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Analysis of a Relay Operation

for an Intercircuit Fault

Ryan McDaniel
Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc.

Copyright SEL 2014

Winter Storm Batters Midwest

15 inches of snow in 48 hours
High moisture content in snow

Heavy weight

Sagging power lines

Downed limbs and collapsed buildings

Over 300 relay operations during

24-hour period

System Overview

Unusual Relay Operation

Relay W overreach occurs when Breaker 4
is open
Relay W reports fault location shorter than
line it protects
Fault study shows that maximum phase-toground fault at Substation B is 3,225 A
There is no universal time

Relay W Event #1 Waveform

Relay W Event #1 Phasor View

Puzzling Fault Location

Apparent Line Impedance and Resistance
XAG is 40% of Z1MAG
(2.76-mile fault location is 40% of total line)
RAG is 150% of Z1MAG

Evaluating Mho Element Operation

Shift in A-phase voltage contributes to overreach

Is this restricted to Relay W?

What Did Nearby Relays See?

Relay W

Relay Y








Relay Z


Calculated Double-Ended Fault Location

Event Miles From W


Miles From Y

Miles From Z



Relay Y Event #1 Phasor View

Fault Location Is 1.98 miles

System-Wide Event
All Relays Experienced A-Phase
Voltage Shift
Affected relay mho elements

Memory-polarized mho overreach

Self-polarized mho underreach

Affected single-ended fault location

High apparent resistance

Low apparent reactance

...Time Passes
After initial analysis, 69 kV underbuild
owned by another utility was revealed
69 kV owner had two events for date in
question from one terminal
All other events pushed out of relay due to
high number of relay operations

69 kV Relay Event
Same Time as Event #2 From Relay W!

161 kV and 69 kV Combined Event

Intercircuit Fault Between 161 kV

A-Phase and 69 kV B-Phase
construction is
1.46 miles from
Substation B
fault location)

Symmetrical Component Analysis

Assume no load, no Rf, and infinite system
Observe at Points Fa and Fb



Solve for Loop Current

Three-Line Solution

Line Relay Perspective

Line relays only see half of fault
Line relays tend to declare phase-toground fault
Shifted voltage contributes to high apparent
resistance, low apparent line impedance
Ground mho element misoperation
can occur

Evaluate Ground Mho for AB and

A-Phase-to-Ground Faults
AB fault between Fa and Fb (115%)
A-phase-to-ground fault at Fa (115%)
Zone 1 reach = 85%

Ground Mho Element Response

VA = 0.5350
IA = 0.46590
VA = 0.68217.2
IA = 0.460
VA = 0.55434.5
IA = 0.62860

The Problem
Difficult to maintain speed, sensitivity,
selectivity, dependability, and security with
mho element

Traditional fault type

Intercircuit fault type

May be impossible for various system


Can We Ignore Intercircuit Faults?

Intercircuit faults are unlikely, but possible

Extreme weather, high crosswind, earthquake

Vehicle crash

High line loading

Consequences endanger system

Loss of critical load

Equipment damage

Stability issues

Solutions and Improvements

Line current differential
Traveling wave fault location
Advanced system study
GPS clocks
Automatic event retrieval system

Lessons Learned
Intercircuit faults can be difficult to identify
Mho elements can lack security and
dependability for complex faults
Line current differential provides proper
operation and accurate fault location