S&C Electric Co. has announced the design and completion of an S&C High-Speed Fault-Clearing System at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) in Portales, New Mexico, as part of the university’s plan to improve power reliability and reduce outages. S&C worked with TME, Inc. Consulting Engineers—Energy Services to develop a solution using S&C’s 15-kV Remote Supervisory Vista Underground Distribution Switchgear and advanced relays that detects and isolates underground distribution faults within a fraction of a second.

Prior to the project, ENMU’s 30-year-old, 4160-V distribution system experienced numerous prolonged outages resulting in the partial or full closure of the campus. As a result, the university replaced more than 3,750 feet of 5 kV underground electrical cable with new 15 kV cable. They also decided to utilize smart grid technology to improve its power system, ensuring better reliability throughout the campus’ education, dormitory, and recreational facilities in the event of a fault.

“We wanted to make a forward-thinking investment in ENMU’s infrastructure, and decided not only to replace the underground cables, but to implement a distribution system for the 21st century,” says Ted Fares, director, Physical Plant, ENMU. “Instead of hours or days without power, our facilities now experience, at most, a few seconds of an outage before the system heals itself and brings power on again.”

TME, Inc., in collaboration with S&C, engineered a looped distribution system that leverages two separate sources feeding the campus. Within the loops, nine pieces of S&C’s Vista switchgear and two units of System VI™ Switchgear communicate with each other to detect faults on the underground distribution system. In most cases, if a fault is detected, the switchgear isolates the fault and reroutes power within a fraction of a second to keep EMNU’s facilities running. S&C also engineered and integrated a tool that allows ENMU’s facility personnel to view the status of the system in real time and control it when necessary.

“With the self-healing system, the outages that would be caused by a fault on the main feeder would be so short that they could go unnoticed. ENMU’s facilities group wanted a way to monitor the status of the feeders in real time,” says Wanda Reder, vice president, U.S. Power Systems Solutions, S&C. “We worked with ENMU to implement a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) interface that gathers information from the High-Speed Fault-Clearing System, and very simply and visually shows ENMU’s staff if there are any feeders that have had a fault and need to be repaired.”

S&C was responsible for the engineering, testing and commissioning of the entire High-Speed Fault-Clearing System. The project was completed in the first half of 2013, and the system is currently providing reliable power to ENMU’s students, faculty and visitors.