Protection System Misoperations

About this risk area

The grid utilizes relays and associated communication systems to protect from faults which can damage equipment and cause safety concerns. Misoperations, which are failures of these systems, are a risk that ReliabilityFirst continues to track, trend, and evaluate to help industry reduce the risk of a more widespread outage. 

Misoperations are a risk because they often exacerbate the impact of transmission and generation outages by over-tripping, or cause damage to equipment by failing to operate. Severe misoperations may result in load loss or even cascading outages. This risk can be exacerbated by several factors, including aggressive generation retirements in the Midwest, aging equipment, human performance, and commissioning issues, including risks associated with the installation of inverter-based resources. 

Over the past five years, the ReliabilityFirst region has significantly improved the misoperation rate (number of misoperations divided by the total number of operations) in our footprint, as documented in the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC)’s annual State of Reliability Report. The total number of misoperations and operations have also been reduced annually, significantly reducing transmission and generation risks to the grid. ReliabilityFirst has helped mitigate the risk not just through the audit and enforcement of the NERC Reliability Standards, but also through committee work, workshops, webinars, and lessons learned on misoperation mitigations. If you are interested in relaying and reducing misoperations, we encourage you to join the ReliabilityFirst Protection Subcommittee, which includes peer reviews of misoperations to help reduce future occurrences.  

This risk area is also the focus of ReliabilityFirst’s annual Protection System Workshop each August, and relaying and misoperations are often discussed in our newsletter articles and on Technical Talk with RF. If you have any questions about misoperations, the relevant NERC Reliability Standards, relaying, protection systems, inverter-based resources, or commissioning, please reach out to us through our Assist Visit Program. 

Explore protection system misoperations resources below.