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"The main task is to ensure the stable operation of the power system"

Vitaly Sungurov, General Director of the branch of SO UES JSC, ODU East, on ensuring the sustainable operation of the energy system in any conditions

The system operator of the Unified Energy System (SO UES JSC) is a specialized organization that solely carries out centralized operational dispatch control in the UES of Russia. The company's specialists solve many complex and important tasks: forecasting the consumption of electricity and power, planning the electric power regime, round-the-clock management of power facilities, participation in the future development of the power system. Vitaly Sungurov, General Director of the Branch of SO UES JSC "United Dispatching Office of the East Energy System" (ODE East), spoke about ensuring the sustainable functioning of the power system in any conditions EastRussia.

"The main task is to ensure the stable operation of the power system"

- Vitaly Leonidovich, last year you already talked about the historical events in Yakutia - the accession of most of the region's energy system to the United Energy System of the East. This year the Republic of Sakha was again featured in news feeds. Please tell us what is the reason for this now?

- News of 2020 directly stems from last year's events, when the Central and Western energy districts of the Sakha Republic power system were connected to the Unified Energy System of the country. The Yakutsk energy system includes the Western, Central, and South Yakutsk energy regions, as well as a zone of decentralized energy supply. The Western and Central energy regions, covering the territory of 19 uluses, districts and municipal districts of Yakutia with the administrative center of the republic in the city of Yakutsk, became part of the UES of Russia with the inclusion of parallel operation with the UES of the East in January 2019. The management of the electric power regime of the power districts was taken over by the Yakutsk Regional Dispatch Administration Branch of SO UES JSC, created for this purpose. Previously, the power districts operated in isolation from each other and from the IES of the East, and the functions of operational dispatch control of power facilities on their territory were performed by PJSC Yakutskenergo.

At the same time, the South Yakutsk energy region, located on the territory of the Neryungri and Aldan regions of Yakutia, is the only one of the Yakut energy regions that has been part of the IES East since 1980; since 2007, it has been managed by the Amur RDU Branch of the System Operator.

Thus, in 2019, two of the three power districts of the Sakha Republic operating in parallel were controlled from the dispatch center of the System Operator in Yakutsk, and one from Blagoveshchensk. There was nothing critical for the reliable operation of the IES of the East in this state of affairs, but the transfer of all power regions of Yakutia "under the wing" of one RDU - Yakutsk - was a logical step towards optimizing the structure of operational dispatch control in the region. On September 1, 2020, we did this: the Yakutsk Regional Dispatch Office took over from the Amur Regional Dispatching Office the functions of operational dispatch control of the electric power regime of the South Yakutsk energy district of the Yakutsk energy system. From that moment on, the operation of the entire power system of the Sakha Republic began to be controlled from the dispatch center of the System Operator in the city of Yakutsk.

- How long did it take to prepare for this event?

- We can say that preparations for the expansion of the operational zone of the Yakutsk Regional Dispatch Administration began almost immediately after it took over the management functions of the Central and Western Energy Regions. The training was carried out with the gradual adoption of the functions of information management, dispatch management and, at the final stage, the functions of operational dispatch management in the territory of the South Yakutsk energy region in full. The system operator carried out a set of organizational and technical measures, providing for the preparation of the infrastructure of the dispatch center for the expansion of the operating zone, updating the instructional and technological documentation, additional training and state certification of personnel. Close interaction was established between the personnel of the Yakutsk Regional Dispatch Administration and the subjects of the electric power industry and consumers of electrical energy in the receiving area, and also ensured the transfer of dispatcher communication channels and telemetric information channels directly from the facilities to the dispatch center. The readiness of the Yakutsk Regional Dispatch Office to accept the functions of managing the electric power regime for the entire power system of the Republic of Sakha was checked and confirmed in August this year by a specially created commission of the System Operator.

- What does this give the consumer of electrical energy?

- At first glance, the event that took place relates to the “internal kitchen” of the company. But this is only for the first time, since in energy, as in a single organism, everything is interconnected. The management of the electric power regime of the regional power system from one dispatch center allows to optimize all the main business processes of the System Operator for the control of the electric power regime of the power system. First of all, these are the processes associated with the formation of actual and forecast balances of electricity and power and the formation of tasks for setting up emergency automation, planning a repair campaign for electric power entities, preventing and eliminating accidents in the power system - all this is most directly related to stable functioning as a power system in in general, and individual subjects of the electric power industry and electricity consumers. 

Also, SO UES JSC interacts with regional executive authorities, including on issues of ensuring the future development of the electric power industry in the region, with the regional headquarters for ensuring the safety of power supply, with the Ministry of Emergencies of Russia and Rostekhnadzor. Bringing the operational zone of the Yakutsk Regional Dispatch Administration to the borders of the territory of the Republic of Sakha immediately increases the efficiency of interaction, since the logic of organizing operational dispatch control of the power system now corresponds to the logic of organizing state and municipal administration and ensuring the security of the region.

- Since March, the number one topic for the media has been the COVID-19 pandemic. How did it affect the work of the ODE of the East?

- The system operator is a federal company, so there was no particular difference in the measures taken in the Far East or, for example, in the Urals or in the north-west of the country. Immediately after the announcement of the pandemic and the first steps of the Russian authorities to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the System Operator transferred the vast majority of its employees to a remote mode, fully preserving all business processes, and hence the level of controllability and reliability of the Unified Energy System.

In our company, it is impossible to transfer absolutely all employees to remote mode. In the workplace, there were those whose direct presence in dispatch centers is an important condition for the continuity of the power system management process. These are, first of all, dispatchers working in shifts and operational specialists for IT and engineering infrastructure maintenance, a number of other categories of employees who cannot perform their duties remotely. The number of personnel in the dispatch center of the ODU East and regional dispatch offices was brought to the minimum allowable to ensure the sustainable functioning of the IES East.

In the dispatch centers themselves, a set of anti-epidemic measures was introduced: thermometry, mask mode, disinfection of air and contact surfaces, sanitizers, seating of personnel in separate rooms, timed meals at lunchtime, provision of transport conditions so that shift personnel do not use public transport ... Visitor access, which is normally limited due to the regime status of our facilities, has become even stricter, but now for anti-epidemic reasons.

In July-August, when the epidemic began to decline, we began very gradually and with the preservation of precautionary measures to return people to the offices, but with the arrival of the so-called second wave, we again returned most of the staff to remote work.

- Did the measures introduced have any effect on the management of the power system modes?

- Operational dispatch control of the electrical modes of the UPS of the East, planning functions, implementation of dispatch requests, planning of repairs were carried out by our branches in full and in a regular mode. There were no failures in the management of the power system.

- How did you manage to transfer an organization with such complex functionality to "remote" in a short time?

- We were helped by the fact that the System Operator is one of the most high-tech companies in the Russian fuel and energy complex. We had the necessary IT resources, pre-tested technologies, scalable solutions for organizing teleworking, and, of course, highly qualified specialists. All this made it possible in a short time to ensure a massive transition to "remote control" while maintaining the performance of all departments and in compliance with information security requirements.

In our opinion, the pandemic clearly demonstrated that there is no alternative to accelerated digital transformation. Yes, the improvement of management tools, the development of IT infrastructure, the introduction of digital technologies and modern equipment require significant efforts, but only they can ensure a high technical level of readiness for stable operation in almost the most unfavorable scenario.

- Has the pandemic affected energy consumption?

- In the country as a whole, the reaction from consumers was expected - the System Operator recorded a significant decrease in electricity consumption against the background of restrictive measures that directly affected the economy. However, specific numbers varied across regions. Consumption fell most of all - up to 10% - in the United Energy System of the Middle Volga and the energy system of the Moscow region. And the pandemic had the least impact here, in the Far East. We can say that in the IES of the East, only the growth rates of consumption decreased, while consumption itself continued to grow. For example, the largest industrial consumers in the region - enterprises of Transneft and Russian Railways - in the second quarter, when the most severe restrictive measures were in force, according to operational data, increased their electricity consumption by 32,6% and 5,4%, respectively. And on July 17 and 30, new summer historical maximums of power consumption were even established in the power systems of the Amur Region and the Khabarovsk Territory and the Jewish Autonomous Region.

At the same time, in August, for the first time in a long time, a decrease in electricity consumption was noted in the IES of the East - by 1,5% compared to the same period in 2019. However, already in September, consumption exceeded the indicator of September last year by 0,5%. In general, according to the results of the three quarters of 2020, the consumption of electric energy in the IES of the East increased by 2,3%, and the growth is observed in all regional energy systems, and industrial and transport enterprises played an important role here.

At the same time, it should be said that since the beginning of October, tendencies for a further reduction in the increase in electricity consumption have become noticeable.

- How is the development of the IES East going in this difficult year?

- Quite recently, a long-awaited event for the Khabarovsk Territory took place - PJSC RusHydro put into commercial operation a new CHP in the town of Sovetskaya Gavan. This station will replace the outdated, worn out and uneconomical Mayskaya GRES, providing conditions for the further development of the Soviet-Gavanskoye industrial and transport hub.

The ODE of the East and the Khabarovsk Regional Dispatch Office also contributed to this great work. The specialists of these branches participated in the preparation and approval of technical specifications for the design, consideration and approval of design documentation, approval of technical conditions for technological connection of power facilities to power grids and verification of their implementation, in the development of comprehensive voltage testing programs and putting equipment into operation. 

And this is not a formal agreement, but a thorough check of the compliance of new equipment with technological requirements for its reliable operation as part of the power system. Such coordination guarantees that the commissioned power facility and its individual components will not violate the reliability and efficiency of the IES East. In addition, specialists of the System Operator's branches performed calculations of electric power modes in the power system and short-circuit currents in the network, determined new settings for relay protection and automation devices installed at power facilities, tested telemetric systems for collecting and transmitting information to dispatch centers. This is already work on "adjusting" the power system to new conditions - to the fact that a new large source of generation will appear in it.

After the commissioning of the Sovgavanskaya CHPP this year and last year the second stage of the 220 kV transmission line Komsomolskaya - Selekhino - Vanino, it can now be stated that the serious risks of power supply disruption to the consumers of the Soviet-Gavanskaya node that have existed for many years have been reduced to almost zero.

The continuing digitalization of the Far Eastern energy sector should also be noted. For several years now, the system operator has been gradually introducing an automated switching production system in all of its branches, which makes it possible to organize automated remote control of the equipment of electric power facilities. Together with Rosseti FGC UES, all new projects of automated remote control of power grid facilities are being successfully implemented.

- What objects are we talking about?

- One of the recent examples is the 220 kV Aeroport substation in the Primorsky Territory. This is the main food center of the Vladivostok air hub. The dispatchers of the Primorsky Regional Dispatch Administration got the possibility of automated remote control of the switching devices of the 220 kV substation, which made it possible to increase the reliability and quality of control of the electric power mode of the power system of the Primorsky Territory by reducing the time for making operational switches, reducing the risk of erroneous actions of dispatching and operating personnel, increasing the speed of implementing changes in the topology of the electrical network. There are already more than ten such facilities in the IES East, and in the future there will be much more.

- In other words, has the pandemic not become an obstacle to development? 

- Of course, it slows down some processes. However, in general, the plans outlined by the energy companies are being implemented; new facilities are being built and commissioned: power stations, substations, lines, automation and communications are being improved. The specificity of the energy sector is that without it, neither the functioning of the economy, much less development is possible. This means that we have a lot of work to do. And we will fulfill it in any conditions, because the main task of the System Operator is to ensure the stable functioning of the power system.


The branch of JSC "SO UES" "United dispatching management of the power system of the East" controls the modes of four power systems of the UES of the East, located on the territory of five constituent entities of the Russian Federation: the Amur region, the Primorsky and Khabarovsk territories, the Jewish Autonomous Region, and the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).

The operational zone of the ODE East covers the constituent entities of the Federation with an area of ​​4457,4 thousand square meters. km, in cities and towns located on this territory, 5,164 million people live. The united energy system of the East is formed by 27 power plants, electrical substations of 110-500 kV voltage class with a total capacity of 38,8 thousand MVA and 110-500 kV power transmission lines with a total length of 33 081 km. The total installed capacity of power plants of IES East, as of October 1, 2020, is 11 114 MW.

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