What Is the Bulk Electric System?

By North Central Electric,

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Bulk Power SystemTo maintain an uninterrupted flow of energy to homes and businesses across the country, generation and transmission lines must be monitored continuously. Our standard of living depends on this energy generation and transmission, therefore, we must utilize a reliable bulk power system that is kept in constant balance with demand. In the United States and Canada, the bulk power system comprises four major electric system networks. If one of these systems is disrupted, the effects are felt largely and in more than one location. Below, the experts at NCE dive deeper into the bulk power system and its reliability throughout the country. 

The Bulk Power System

The bulk power system (BPS) is an extensive, interconnected electrical system consisting of generation and transmission facilities and control systems. The facilities and control systems are necessary for operating an integral electric energy transmission network and maintaining transmission system reliability. Together these components generate and deliver electricity to customers across North America. 

Out of the four electric system networks that serve the USA and Canada, the two major networks that power most of the United States include the Western Interconnection and Eastern Interconnection, which are divided roughly where the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Plains. Quebec and most of Texas are served by their own interconnections, known simply as Quebec Interconnection and Texas Interconnection. In the United States, bulk power systems are overseen by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to ensure reliability and adequacy.  

Bulk Electric Utility System Reliability 

NERC enforces compliance with its bulk power system standards to all elements and facilities based on mandatory electric reliability standards. NERC defines these “elements” as “any electrical device with terminals that may be connected to other electrical devices, such as a generator, transformer, circuit breaker, bus section, or transmission line.”

NERC’s bulk power system reliability standards require that the system meets all expected demands under regular conditions and reasonably predictable contingencies. The BPS must retain a balance of generation and demand from second to second and protect equipment from physical damage when any disturbances occur, so the system can be quickly restored.  Additionally, the BPS must function within thermal and stability limits while ensuring that the system remains within those limits when there is a loss.

Bulk Electric System Awareness 

The NERC Bulk Power System Awareness group (BPSA) collects and analyzes information on system disturbances and other incidents that could impact the North American bulk power system. The information is then shared with internal departments, registered entities, governmental agencies, and the ERO Enterprise.

Electric Utility System Services by North Central Electric

At NCE, we are a commercial electrical company that has served our customers since 1988. We’ve been helping businesses across the Northeastern USA with superior, full-spectrum industrial testing, maintenance, engineering, commissioning, and project management services. Whether you operate a facility in the power generation, utility, industrial, manufacturing, or commercial industry, NCE’s industrial maintenance technicians will provide you with the electrical engineering services and programs you need to keep your facility functioning safely, efficiently, and effectively. Contact us today to schedule your maintenance or testing service.