve IMS reliability, the Company carried out the following measures in 2010:

  • Revising existing normative documents and developing new ones that cover methodological, informational and administrative support for the IMS taking into account structural changes at Federal Grid Company and analyzing results for the IMS currently in place;
  • Changing the approach to evaluating efficiency at the Company’s branches, subsidiaries and dependent companies, based on technical audit results.

In 2010 the Company’s Technical Monitoring and Audit Department ensured technical monitoring and audit inspections across all Federal Grid Company branches. The results formed the basis for planning and implementing measures to remedy drawbacks identified by the inspections, in accordance with deviations from existing requirements.

Electric Grid Equipment Troubleshooting

In October 2009 Federal Grid Company established the Division for Monitoring the Grid Technical Status and Troubleshooting, which formed the foundation for a new working group in troubleshooting system development. The group includes experts in related areas, the heads of branch troubleshooting departments and representatives of the Company’s R&D unit.

Technical troubleshooting of electric grid equipment is regularly performed, as part of specific (targeted) troubleshooting or as automated (online) trouble-shooting.

Regular trouble shooting encompasses tests and measurements in accordance with current regulatory documentation. Throughout 2010 the Company performed the following regular tests and measurements (TM) on its primary high-voltage equipment:

  • Power transformers and auto-transformers: 12,068 TMs;
  • Shunt reactors: 1,027 TMs;
  • High-voltage circuit breakers: 42,096 TMs;
  • Current transformers: 9,021 TMs;
  • Voltage transformers: 4,190 TMs.

Specific (targeted) troubleshooting assesses the technical condition of electric grid equipment not encompassed in regular troubleshooting and specifies the level and nature of defects discovered during regular troubleshooting. It includes the following programs:

  • An electric grid overhead transmission line (OTL) special troubleshooting program based on express troubleshooting techniques.

Inspection results and recommendations help the Company make timely decisions on exact repairs to carry out on tower parts or the comprehensive reconstruction of OTLs based on their actual condition.

In 2010 comprehensive inspections were carried out on 9,931 towers of OTLs. According to inspections, 1,418 towers had defects that affected the reliability of OTL usage.

  • The top-priority special troubleshooting program for the UNEG OTL parts.

In 2010 9,784 towers for OTLs were inspected under auspices of this program. According to these inspections, 2,008 towers had defects that affected the reliability of OTL usage.

  • Comprehensive inspection program for substation grounding

In 2010 comprehensive inspections were carried out at 271 substations.

Reconstruction of the substations’ grounding systems, including repairs, replacement and post-repair measurements and tests, was planned for 2011-2012 based on reports on the technical condition of inspected substations.

  • Special troubleshooting program for deteriorated equipment or units

In 2010 inspections, as part of the special troubleshooting program, were carried out at 6,482 main equipment units and 113 towers of OTLs. Lightning-surge protection troubleshooting was carried out at 97 spans of OTLs.

  • Special troubleshooting program for water obstacle crossings

In October 2009 Federal Grid Company established the Division for Monitoring the Grid Technical Status and Troubleshooting, which formed the foundation for a new working group in troubleshooting system development.

In 2010 63 crossing towers underwent a comprehensive inspection to prevent operational disruptions.According to the inspection, 25 crossing towers had defects that affected the UNEG reliability.

To complete technical troubleshooting of electric units in a quicker and more up-to-date manner, the Company uses automated troubleshooting systems (monitoring systems), firstly for capital-intensive power equipment: power (auto) transformers and shunt reactors. As of 31 December, 2010, the total amount of constantly monitored power equipment consists of 314 units with a total capacity of 43,936 MVA (220 units) and 7,234 MVAR (94 units).

In 2010 the Company carried out troubleshooting on electric grid equipment affected by extremely high air temperatures and wildfires.

To ensure the UNEG’s reliable performance in areas affected by extremely high air temperatures and wildfires in 2010 (MES Center, MES Volga and MES South), the Company carried out ad hoc troubleshooting of its power, communication, measurement and protective equipment, including: comprehensive thermal imagery inspection of electric units at 257 substations; testing transformer oil for high voltage equipment (using chromatographic analysis of oil-solved gases and physical and chemical testing) at 846 equipment units; testing excess voltage suppressors at 10 substations; testing 330-750-kV measuring transformers (271 phases); unscheduled inspections, probes and measurements of OTL units across 51 territories.

Comprehensive inspection of power equipment with manufacturer involvement

To enhance the readiness of capital-intensive power equipment to deal with maintenance loads in 2010 the Company completed comprehensive maintenance of power equipment with manufacturer involvement (Minutes of the Meeting of the Council of General and Chief Designers, Leading Scientists and Academicians of High-Tech Industries of the Russian Prime Minister No. 4 as of 7 December, 2009).

In 2010 Federal Grid Company upgraded and completed equipment at its machinery and troubleshooting complexes.

In 2010 to improve troubleshooting quality, Federal Grid Company provided the following machinery and troubleshooting supplies to production facilities at the Company’s branches – MES/PMES:

  • Equipment for fixed-site laboratories – 380 units;
  • Movable electric power laboratories – 34 units (for testing/measuring substation equipment), equipped with 330 units of machinery and troubleshooting complexes;
  • Movable troubleshooting laboratories with a high-traction box truck – 18 units (for troubleshooting measures at high-voltage electricity transmission lines), equipped with 260 units of machinery and troubleshooting complexes.

In 2011 Federal Grid Company plan to focus troubleshooting efforts in the following areas:

  • Developing a methodological and normative database to apply and use results from troubleshooting automated equipment;
  • Creating and developing an automated system to manage the Company’s troubleshooting activities (Diagnostic Automated Management System – AMS);
  • Utilizing ongoing automated troubleshooting measures for the Company’s electric units capable of automatically transferring results to the Diagnostics AMS;
  • Developing and using modern techniques and tools for the non-destructive testing of the Company’s modern electric grid equipment;
  • Developing a professional training (skills improvement) system for personnel involved in troubleshooting;
  • Organizing ongoing professional training for personnel at service centers and production facilities for manufacturers of high-voltage equipment used at Federal Grid Company units.

Efficient Process Management

The principal goal of Federal Grid Company’s efficient process management is to ful? ll obligations to deliver electric energy to the market by adhering to deliver quality and reliability requirements, and to minimize losses when transmitting electric energy via the UNEG. The Company’s efficient process management is built on a hierarchical approach, with a concise equipment allotment as per eficient implementation levels.

In 2010 the Company successfully achieved the above-mentioned goals and has demonstrated the following results:

  • There were 19 technological violations caused by operational staff errors (compared with 32 violations in 2009 and 16 in 2008);
  • Standard violations caused by higher than allowed voltage levels in the UNEG did not exceed 3, as with 2009 (compared to 9 in 2008 and 71 in 2007);
  • Federal Grid Company’s branch MES Volga developed and implemented a system for optimizing the grid mode by voltage and reactive power based on KOSMOS drive end (DE);
  • the North-West Grid Control Center is running a project to implement a modern PSI Controlbased hardware and software package to complete the entire range of tasks related to the grid’s efficient process management;
  • in accordance with the Efficient Process Management Concept approved in 2010, the Grid-Control Center of Kuzbasskoye PMES took over operational management functions;
  • the Company and System Operator approved a shared basis of managing switchovers at new generation substations.

With involvement of efficient process management departments, Federal Grid Company designs and commissions new generation substations (at the end of 2010, they accounted for 8% of the Company’s total number of substations), where modern automated systems of equipment control are being implemented. With these systems in place, operational maintenance of substations can become a duty of grid control centers. The switchover to substations with operational staff on site permanently on duty will help reduce maintenance expenses, reduce the time needed to eliminate technological violations, and simultaneously analyze the situation both on the site and in the grid linked to the substation.

Special Period Results

As a rule, the autumn-winter period results in the maximum capacity load for Russia’s electric energy system, and harsh weather conditions during the freshet period, fire-hazard period and storm period increase the risk of damage to grid units. As a result, Federal Grid Company pays particular attention to electricity transmission during special periods.

In some Russian regions, the 2010 freshet period resulted in precipitation levels significantly above normal and the danger of snow melt negatively impacted the UNEG grid units. During the 2010 spring freshet period, employees of the Company’s regional branches carried out all planned measures to ensure reliable performance. Substations’ equipment, overhead transmission lines, buildings and facilities were in good working condition following the freshet.

All measures to prepare the UNEG grid units for storm and fire-hazard periods were carried out in full by the Company’s employees. No breakdowns in electricity transmission line elements or substation equipment were reported due to storm-related excess voltage. Compared to the previous year, there were 99 additional cases of shutdowns due to storm-related excess voltage. The increase was reported across grid units of MES East, MES West Siberia, MES Center and MES North-West. Compared to the previous year, there was no increase in the number of emergency equipment shutdowns at the Company’s substations. To reduce the volume of storm-related shutdowns, the Company developed and approved a three-year lightning-surge protection improvement program for overhead transmission lines.

As a result of ongoing dry weather and extremely high air temperatures in numerous Russian regions during the summer of 2010, the Russian President signed off on a state of emergency decree for the Republic of Mari El, the Republic of Mordovia and the Vladimir, Voronezh, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod and Ryazan Regions. Federal Grid Company rolled out additional measures to upgrade fire safety levels across territories where the state of emergency was announced – in particular, those within the scope of responsibility for MES Center and MES Volga.

During the period of extremely high air temperatures, the Company carried out significant additional activities to ensure the UNEG reliability and to avoid major damage to overhead transmission lines. Tower parts, cables, isolators and line accessories were in good working condition. However, despite measures taken, the impact of extremely high temperatures damaged equipment at several substations.

Following forest fires that affected overhead transmission line routes, the Company’s employees removed burnt trees from the routes and checked the condition of transmission line elements. This minimized consequences of the wildfires for substation and transmission line equipment.

Preparation of the Company’s branches for the 2010-2011 autumn-winter period involved preliminary examinations of the branches’ readiness and respective measures to eliminate identified drawbacks. By Novem ber 2010, all corporate branches received a passport of readiness for the 2010-2011 autumn-winter season.

On 16-19 November, 2010, a commission of the Russian Ministry of Energy, acting in conjunction with Federal Grid Company personnel and the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological, and Nuclear Oversight (Rostekhzadzor), inspected Federal Grid Company’s readiness for the 2010-2011 autumn-winter season. On 19 November, 2010, the inspection was deemed successful and Federal Grid Company received passport readiness no. 1 for the autumn-winter season.