A comprehensive electric power grid test bed recently completed at U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) provides a facility for federal and private industry researchers to develop and demonstrate technologies that improve security and enhance resiliency.

Rated up to 138 kV, the system includes up to 32 miles of reconfigurable distribution line, 16 miles of transmission line, full fiber-optic communications and transformers capable of supporting demonstrations at 15 kV, 25 kV and 35 kV. Four 2,500 ft2 research pads house equipment for conducting power load testing, smart grid assessments and energy storage experiments. The entire system is operated from a new, on-site command center featuring up-to-date control systems and real-time power management equipment that allow sections of the test grid to be isolated for specific high-risk demonstrations.

A decade in the making, the INL power grid test bed has been used to validate and demonstrate the effects of threats such as geomagnetic disturbances. Plans call for using the test grid to validate select protective relay security methodologies and evaluate the effects certain classes of cyber intrusions could exert on critical grid operations.

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