Hydroelectricity: Network Control Centre in Simulation Mode

Robin Gilbert, Nicolas Samuelson and Martin Hudon were directly involved in setting up the network simulator and training the dispatchers.

The Power Operations Network Control Centre in Alma is the heart of our hydroelectricity operations, supplying power to Rio Tinto’s facilities in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean.

The supervisor-dispatchers work alongside the hydroelectric plants and other departments to manage all of Rio Tinto’s regional power grid, the operations of six hydroelectric plants and the opening of 33 water retaining structures. Over the past few years, the Network Control Centre has expanded its capabilities and can now simulate any network event at any time.

Martin Hudon, Network Supervisor, explained, “Two new features were added: a study mode, which allows us to confirm the network’s reaction before making a decision, and a simulator, separate from the other equipment, which allows us to simulate failures, such as shutdowns of plant equipment or transformers.”

Thanks to these two additions, the Network Control Centre is able to run tests that react just like the network and is now better prepared to handle any situation that may arise.

Luc Dallaire, Network Superintendent, explained “For 2021, we have made it our mission to optimise the use of the simulator and make it available to the entire team, as opposed to restricting its use to more targeted activities.” In early June, the Network Control Centre superintendents began simulation training. By the end of the year, they will be better prepared to handle emergency situations.

 “We included in our simulator events that actually occurred to make it seem like we are reacting to a real situation,” said Robert Gilbert, Network Supervisor and Simulator Integrator. “This will help employees make the right decisions when a failure occurs.”