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ETAP Innovation Improves Nuclear Plant Safety and Operations

Power system analysis continues to advance safety, reliability, cost-savings for the nuclear industry.

Irvine, Calif. – September 8, 2014 — ETAP® the leading provider of software solutions for the design, analysis, optimization, and real-time operation of electrical power systems, today announced the release of a report by the ETAP Nuclear Utilities User Group (NUUG), summarizing the collaborative efforts among industry experts to accurately analyze the effects of open-phase faults in electrical networks that result in improved safety and resilience of nuclear facilities worldwide.

This collaboration and the resulting innovation was recognized by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in a public meeting held in Washington, D.C., as ETAP power system analysis software capability directly aligns with the guidance by NRC’s technical document on open-phase fault condition. Both the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) also recognized the importance of this effort and praised the leadership of the ETAP NUUG:

“Accurately identifying the impact of open-phase conditions on a plant distribution system was a significant industry challenge. The prompt, diligent response that the ETAP staff provided the industry - working through their nuclear users group to update and validate the ETAP models - helped to develop the confidence that the analysis results were technically sound. The ETAP staff, working with the user group, is a great example of proactive engagement and response needed to solve a complex issue.” said Shawn Simon, Principal Evaluator, INPO.

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), a policy organization of the commercial nuclear industry, also formed a steering committee and working group of industry experts focused on organizing an industry-wide initiative to address this issue:

“I was particularly impressed when ETAP and their nuclear user group quickly responded to a request by the nuclear industry to address the modeling of a new vulnerability,“ stated Gordon Clefton, Senior Project Manager, Nuclear Energy Institute. “The dedication of highly skilled programmers to work closely with industry power system experts resulted in a product that will be useful in developing open-phase indication circuitry to maintain the health and safety of the public.”

Download the full report from ETAP Nuclear Utility User Group

In 2012, the NUUG community approached ETAP with a particularly vexing problem stemming from electrical phenomenon called an “open-phase fault.” A reliable source of offsite electric power is critical to the safe shutdown of a nuclear power reactor. Offsite power is normally supplied from the local transmission system via conductors from each of the three phases. An open-phase fault occurs if one or two of the three conductors fails open (conductor disconnects) exposing the in-plant safety systems to a potentially undesirable situation that may lead to failure.

Open phase faults pose a two-prong problem for facility operators: first, they can impact the reliability of a plant’s backup power systems, which means that – as a safety precaution – the plant would have to be taken off-line, a very expensive shut down/restart process for the utility; and secondly, they are not always detectable without retrofitting the plant with new power system hardware, a multimillion-dollar expense involving significant plant downtown.

Over the course of nearly two years, under the leadership of ETAP NUUG Technical Chair, Mark Bowman, the group consulted with ETAP experts to provide a capability in the software to simulate and analyze the effects of an open phase condition. After close collaboration and an interactive customer-vendor development effort, in 2014 ETAP unveiled an enhancement to its Unbalanced Load Flow module that provided a comprehensive graphical (OPFA) capability to study the condition and, in turn, saved utilities millions of dollars that would have been required by alternative approaches.

“Tackling complex and cutting-edge power system challenges are what ETAP’s Thinking Power is all about,” said Dr. Farrokh Shokooh, President and CEO of ETAP. “Throughout our history, we’ve sought out the most rigorous engineering hurdles, not because they would sell the most software, or bring in the most revenue, but because they helped our customers in ways that were instrumental to achieving their operational and business goals.  We are very proud of the ETAP spirit, and the way it powers our customers’ success.” 

ETAP would like to recognize the dedication and leadership of the ETAP NUUG Open-Phase Task Force and the team of power system analysis experts from Duke Energy, Enercon Services, Inc., Exelon Corp., MPR Associates, Inc., Sargent & Lundy, LLC, Southern Nuclear, and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). 


About ETAP
Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Irvine, Calif., ETAP is the global market and technology leader in electrical power system modeling, design, analysis, optimization, and predictive real-time solutions. The Company’s software technologies ensure that power systems are designed for optimal reliability, safety, and energy efficiency; when deployed in real-time mode, they enable organizations to manage energy as a strategic asset, maximize system utilization, lower costs, and achieve higher levels of financial stability. To date, more than 50,000 licenses of the Company’s ETAP and ETAP Real-Time products have been used in demanding generation, transmission, distribution, and industrial power system projects around the world. Visit etap.com for more information.

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