Human Factors for Situation Assessment in Grid Operations

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Executive Summary Despite advances in technology, power system operators must assimilate overwhelming amounts of data to keep the grid operating. Analyses of recent blackouts have clearly demonstrated the need to enhance the operator’s situation awareness (SA). The long-term objective of this research is to integrate valuable technologies into the grid operator environment that support decision making under normal and abnormal operating conditions and remove non-technical barriers to enable the optimum use of these technologies by individuals working alone and as a team. More specifically, the research aims to identify methods and principles to increase SA of grid operators in the ... continued below

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Guttromson, Ross T.; Schur, Anne; Greitzer, Frank L. & Paget, Mia L. August 8, 2007.

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Description

Executive Summary Despite advances in technology, power system operators must assimilate overwhelming amounts of data to keep the grid operating. Analyses of recent blackouts have clearly demonstrated the need to enhance the operator’s situation awareness (SA). The long-term objective of this research is to integrate valuable technologies into the grid operator environment that support decision making under normal and abnormal operating conditions and remove non-technical barriers to enable the optimum use of these technologies by individuals working alone and as a team. More specifically, the research aims to identify methods and principles to increase SA of grid operators in the context of system conditions that are representative or common across many operating entities and develop operationally relevant experimental methods for studying technologies and operational practices which contribute to SA. With increasing complexity and interconnectivity of the grid, the scope and complexity of situation awareness have grown. New paradigms are needed to guide research and tool development aimed to enhance and improve operations. In reviewing related research, operating practices, systems, and tools, the present study established a taxonomy that provides a perspective on research and development surrounding power grid situation awareness and clarifies the field of human factors/SA for grid operations. Information sources that we used to identify critical factors underlying SA included interviews with experienced operational personnel, available historical summaries and transcripts of abnormal conditions and outages (e.g., the August 14, 2003 blackout), scientific literature, and operational policies/procedures and other documentation. Our analysis of August 2003 blackout transcripts and interviews adopted a different perspective than previous analyses of this material, and we complemented this analysis with additional interviews. Based on our analysis and a broad literature review, we advocate a new perspective on SA in terms of sensemaking, also called situated or ecological decision making, where the focus of the investigation is to understand why the decision maker(s) experienced the situation the way they did, or why what they saw made sense to them at the time. This perspective is distinct from the traditional branch of human factors research in the field which focuses more on ergonomics and the transactional relationship between the human operator and the systems. Consistent with our findings from the literature review, we recognized an over-arching need to focus SA research on issues surrounding the concept of shared knowledge; e.g., awareness of what is happening in adjacent areas as well as one’s own area of responsibility. Major findings were: a) Inadequate communication/information sharing is pervasive, b) Information is available, but not used. Many tools and mechanisms exist for operators to build awareness of the physical grid system, yet the transcripts reveal that they still need to call and exchange information with operators of neighboring areas to improve or validate their SA. The specific types of information that they request are quite predictable and, in most cases, cover information that could be available to both operators and reliability coordinators through readily available displays or other data sources, c) Shared Knowledge is Required on Operations/Actions as Well as Physical Status. In an ideal, technologically and organizationally perfect world, every control room and every reliability coordinator may have access to complete data across all regional control areas and yet, there would still be reason for the operators to call each other to gain and improve their SA of power grid operations, and d) Situation Awareness as sensemaking and shared knowledge.

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  • Report No.: PNNL-16780
  • Grant Number: AC05-76RL01830
  • DOI: 10.2172/935904 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 935904
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc895430

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • August 8, 2007

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Nov. 29, 2016, 12:58 p.m.

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Guttromson, Ross T.; Schur, Anne; Greitzer, Frank L. & Paget, Mia L. Human Factors for Situation Assessment in Grid Operations, report, August 8, 2007; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc895430/: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.