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AbstractSince 1982 when Ralph Lee provided what many

consider the first research available on arc flash hazards in his

landmark paper, The Other Electrical Hazard: Electric Arc Blast
Burns, there has been growing concern about arc flash hazards in
and around electrical systems. Serious study following the
publication of Lees paper further quantified the hazard and
provided a basis for calculating specific risks in specific systems.
IEEE Standard 1584 was one result of this research. Additional
standards, regulations, and published papers have followed
making most electrical workers aware of the hazard. But, today
the different standards and regulations have also caused
confusion. What standard or regulation applies when and to
whom? Why do different analyses provide such wide-ranging
results? And once you know the hazard you face, what options do
you have?
Index TermsArc Flash, Arc Flash Hazard Mitigation, PPE
(Personal Protective Equipment), Relays, Standards.
Clearing Time (or Fault Clearing Time): The duration from
fault inception to fault extinguishment.
Commercial Electrical System: An electrical system
operated for the purpose of powering commercial facilities,
such as an office building.
Commercial Sector: Relating to Commercial Electrical
Industrial Electrical System: An electrical system operated
for the purpose of powering an industrial plant, such as an oil
Industrial Sector: Relating to Industrial Electrical Systems.
Utility Electrical System An electrical system operated by a
power utility, public or private, to provide electrical service to
its customers.
Utility Sector: Relating to Utility Electrical Systems.
Almost everyone is aware that electrical shock can be
hazardous to life, although the minor shocks that many have
experienced with no dire consequences tend to make them
ignore this fact. There is another hazard which few
appreciatethe case where contact is not necessary to incur
injury. This is the radiation burn from the fierce fire of
electrical arcs, due to a short circuit that develops from poor
electrical contact or failure of insulation. Next to the laser, the
electric arc between metals is the hottest thing on earth, or
about four times as hot as the suns surface.

With these words in 1982, Ralph Lee changed our view of
electrical hazards in the workplace. His seminal paper brought
attention to arc flash hazards for the first time. Since then
extensive research has taken place to help us understand this
hazard much better. We now acknowledge the majority of
hospital admissions due to electrical accidents are from arc-
flash burns, not from shocks.
It is not the intent of this paper to provide in-depth arc flash
analysis review. That has been done in a number of other
papers in the past few years. In addition, it is not the intent of
this paper to provide great detail on the mitigation options
included. Those too are collectively discussed elsewhere.
Instead, this paper will: Provide a historical perspective to how
we got to where we are today. Address the different standards
and regulations to be considered with special emphasis on
what applies when and to whom. Discuss the mitigation
options available to the protection engineer. And then
conclude with a couple simple application examples.
Once Ralph Lees paper was published in 1982, operators of
industrial and commercial electrical systems seemed to
acknowledge this real hazard before those operating utility
electrical systems. The authors would suggest this is partly due
to the third-party scrutiny (e.g., local electrical inspectors) they
experience, whereas utilities are often exempt, and partly a
result that their electrical systems are typically not their
primary focus so they maintain a greater appreciation for
electrical hazards in general. In recognizing arc flash hazards
earlier, engineers designing and maintaining these electrical
systems worked to better understand the nature of the hazard.
In Staged Tests Increase Awareness of Arc Flash Hazards
in Electrical Equipment the authors state: The cause and
prevention of electrical arcs have been explored since the early
1960s. A reference review does show a number of papers
written before 1982 on the subject of arc flash, but it appears
most of the focus was protecting equipment. By the mid-
nineties the focus had become protecting people.
Anecdotally, one author worked in the Oil and Gas business
early in his career. He attended the IEEE Petroleum and
Chemical Industry Conference in 1990. The Wednesday
electrical safety general session that year had no mention of
arc flash hazards in any of the three papers presented. He did
not attend this conference again until 1995. The Wednesday
electrical safety general session that year and the next three
years (the last conference he attended before leaving that
industry) each included papers addressing some aspect of arc
Arc Flash Hazard Regulation and Mitigation
Jay Sperl, ABB Inc., Clint Whitney, City of Richland, Andrew Milner, Iberdrola Renewables
417 978-1-4244-4183-9/09/$25.00 2009 IEEE
flash hazards. He had been in the business for seven years at
that pointworking on industrial electrical systemsand
remembers suddenly becoming aware of this new hazard, and
realizing how often he had been exposed to the hazard without
proper understanding or protection.
With all the work that took place in the mid-nineties, it still
seems those responsible for utility electrical systems (for
which most reading this are assumed to be included or
associated) were slow to recognize this hazard. Today it seems
everywhere we look in our business there is a reminder of the
issue. Arc Flash standards. Arc Flash regulation. Arc Flash
analysis. Arc Flash analysis software. Arc Flash consultants.
Arc Flash PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Arc Flash
relays and relay schemes. Why? What has changed?
First, for the same reasons those in the industrial and
commercial sector of our business were quicker to recognize
the hazard, those in the utility sector were not. Less third-party
scrutiny. A precedence of exemption from national standards
and regulations. And a greater comfort level given electrical
systems were their main focus. But in time the utility
environment changed.
A number of factors contributed to this change and the
increased emphasis we know today.
A. Increased electrification, more exposure
Consumers, both small and large continue to increase use of
electricity. For individuals, it is driven by larger homesmost
with air conditioning and modern electronics. For large energy
consumers, industrial and commercial, there has been a
continuous trend towards electrification for decades. As just
one example, only twenty years ago, it was a common practice
in industrial plants to have steam turbines as back up for
electrical motors. Today, two redundant electrical motors is
much more common. All said, the increased electrification
requires utilities to extend their systems and this extension
brings more exposure to more people.
B. Less forgiving production needs, more hot work
With a greater reliance on electricity, no alternatively-
powered backups in place, and continued pursuit of greater
productivity; electrical system operators are much less able to
plan outages. Simply put there is less reserve in our production
systems. This encourages more work be done while equipment
remains energized. This increases risk for arc flash incidents.
C. General concern about hazards in the workplace
Safety in the workplace is now of the utmost concern for
most businesses. This concern is underscored by our overly
litigious society where the risk of being sued has never been
greater. Accidents no longer happen. Someone is always at
fault, even when nothing nefarious has taken place and all
applicable rules have been followed. Given the concerns of
litigation, and a general trend towards avoiding risk
including bad pressat all costs, companies are willing to
spend more money and effort to understand and mitigate
workplace risks.
D. Manufacturers started producing arc-resistant switchgear
As a result of the better understanding that resulted from arc
flash research, manufacturers started looking at options to
mitigate arc flash hazards. As with any new effort, it took time
to move from concern to design to prototype to production to
adoption. Those in the industrial and commercial sectors were
first adopters. With new products now available, utility
engineers had options they never had before. Justification for
the new products, at a cost premium, required
acknowledgement of an existing problem.
E. Ease of video sharing
The authors would also opine that video sharing has
increased our awareness. Who has not seen an arc flash
incident via an emailed video? This creates a new awareness
of the hazard that the printed word cannot.
F. Standards and Regulations catching up with knowledge
Finally, the standards and regulations process takes time.
The developers of standards and regulations are those in the
business, so until they are convinced of a problem, the
problem is not going to get included in standards and
regulations. Once there is agreement on new provisions, the
update cycle for a standard or regulation can be as long as 5
A. IEEE 1584
IEEE 1584 is the Guide to Performing Arc Flash
Calculations. This standard resulted from the research that
took place, primarily in the industrial sector, during the 1990s.
The standard established a nine-step process for calculating
arc flash hazards:
1. Collect electrical system data.
2. Determine modes of operation.
3. Determine bolted fault currents.
4. Determine arc fault currents.
5. Determine protective device characteristics and
durations of arcs.
6. Document voltages and equipment classes.
7. Establish working distances.
8. Determine incident energies.
9. Determine Flash Protection Boundary.
However, the standards scope is limited to voltages from
208V to 15kV, and it provides different calculations
depending on your hazard characteristics (e.g., arc in a box or
arc in open air). Understanding the electrical system and using
the correct basis for any calculation is critical for addressing
the hazard appropriately.
NFPA 70E is the Standard for Electrical Safety in the
Workplace. The latest version is 2009. In the previous version,
2004, this standard adopted the IEEE 1584-2002 methods for
determining incident energy. It is used to determine the
appropriate PPE based on the calculated incident energy.
Section 110.8 (B)(1)(b) requires an arc flash hazard analysis
to determine the Arc Flash Protection Boundary and the
personal protective equipment that people within the Arc Flash
Protection Boundary shall use. The standard also allows use
of Table 130.7(C)(9) to determine PPE requirements instead
of completing a detailed flash hazard analysis. This table
provides risk categories for different tasks at different voltage
But the scope of this standard is limited and the standard
often misapplied.
(A) Covered. This standard addresses those electrical
safety requirements for employee workplaces that are
necessary for the practical safeguarding of employees during
activities such as the installation, operation, maintenance, and
demolition of electric conductors, electric equipment,
signaling and communications conductors and equipment, and
raceways for the following:
(1) Public and private premises, including buildings,
structures, mobile homes, recreational vehicles, and floating
(2) Yards, lots, parking lots, carnivals, and industrial
(3) Installations of conductors and equipment that
connect to the supply of electricity
(4) Installations used by the electric utility, such as office
buildings, warehouses, garages, machine shops, and
recreational buildings, that are not an integral part of a
generating plant, substation, or control center [emphasis
So, a utilitys electrical facilities of most concern with
regard to arc flash hazardsgenerating plants, substations,
and control centersare expressly excluded from the scope of
this standard. The scope is specific for industrial and
commercial facilities, and arc flash analysis references to this
standard with regard to utility practices are in error.
That said, the standard includes a number of useful
annexesnoted as not part of the standards requirements, but
included for informational purposes only. Annexes C, D, H, K,
and M, in particular, are good sources of information and help
with regard to arc flash hazard considerations.
NESC is the National Electric Safety Code. The NESC
covers utility facilities and functions up to the service point.
The 2007 version includes a January 1, 2009 deadline
requiring utilities to assess their systems arc flash hazard
potential and protect their employees as appropriate.
However, individual states may adopt only parts of the
NESC, may delay adoption of the newest edition, and may
have exemptions for certain types of utilities. For example, the
state of WA only adopts parts 1-3 of the NESC (the January 1,
2009 deadline is in part 4), does not automatically adopt the
newest edition and as of October 2007 still recognized the
2002 version rather than the newest 2007 version, and leaves
60 publically-owned utilities to be governed by their own
boards or committees.
Recently the IEEE undertook a survey of all Public Service
Commissions (or similar state regulatory bodies) to understand
the adoption of the NESC by state. The results can be found at:
In addition to differences by state, there are exceptions to
NESC Rule 410A3:
If the clothing required by this rule has the potential to
create additional and greater hazards than the possible
exposure to heat energy of the electric arc, then
clothing with an arc rating or arc thermal performance
value (ATPV) less than that required by the rule can be
For secondary systems below 1000 V, applicable work
rules required by this part and engineering controls
shall be utilized to limit exposure. In lieu of performing
an arc hazard analysis, clothing or a clothing system
with a minimum effective arc rating of 4 cal/cm
be required to limit the likelihood of ignition.
Tables 410-1 and 410-2 provide the PPE requirement based
on maximum fault clearing time at different voltage and
current levels.
In short, not all utilities have a January 1, 2009 arc flash
mandate. Instead, each utility must judge if the NESCs
deadline applies to them. Once that is understood, each utility
must then decide if any exemptions apply and what actions are
ultimately required.
NEC is the National Electric Code. Its focus is electrical
design, construction, installation, and inspection.
Section 110.16 reads:
"Flash Protection. Electrical equipment such as
switchboards, panelboards, industrial control panels, meter
socket enclosures, and motor control centers in other than
dwelling occupancies, which are likely to require examination,
adjustment, servicing, or maintenance while energized, shall
be field marked to warn qualified persons of potential electric
arc flash hazards. [emphasis added] The marking shall be
located so as to be clearly visible to qualified persons before
examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance of the
equipment." This labeling requirement applies to all electrical
equipment installed or modified after 2002.
OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration)
enforces workplace safety regulations in the United States.
With respect to arc flash hazards at utilities, OSHA 29 CFR
1910.269 and 1910 Subpart S apply. Subpart S (1910.333)
states that Safety related work practices shall be employed to
prevent electric shock or other injuries resulting from either
direct or indirect [emphasis added] electrical contacts
However, OSHA does not provide information on how to
perform work safely, just requires that it be done.
OSHA 1910.269 Appendix F Table 7 provides five
Methods of Calculating Incident Heat Energy From an
Electric Arc:
1. Standard for Electrical Safety Requirements for
Employee Workplaces, NFPA 70E-2004, Annex D,
``Sample Calculation of Flash Protection Boundary.''
2. Doughty, T.E., Neal, T.E., and Floyd II, H.L.,
``Predicting Incident Energy to Better Manage the
Electric Arc Hazard on 600 V Power Distribution
Systems,'' Record of Conference Papers IEEE IAS 45th
Annual Petroleum and Chemical Industry Conference,
September 28-30, 1998.
3. Guide for Performing Arc Flash Hazard Calculations,
IEEE 1584-2002.
4. Heat Flux Calculator, a free software program created
by Alan Privette (widely available on the Internet).
5. ARCPRO, a commercially available software program
developed by Kinectrics, Toronto, ON, CA.
The different options can be confusing since they provide
inconsistent results. In addition there does not seem to be a
limit to how you use the different calculation methods. That is,
you can use different methods throughout your analysis to
manipulate the results.
When considering OSHA, particular note should be made of
OSHAs General Duty Clause. This clauseSection 5 of the
Occupational Safety and Health Actstates:
(a) Each employer
(1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment
and a place of employment which are free from
recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to
cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;
(2) shall comply with occupational safety and health
standards promulgated under this Act.
Because the broad application of the General Duty Clause,
there is a general view by electrical system operators, even
while acknowledging that the different standards provide
exemptions for different electrical systems, that OSHA will
enforce what they want to independent of application of
other standards or regulations. In other words electrical system
operators may have exemptions that apply to their situation,
but decide to implement a mitigation strategy just to avoid
OSHA General Duty Clause risk.
F. Conflicts and Conclusions
1. IEEE 1584 provides guidelines for performing arc flash
calculations, but proper analysis is dependent on
understanding the electrical system and understanding
the bases of calculations. As an example, Annex D in
NFPA 70E shows different incident energy calculations
based on Arc in Open Air or Arc in a Cubic Box
scenarios. Other factors that will impact methodology
choice are: Voltage level, indoor or outdoor
installations, and above or below ground power lines.
Also, it is best to use actual system information, rather
than conservative assumptions.
2. NFPA 70E applies to industrial and commercial
electrical systems, not utility electrical systems.
3. NESC applies to utility electrical systems.
4. Adoption of NESC will depend on location and
governance of utility.
5. OSHA allows five different methods for calculating
incident heat energy, but the different methods can
produce wide-ranging results. This creates confusion
for system operators.
6. Concern brought on by OSHAs General Duty Clause
often encourages mitigation action when applicable
standards would not.
The aim of any mitigation plan is to reduce the incident
energy and thus reduce the arc flash hazard and minimize any
onerous work process requirements, such as PPE level.
Reviewing the calculations established by IEEE 1584, it
becomes obvious that there are two inverse factors that are the
basis for any mitigation plan (see Figure 1): Increase the
working distance (moving outside the Flash Boundary) and
decrease the fault clearing time.

E is the incident energy (cal/cm
Cf is a calculation factor (1.0 for voltages above 1 kV, 1.5 for
voltages at or below 1 kV)
En is the energy normalized for a specific time and distance
dependent on the available fault current and physical
equipment (cal/cm
t is time (s)
x is a distance factor (exponent lookup from Table D.7.2 in
D is the distance (mm) from the possible arc point to the person

Fig. 1. Example Equation

However, there is another system design option to consider
first: Reducing the magnitude of the fault current.
A. Reduce the Fault Current
Typically one can assume incident energy is proportional to
the available fault current, so reducing it will provide some
relief if an arc flash hazard analysis results in high incident
energy numbers. The options to reduce this current are:
Deploy electronic current limiters (reducing fault
current and decreasing clearing time).
Install current-limiting fuses.
Reduce transformer sizes.
Increase transformer impedance.
Implement impedance grounded systems.
Install current-limiting reactors.
That said, these options may not be available for the
electrical system operator due to other system constraints. In
addition, a reduction in fault current can potentially also
increase incident energy if the reduction produces a longer
clearing time for the overcurrent device. This result will

2 . 0
depend on the relay scheme utilized, but makes it clear system
changes require a recheck of prior analysis to confirm desired
B. Increase the Working Distance
Working distance is the distance from the possible arc point
to the head and body of the worker positioned in place to
perform the assigned task. Increasing this distance moves the
worker farther from harms way. There are a number of ways
to increase the working distance, directly and indirectly.
1) De-energizing Equipment
De-energizing equipment always provides the safest work
situation for the electrical worker. This option moves the
possible arc point behind the interrupting device. However, de-
energizing equipment is often not an option in todays tight
production workplace; andsince restarting an industrial
process is often fraught with riskit can just shift risk to other
workers in a facility, such as process operators.
2) Use technology to work away from energized equipment
Mechanical and electronic options exist to allow workers to
complete their work farther from the arc point. The most
common is remote racking breakers using an umbilical-cable-
connected control box. Infrared inspection and video
surveillance might also be included here.
3) Install warning labels (consider painting floor)
Once an arc flash hazard analysis is completed, equipment
must be labeled with warnings reflecting the results. The
authors have observed, however, that these labels are often
fixed to the equipment and require incursion into unsafe areas
just to read the warning. A related option, that is easier to
follow and enforce, is to paint the floor in front of equipment
in different colors reflecting the PPE required.
4) Ensure PPE Appropriate for the Hazard Level
Whether by calculation or use of a table, once an arc flash
hazard analysis is completed, workers must wear PPE
appropriate to the analysis results.
C. Decrease the Fault Clearing Time
Fault clearing time is the duration from fault inception to
fault extinguishment. Decreasing the fault clearing time will
decrease the incident energy and minimize the damage to
people or equipment. There are different options, either alone
or combined, to decrease fault clearing time.
1) Increase fault current
As noted above, there can be a counterintuitive incident
energy calculation response due to the overcurrent protective
devices reaction to the fault current. In some cases it may
make sense to actually increase the fault current to lower the
incident energy.
2) Install faster (3-cycle or 5-cycle) breakers
Protection engineers might design a relay scheme that is
quite fast, but if that relay scheme sends a trip signal to a slow
circuit breaker (e.g., a 12-cycle breaker), the benefits of the
fast relay scheme are undermined. New breakers should have a
3- or 5-cycle rating. With such breakers a fault clearing time of
less than 100ms (6 cycles) is possible. And once installed,
breakers must be maintained in good operating condition to
continue to operate within design parameters.
3) Consider or reconsider relay scheme
a) Recheck coordination focused on arc flash mitigation
Once an arc flash analysis is completed, it is often valuable
to recheck the relay coordination study specific for arc flash
mitigation. Relay engineers are typically conservative. This is
exhibited two ways: 1) The use of bolted fault currents as a
basis for coordination studies and 2) The typical use of 0.3-
second coordination interval between the inverse time current
curves of overcurrent devices. These are good practices, but
may exacerbate the arc flash characteristics of a system.
Using an arcing fault current basis and setting overcurrent
devices accordingly can provide a more realistic picture of the
fault clearing time.
In addition, with arc flash mitigation in mind, the security
provided by the 0.3-second coordination interval may not be as
important as ensuring the fastest fault clearing time possible.
The advantage of this recheck is it requires no new
equipment. The disadvantages are the cost of the coordination
study recheck, the potential insecurity reduced coordination
intervals may create (although newer technologies, such as
IEC61850, may make it possible to reduce coordination
intervals more than possible in the past), and the trip times are
still relatively slow.
b) Zone interlocking
A zone interlocking scheme uses blocking signals to
respond differently depending on the location (or zone) of the
fault. As such, this provides an ability to supervise fault
response and provide a faster tripping option for zones where
an arc flash is more likely or where personnel are more likely
to work.
The advantage of this scheme is it can use existing
equipment and is typically faster than simpler time overcurrent
schemes. The disadvantages are the cost of a new coordination
study and additional complexity.
c) Bus differential
A bus differential scheme is based on Kirchoffs Current
Law. During normal operation the sum of all currents entering
and exiting a node must add to zero. However during an
abnormal event within the protected node, or zone of
protection, this sum is not zero and the node is isolated to clear
the fault.
This scheme, whether a high-impedance or low-impedance
type, is fast and secure but can be relatively costly because it
can require dedicated CTs, complex settings, additional
wiring, and extra testing.
d) Enable instantaneous overcurrent protection during
Perhaps the most popularly discussed relay scheme for arc
flash hazard mitigation is to use instantaneous protection
during maintenance activities. In this option the maintenance
workers use a switch or pushbutton to enable instantaneous
overcurrent protection while working in the area. There has
also been some discussion of an automatic switchover option
whereby a motion detector could be used to invoke a change in
relay settings (e.g., enabling an alternate settings group).
The advantages of this scheme are that the critical
equipment should already be in place, and only simple changes
(adding a control switch or pushbutton, adding some control
wiring, and updating the relay settings slightly) are required to
implement the scheme. The disadvantage of this scheme is it
depends on actions by maintenance workers that may become
casual with the procedures over time. There is also the small
riskbecoming a large risk if normal settings are not restored
at the conclusion of the maintenance activitiesof
overtripping during these maintenance activities, a trade-off
for the increased safety.
e) Optical sensors
Since arc flash faults emit such a high intensity light, one
option that is growing in popularity is the use of optical
sensors. These schemes typically use fiber opticseither a
non-jacketed sensor fiber that detects light along its entire
length or a lens fiber that detects light only at its terminal
endto detect the arc flash.
To ensure security of detection, optical sensor relays also
have a current input to supervise the light detection. As such,
the trip signal is only sent to the connected breakers when an
overcurrent condition also exists when the arc flash is
The advantages of an optical scheme are: Speed (2.5 ms trip
signal). Its independence from other relay schemesit does
not need to be coordinated with other deployed schemes. Its
trip time is independent from fault current magnitude. And
finally, it is not dependent on work procedures. That is, it
operates whether the worker remembers to follow all the
required work procedure steps or not. The disadvantages of
this scheme are the inconvenience and cost to retrofit on
existing switchgear installations and it does not provide any
help in outdoor, open air systems. However, such outdoor
systems generally have lower incident energies than switchgear
A. Arc flash hazard assessment conclusion
8 cal/cm
PPE provides sufficient mitigation.
B. Overview
Application Example 1 involves a typical distribution
substation transformer and metalclad switchgear. (The One-
line diagram is shown in Figure 2.) The utilitys work and
exposure is typically on the low side of the transformer. As
such, the discussion and review will focus on that aspect. For
simplicity in this example, the comparison and calculations
will exclude arc in a box situations.
C. Design Assumptions
For reference, the 15MVA substation power transformer
high side is 115kV grounded wye with a 12.47kV grounded
wye secondary and an impedance of 7.8%.
Given and assumed parameters:
9kA maximum fault calculated from transformer
impedance only.
24 distance between employee and fault based upon
minimum approach distance (22 per NESC Table
Boundary energy of 2 cal/cm
as cotton clothing wont
provide enough protection over that value (OSHA
1910.269 Appendix F(II)(A)).
D. Mitigation
This information, as well as the clearing times from the time
coordination curves, was input into the IEEE 1584 spreadsheet
(see Figure 3) with the results shown in Figures 4 and 5.
The results indicate the load side of the feeder breakers may
experience an arc flash incident energy of 2.0 cal/cm
Between the feeder breakers and the circuit switcher, the arc
flash incident energy may be 7.9 cal/cm
Since most utility work will be on the distribution system
protected by the feeder breakers, 4 cal/cm
clothing will be
used. Additional protection will be necessary for protection
against arc in the box situations. Most FR (Flame-Resistant)
clothing manufacturers provide 8 cal/cm
clothingshirts and
pantsthat appear very similar to everyday-wear clothing.
This facilitates adoption by employees. An informal check
confirmed other utilities have similar plans to use 8 cal/cm



Fig. 2. Application Example 1 One-line

Fig. 3. Arc Flash Input Parameters

Fig. 4. Arc Flash Calculations


Fig. 5. Arc Flash Summary

A. Arc flash hazard assessment conclusion
Divergent concerns require a belt and suspenders
approach including a dedicated optical sensor relay scheme.
B. Overview
Application Example 2 is a typical large-scale wind
project collector substation. The switchgear is metalclad
with eight to ten 34.5kV breakers. (The typical one-line
diagramshowing a single 34.5 kV breakeris shown in
Figure 6.)
C. Design considerations and challenges
Arc flash safety must be ensured for Operations and
Maintenance personnel who are specialized in the
maintenance of wind turbine generators and have little
experience with substation equipment. Further, since
collector substations are often shared with utilities and other
developers, the arc flash mitigation measures must also
ensure safety of personnel not employed or trained by
Iberdrola Renewables. Finally, down time must be
D. Mitigation
In a belt and suspenders approach, overlapping arc flash
mitigation options will be implemented:
The arc flash hazard area (area in front of the
switchgear) is closed off by a chain-link gate.
Signage is installed on the gate clearly describing the
safety hazards and required PPE needed within the
arc flash hazard area.
A mimic panel is used so that all controls of the
switchgear breakers and relays can be operated well
away from arc flash hazard area.
Breakers can be racked out through a remote device
so personnel do not have to stand within the hazard
area to perform this operation.
An optical sensor arc protection system is deployed
throughout all breaker cubicles within the switchgear
building. This limits the energy and duration of the
blast, thus decreasing the hazard to personnel and
limiting damage to equipment.
Protected Zone
34.5 kV
-0.69/0.398 kV
Fig. 6. Application Example 2 One-line
Arc flash hazards cause more injuries than shock
The utility electrical system environment has
Standards and Regulations provide guidelines,
requirements, and inconsistencies. Exemptions
perceived as tenuous.
There are many mitigation options. Each has
advantages and disadvantages.
No cookie cutter approach to mitigation. Each utility
will be somewhat unique in approach.
[1] R. H. Lee, The Other Electrical Hazard: Electric Arc Blast Burns,
IEEE Trans. Ind. Appl., vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 246-251, May/Jun 1982.
[2] R. A. Jones, et al., Staged Tests Increase Awareness of Arc Flash
Hazards in Electrical Equipment, IEEE Trans. Ind. Appl., vol. 36,
no. 2, pp. 659-667, Mar/Apr 2000.
[3] C. Inshaw and R. Wilson, Arc Flash Hazard Analysis and
Mitigation, presented at Western Protective Relay Conference,
Spokane, WA, October 20th, 2004.
[4] Guide to Performing Arc Flash Calculations, IEEE Standard 1584,
[5] Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, NFPA Standard
70E, 2009.
[6] NESC (National Electric Safety Code), ANSI/IEEE Standard C2,
[7] IEEE Standards Association, [Online] Available:
[8] NEC (National Electric Code), NFPA Standard 70, 2008.
[9] Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Public Law 91-596, 84
STAT. 1590, 91st Congress, S.2193, December 29, 1970, as
amended through January 1, 2004.
[10] J. Kumm, Five Ways to Reduce Arc Flash Hazards, System
Protection Services Newsletter, [Online] Available:
[11] J. Buff and K. Zimmerman, Reducing Arc Flash Hazards: Applying
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[12] K. Zimmerman, et al., Protection Considerations to Mitigate Arc
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Jay Sperl is a Regional Technical Manager for ABB Inc. in Prosser, WA.
He received his BSEE degree Washington State University in 1988. He is
a Member of IEEE and a Registered Professional Engineer in California.
Clint Whitney is the Electrical Systems Supervisor for the City of
Richland in Richland, WA. He received his BSEE degree from
Washington State University in 1991. He is a Senior Member of IEEE and
a Registered Professional Engineer in Washington.
Andrew Milner is an Electrical Engineer in Wind Technical Services for
Iberdrola Renewables in Portland, OR. He received his BSEE degree from
Oregon State University in 2003. He is a Member of IEEE and a
Registered Professional Engineer in Oregon.