TADP 541 Electrical Distribution System Design

Course Information: 3 credits. TADP 541-Electrical Distribution System Design: An introductory course to overhead distribution concepts and design. Overhead line design calculations explained from pole loading, guying, conductor sagging and basic transformer theory and connections. Distribution and Customer grounding design. Distribution automation and Smart Grid applications.

Course Description/Objectives:

Instruction will be presented by three instructors; Mark Miller, Mark Weiss and Shane Pacini. Mark Miller is a distribution engineer with more than 30 years of professional engineering experience in designing distribution systems.  He uses his extensive experience of real world design experience, to offer students a comprehensive introduction to the topics presented in weeks 1-4. Mark Weiss is a distribution engineer with Avista Corp with experience in distribution design.  Mark will cover distribution grounding design topics in week 5. Shane Pacini is a distribution and operations engineer, with 8 years of distribution design experience for an electric utility.  He will be presenting his material in weeks 6 and 7.

The course begins with a one-week overview of the course objectives and an introduction to common overhead and underground distribution system components..

In week 2 students will learn about wood structures and alternative structures such as steel, concrete and fiberglass. Discussions on both mechanical and electrical properties of bare overhead conductors and the calculations that must be understood for properly sagging overhead conductors will be explained.

In week 3 the students will learn critical mathematical calculations that are common to any overhead line design. Calculations such as transverse loading, conductor clearances, pole buckling and guying will be discussed in detail.  

In week 4 the students will be introduced to the power triangle, leading/lagging power factor calculations and common single and three phase power calculations. The student will also be introduced to transformers and transformer connections for both single phase and three phase banks.

In week 5 students will be introduced to distribution and customer grounding system design and considerations, including some special conditions associated with neutral and grounding practices.  

Week 6 will focus on Distribution System Operations, and will introduce students to design, equipment, and concepts required to efficiency operate distribution systems.

In week 7 students will be introduced to Distribution Automation, focusing on the recent efforts to modernize the distribution grids. Students will also learn the technologies required to achieve automation and new concepts stemming from an intelligent system.

At the completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • 1. Design a simple 3ph-4wire overhead power line with properly sized poles, correct framing, guying and wire size to serve the intended load properly and safely.
  • 2. Properly size and connect a 3ph transformer bank for the intended load.
  • 3. Calculate design aspects for conductors, including sag and tension, clearances and guying techniques.
  • 4. Students will understand the role transformers play in a distribution system and how to incorporate them into a design plan.
  • 5. Understand the basic materials and design methods for grounding distribution systems.
  • 6. Understand the concepts of Distribution Automation and how they benefit operations.
  • 7. Become familiar in the emerging areas of distribution systems brought about by integrating advanced technology and communication with distribution components

Recent Student Evaluations:

  • I have a better understanding of what is involved in developing construction standards. I also learned quite a bit about grounding that I hadn't previously known.
  • This course helped me to understand transformer connections more thoroughly and to understand why they are wired the way they are.
  • The step by step procedure for determining pole, conductor, and guy strengths was good. I also liked the whole grounding module.
  • Most valuable was probably transformers, substation design, voltage compensation & grounding.
  • The most important aspect of this course was the mechanical design of overhead lines. It is going to help me in my job.
  • The most valuable aspect of the course was the practicality of it. I liked how it focused a lot on what actually happens in the real world.