For decades, electrical engineers have turned to the IEEE Color Books to find practical, workable solutions to their questions on the design, installation, maintenance, and operation of industrial, commercial, and institutional electrical power systems. The 13 books are a collection of carefully screened recommendations that represent the best practices for analyzing, planning, calculating, coordinating, protecting and assuring the safety of the power system elements.

The pace of technology innovation has made the task of keeping the books up to date a challenge. Although the books are focused on relatively general topics, they still contain a wealth of information, some of it current and some worthy of revision. Over the past decade, the publishing world has also evolved toward an online model, which is both less expensive than printed books and makes information much more accessible to users.

IEEE’s makeover will reorganize today’s 13 Color Books into approximately 55 smaller documents that cover specific technical topics. Each document will eventually become a “dot” standard. This new approach will enable power systems engineers to select exactly the information they require and be confident in the fact that it conforms to current best practices, is technically correct, and reflects the latest technologies.

From the IEEE’s perspective, the revision project will create a more manageable and generally “user-friendly” set of standards that can be revised, edited and balloted more quickly. The project will also afford the working groups that create the new standards an opportunity to eliminate duplicate material that has found its way into the Color Books over time.

Eight working groups will participate in the project, including one that will develop an introductory book that will address, in a general way, all of the topics covered by the individual “dot” standards. The introduction will also provide references to the specific technical and functional areas covered by each “dot” standard. The other seven working groups will develop or revise the dot standards.

Creating the new resource will require the efforts of many engineers in numerous disciplines. Experts will be needed to provide and share in-depth information gained from many years of experience. But many younger engineers will see a valuable opportunity in working with experts and in helping forge the standards that will define the industry over the next few decades.

For readers not familiar with the Color Books, they are organized into two general schemas. Some deal with specific facilities such as commercial buildings (Red Book), industrial plants (Gray Book) or heath care facilities (White Book). Other Color Books cover specific technical topics such as grounding (Green Book), powering and grounding sensitive loads (Emerald Book), emergency and standby power systems (Orange Book), protection and coordination (Buff Book), power systems analysis (Brown and Violet Books), and reliability (Gold Book). The Yellow Book covers maintenance, operation, and safety of industrial and commercial power systems.

The IEEE Color Books revision will cover in-building or in-plant electrical distribution systems in detail. Some of the larger industrial facilities take and distribute power at higher than distribution voltages. These facilities may also have on-site generation. For both reasons, there are parallels between a large industrial electrical system and a small utility distribution system, so certain “dot” standards will also be useful for those who generate, transmit, and distribute electricity to end users and manufacturing facilities. For example one of the “dot” standards specifically covers relaying (protection of) the utility-to-industrial interface.

The revised Color Books, released over time in “dot” standard sections, will begin to be published in early 2011. For any volunteers wishing to participate, please contact: Patricia A. Gerdon at: p.gerdon@ieee.org.

About Carey J. Cook (SM) — IEEE Sponsor Chairman; Technical Books Coordinating Committee Carey received a BSEE degree from Tri-State University, Angola, Indiana in 1977, and a Masters of Engineering Management degree from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL in 2000. He has been with S&C Electric Company, Chicago, IL for 33 years, and is now a Senior Strategic Marketing Manager in the Strategic Marketing Group. Cook has extensive expertise in the selection and application of all types of medium- and high-voltage power fuses. He has authored a number of fuse selection guides, application guides, and technical papers covering all aspects of overcurrent protection and coordination. Cook is Chairman of the Technical Books Coordination Committee in the Industrial and Commercial Power Systems Department of the Industry Application Society.