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  • By : Laarni S. Ilagan
  • May 01, 2024

BENECO as trailblazing EC

The Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) is embarking on a new feature in its distribution system in what appears to be the first among electric cooperatives in the country.

Through what is called as “fault locator technology,” BENECO will be able to detect any abnormality in the distribution system, including those faults that have the potential of becoming full blown faults that could cause power interruption.

Considered a first in the country, the technology will surely improve the electric cooperative’s ability to act with dispatch to prevent faults, Mario Calatan, a special equipment and metering engineer, said.

Calatan, who heads the special equipment and metering office of the network services department, said the new technology is an enhancement of BENECO’s highly benchmarked Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA).

While other electric cooperatives have yet to acquire their own SCADA, BENECO is now ready to up the ante of its SCADA, thanks to a European supplier who vouched that the fault locator in BENECO is the first in the country.

A “fault” is an abnormality in the distribution system that eventually causes a line to fluctuate whether temporary or permanent that could cause a full blown power interruption.

“The Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) offered such a rare technology which triangulates fault locations. This means the system can pinpoint exactly where the fault lies within a 10 meter radius. It also has the ability to detect grass and forest fires that threaten the distribution lines,“ Calatan said.

For this pilot project, BENECO chose three different areas in BENECO’s distribution system where power interruption often happened in the past. If the equipment works, additional units will be purchased to be installed in all the other feeders and circuits.

BENECO was chosen as the first pilot area (distribution utility) because its distribution system is technologically ready, thanks to the Department of Energy that certified BENECO being a level 2 smart distribution utility.

Having reached that stage, BENECO will be among the distribution utilities that are ready to move towards a more efficient system to address power outages and disturbances by installing remote voltage regulators and capacitor banks and partially integrating distribution management system (DMS), outage management system (OMS), and mobile workforce management system (MWMS).

In the meantime, the technical department is exerting effort to also to attain level 3 to be able to finish its “Fault Location, Isolation, and Service Restoration” (FLISR) system to enable BENECO to locate faults in its system, reduce the impact and duration of power interruptions by isolating affected area/s and automation of its power restoration.

The fault locator is part of the FLISR which the electric cooperative started way back in 2022. At that time, BENECO was able to install load break switches and reclosers which were eventually tied up with SCADA, Ramel Rifani, network services department (NSD) manager, said.

A parallel development on real time updating of accomplishments on job orders is also being developed to complement the FLISR. The NSD’s special equipment and metering office is currently collaborating with the management information and communications office on an application that would enable linemen to report their accomplishments and progress of their tasks.

The said application, to be installed in tablets given to linemen, will improve their productivity and reduce human error. On test are 10 tablets.

BENECO was the first among the 121 electric cooperatives in the country to venture into automated distribution system when it went online with its Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) in 2007.