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Published in IET Generation, Transmission & Distribution
Received on 15th August 2012
Revised on 20th March 2013
Accepted on 18th April 2013
doi: 10.1049/iet-gtd.2013.0042

ISSN 1751-8687

Authenticated voltage control of partitioned power

networks with optimal allocation of STATCOM
using heuristic algorithm
Hasan Mehrjerdi1, Esmaeil Ghahremani2, Serge Lefebvre1, Maarouf Saad3, Dalal Asber1
Research Institute of Hydro-Quebec, Varennes, J3X1S1, Canada
Opal-RT Technologies Inc, Montreal, H3K 1G6, Canada
Quebec University (ETS), Montreal, H3C 1K3, Canada
E-mail: hasan.mehrjerdi.1@ens.etsmtl.ca

Abstract: This study presents a secondary voltage control based on an optimisation algorithm to locate the control buses and
regulate the voltage. Control buses are the buses where compensators will be installed on these buses to regulate voltage and
avoid voltage violations. Firstly, partitioning algorithm using fuzzy C-means has been implemented on the power network.
Partitioning techniques split the power system into regions to avoid the propagation of disturbances between regions by using
local controllers. Then, a number of buses are labelled as control buses displaying the critical point for voltage control in
each region. The control algorithm is a decentralised controller which tries to eliminate voltage violations in power system
resulting from load variations and disturbances. The decentralised controllers are implemented using flexible AC transmission
system (FACTS) devices such as static synchronous compensator (STATCOM). The methodology is applied to the IEEE 118-
bus network. The results show the performance and ability of the partitioning algorithm and bus control selection to regulate
the voltage and avoid propagation of disturbances between regions.

1 Introduction robustness, practical feasibility, ease of hardware

implementation and low cost.
Today, power systems are improving from a traditional Several methods to design a SVC have been proposed
structure towards intelligent and aware systems. The [3–6]. Multi-agent systems (MASs) in large scale systems
progresses in power systems infrastructure challenge new play an important aspect in order to deal with complexity of
technologies and algorithms in different divisions of power large scale power systems [7–9]. Sheng et al. [10] present
systems. The new intelligent power systems need a variety a secondary voltage regulation algorithm based on MAS.
of upgrading in infrastructure such as monitoring, In system contingencies, this algorithm enhances the ability
communication, protection and control. Control methods of fast and coordinated voltage and reactive power control.
for a large-scale multiple-input–multiple-output non-linear They propose virtual control agency to adapt the emergency
system result in a heavy computational burden. Furthermore, dynamic control environment.
traditional optimisation techniques become computationally In some power network transmission systems such as
undesirable or improper. Control system architectures based Hydro-Quebec network lines are long with loads remote
on decentralised control have been considered to reduce the from production and it is difficult to maintain constant
computational complexity and manage the vast amount of voltage when the demand varies in highly loaded networks.
distributed data and coupling problems among subsystems. Without control, the voltage will exceed its operating range.
Mehrjerdi et al. [1] present decentralised controllers in This is harmful to quality and security.
secondary voltage control (SVC) to avoid voltage violation This paper describes a particular SVC for power systems
and prevent disturbance propagation in power system. They based on partitioning and heuristic decentralised control
install the controllers on the buses which are considered algorithm. This method presents an efficient and secure
as the most sensitive buses among all the buses in the voltage regulation for power systems by maintaining
same region. voltages within the ranges prescribed for all buses following
Aquino-Lugo et al. [2] present an optimisation algorithm to a change in the operating conditions. Optimisation control
control reactive resources in the distribution system by using is used to hold the bus voltages as close as possible to their
of intelligent agents. In this paper, heuristic-based regional reference value, especially useful when the power
technologies are used to implement decentralised control demand is heavy.
algorithms. Replacing centralised voltage-control systems Different methods have been developed for partition
with decentralised techniques has many advantages such as recognition and model reduction [11–16]. Kamwa et al.

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[12] introduce a partitioning method based on a fuzzy 2 Problem formulation
clustering algorithm where clusters are centred around the
representative buses called medoid-bus. This method results Fig. 1 shows the general block diagram of SVC of power
a phasor measurement unit configuration with minimum system based on partitioning algorithm. As can be seen in
number of devices and fast data aggregation for a wide-area this figure, firstly power system is partitioned by an
measurement system. They developed the method to an intelligent algorithm. Then, a number of buses entitled as
actual network (Hydro-Québec) with realistic characteristics control buses are selected in each region (where
in terms of geography and system dynamics [13]. compensators will be installed in theses buses) to control
The scheme proposed in this paper separates the power voltages in different regions. Control bus selection can be
system into smaller regions using fuzzy C-means (FCM) implemented using different algorithms. In this paper, an
method to avoid cascading events. The algorithm is tested optimisation algorithm is considered to choose the desired
on the IEEE 118-bus network. This network is divided into buses for installing the control elements on them. Buses
regions that are designed to have minimum interaction and voltages are measured to check if they are in their desired
therefore any disturbances in a particular region will not limits. If there is a violation in voltage of buses in a region,
strongly propagate to the other regions. Selection of the controller installed in the control buses will act and insert
control buses is the most central point for an appropriate the required reactive power to the region.
controller design to obtain efficient voltage regulation. The
selection of control buses in each region is based on the 3 Allocation of STATCOM controllers:
FACTS placement procedure (here STATCOM) to optimal locations and optimal values
maximise the power system loadability by allocating the
STATCOM device at the identified regions of IEEE The process of optimal placement of STATCOM controllers
118-bus system using the optimisation method presented in in different regions of power network is developed using an
[17]. optimisation process based on GA. The goal of this process
FACTS devices can ameliorate the efficiency of existing is to maximise the power system loadability at selected
networks by re-dispatching line flow patterns in such a way regions. Here in this section, we present the optimal
that the thermal limits are not exceeded, whereas fulfilling placement procedure briefly. The readers can refer to [17]
contractual requirements between grid stakeholders and for more details. At first a short description about GA is
increasing system loadability. From the steady-state point of presented.
view, FACTS devices operate by supplying or absorbing
reactive power, increasing or reducing voltage and
3.1 Genetic algorithm
controlling the series impedance of transmission lines or
phase angle. The GA is a kind of stochastic method for solving both
However, the benefits of these devices are strictly constrained and unconstrained optimisation problems based
dependent on their type, size, number and location in the on the mechanism of natural selection. The GA repeatedly
power network system. In the optimisation method which modifies a population of individual solutions. At each step,
uses the genetic algorithm (GA), the placement procedure some individuals are randomly selected from the current
for different number of STATCOM’s is developed to population to be parents for the next generation. Over
maximise the loadability of the network. The optimisation successive generations, the population evolves towards an
process will find the optimal locations and values of the optimal solution [18, 19].
given number of STATCOM’s in the selected regions of The GA begins by creating a random initial population.
IEEE 118-bus system. To take an example, assume the two individuals in Fig. 2a
Controllers are individually designed for each region which as an initial population.
injects required reactive power into the region in case of The algorithm then creates a sequence of new populations.
disturbances and regional voltage variations. The method is This is done by ranking the members of the current
applied to IEEE 118-bus system with three regions and population according to their fitness values. Some of the
controllers installed on control buses in order to eliminate individuals in the current population that have the best
voltage violations in the system. fitness value are chosen as elite children. These elite
The paper is organised as follows: Section 2 presents the individuals are passed on to the next population. In addition
problem formulation, and Section 3 describes the design of to elite children, there are two other methods for generating
controllers by optimisation algorithm and allocation of a new child population: mutation and crossover.
compensator controllers. Section 4 explains the partitioning Mutation children are generated by randomly changing the
algorithm. Section 6 presents the simulation results and genes of a single individual parent (see Fig. 2b) and the
finally we conclude the paper in Section 7. crossover children created by combining pairs of parents in

Fig. 1 SVC based on partitioning algorithm

1038 IET Gener. Transm. Distrib., 2013, Vol. 7, Iss. 9, pp. 1037–1045
& The Institution of Engineering and Technology 2013 doi: 10.1049/iet-gtd.2013.0042
is no longer possible to satisfy the constraints, it is
concluded that the maximum loadability has been reached.
This is in fact a multi-stage greedy algorithm that follows
the solving heuristic of making the locally optimal choice at
each stage in the hope of finding a global optimum. On
some problems, a greedy sequential strategy need not
produce an optimal solution, but nonetheless a greedy
heuristic may yield locally optimal solutions that
approximate a global optimal solution.
The corresponding objective function which maximises the
power system loadability (λ) could be formalised as follows

J = Max{l} (3)

Subject to the following loadability constraints

Sl ≤ Slmax :for all branches of the network (4)

DV  ≤ 0.05 :for all busses of the network (5)

Pgi ≤ Pgi ≤ Pgi
:for all generation buses (6)

where Slmax is the maximum value for the apparent power of

the line l, Sl is the current apparent power of the line l and ΔVbi
is the difference between the nominal voltage at bus i and the
current voltage, Pgi is the generation at bus i, Pmin gi and Pgi

Fig. 2 GA begins by creating a random initial population are minimum and maximum bounds on Pgi, respectively.
a Original individuals In summary, the optimisation process which finds the
b Mutation on each single individual maximum loading factor λmax (maximum system
c Crossover between two original individuals
loadability) could be presented as follows. At first step we
should initialise λ0 = 1 and select the number of STATCOM
the current population as the third type of children (see device. Then in step two we will increase λ = λ + 0.1 and
Fig. 2c). create an initial population of GAs. Then we should verify
Finally, the current population will be replaced with the constraint satisfaction in (4)–(6) for each individual.
selected children to form the next generation. The algorithm If there is any individual in whom the constraints are met, it
stops when one of the stopping criteria such as the number means that at current load factor (λ) we have a
of generations, time limit and fitness limit is met [19]. configuration that satisfies the loadability constraints and as
a result we should increase the load factor. Finally on step
three we continue this loop continues until we reach to a
3.2 Objective function of optimisation process load factor for which there is no individual with a fitness
The goal of our optimisation process is to maximise the function equal to zero. This means that at this load factor,
system loadability on the network without any bus voltage there is no configuration of STATCOM device which can
violation or branch loading. In order to achieve this bring the network voltage level and loading constraints into
objective, the load factor (λ) of the network will be acceptable ranges.
increased in an iterative optimisation process as follows. At this point, we should report the previous load factor
At initial condition λ is equal to 1 (λ0 = 1). corresponding to maximum load factor (λmax) and previous
First of all, the generating powers in generation buses (PG individual which includes optimal locations and values of
buses) are modified as in (1) STATCOM controllers.
The overall view of the allocated STATCOM controllers in
PGi = l PG0i (1) the network could be explained as some decentralised
controllers that their values are calculated based on the
where PG0i is the initial power generation at bus i and PGi is loadability constraints of the network such as voltage
the modified power generation. variations buses and load flow of lines. In other words, the
Then, for the load buses (PQ buses) the active and reactive loadability constraints of the network such as bus voltage
demands (PL and QL) are modified as (2) variations are the input signal of STATCOM controllers in
each region and outputs of the controllers are reactive
power injected in control buses. If a region is affected by
PLi = l PL0i
(2) disturbances and the bus voltages approach their operating
QLi = l QL0i limits (especially on the control buses), the controller will
check the ability of the generators in the same region to
where PL0i and QL0i are the initial active and reactive load provide the required reactive power and will insert reactive
power at bus i and PLi and QLi are the modified values. power in the region. If generators operate close to their
At each iteration, according to (1) and (2), the load factor is limits, then controller adjoin control elements (STATCOM)
increased and the optimisation constraints, which are bus to the system to provide the needed reactive power to the
voltage violation and branch loading, are verified. When it region to prevent voltage limit violations.

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measured data, Cj is the d-dimension centre of the cluster and
|| || is any norm expressing the similarity between any
measured data and the centre.
The fuzzifier m determines the level of cluster fuzziness.
A large m results in smaller memberships, uij, and hence fuzzier
clusters. In the limit m = 1, the memberships uij converge to 0
or 1, which implies a crisp partitioning. The FCM algorithm,
given n data points (x1, …, xn) to be clustered with (C1, …,
Cn) the centre of the clusters. FCM function in MATLAB
has been used for classification. The number of partitions
has been given (this example 3) and FCM find the three
cluster centres and three regions. FCM starts with an initial
guess for the cluster centres, which are intended to mark the
mean location of each cluster. Additionally, it assigns every
data point a membership grade for each cluster. By
iteratively updating the cluster centres and the membership
grades for each data point, it iteratively moves the cluster
centres to the right location within a data set. This iteration
is based on minimising an objective function that represents
the distance from any given data point to a cluster centre
Fig. 3 Overall schematic of implemented decentralised control weighted by that data point’s membership grade.
plan Fuzzy partitioning is carried out through an iterative
optimisation of the objective function shown above, with the
update of membership uij and the cluster centers Cj [21] by
The allocation procedure in this paper is done to find the
maximum load factor and in the procedure at each specific
load factor different configurations for location and size of uij =   2/(m−1) (8)
the STATCOM are tested. Based on this explanation, it is C
||x − C ||/||x − C ||
k=1 i j i k
shown that the STATCOM placement has a two layers
optimisation process. At top layer, finding the maximum N
load factor of the network is considered and at the lower i=1 um
ij xi
Cj = N (9)
layer in each specific load factor configurations are looked i=1 um
which satisfy our loadability constrains. If there is a
zero-fitness function with respect to the optimisation
This iteration will stop when maxij {|u(k+1)ij − u(k)
ij |} ,[,
constraints (bus voltage violation and branch loading in that
where ∈ is a termination criterion between 0 and 1, whereas
specific load factor) the load factor is increased to restart
k are the iteration steps. This procedure converges to a local
the searching again in new higher load factor.
minimum or a saddle point of Fm. The algorithm is
Based on these explanations, the overall schematic of
composed of the following steps:
implemented decentralised control is presented in Fig. 3.
The local STATCOM controller in each region is required
1. Initialise U = [uij ] matrix, U (0)
to improve voltage values when a disturbance occurs. The
2. At k-step: calculate the centres vectors C (k) = [cj] with U (k)
locations of these STATCOM controllers are determined
3. Update U (k), U (k + 1)
previously to maximise the power system loadability using
4. If if ||U (k + 1)–U (k)|| < ∈ then stop, otherwise return to
a GA-based optimisation method as presented in previous
step 2.
A number of tests have been performed using this
4 Partitioning algorithm algorithm with different number of regions. The number of
regions for IEEE 118-bus is considered as three. In IEEE
In this section, partitioning based on FCM is explained and 118-bus, there are 54 generators, 99 loads, 118 buses and
the method is applied to IEEE 118-bus. The results of this 186 branches. The power flow has been obtained with the
partitioning algorithm are compared by K-means and graph Matpower software [22]. Fig. 4 shows the result of
partitioning algorithms. partitioning with FCM algorithm.
In FCM partitioning, firstly a power flow is performed in
4.1 FCM partitioning algorithm regular situation where there is no any disturbances on the
loads. This extracts the voltage, phase angle, real power and
FCM is a method of clustering which permits a given data set reactive power values at all PV and PQ buses. Secondly,
to belong to two or more clusters [20, 21]. FCM is regularly contingency which is disturbances on the loads are applied
used in engineering clustering applications and is based on and another power flow is performed to obtain new values
minimisation of the following objective function for all buses. Consequently, the differences between the
values after the disturbances and under regular conditions

C are calculated using as input data for FCM algorithm. The
Fm = ij ||xi − Cj ||
um 2
1≤m,1 (7) contingencies used in that paper are a 20% disturbances on
i=1 j=1 buses 2, 12, 22, 32, 42, 52, 62, 72, 82, 92, 102 and 112 for
the first data inputs and then for the second date inputs,
where m is any real number greater than 1, uij is the degree of 20% disturbances on buses 3, 13, 23, 33, 43, 53, 63, 73,
membership of xi in the cluster j, xi is the ith of d-dimensional 83, 93, 103 and 113.

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Fig. 4 FCM partitioning (IEEE 118-bus)

Fig. 5 K-means partitioning (IEEE 118-bus)

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Initially, voltages of buses were considered as input data, 4.4 Partitioning algorithms comparison (IEEE
the result of partitioning was not satisfactory and some 118-bus)
obtained regions even were not connected physically. The
result of partitioning was not good because the voltage on To check the performance of the partitioning algorithm based on
PV buses always remains constant and they can not be a FCM, the results of this partitioning algorithm are compared by
good set of input data. Afterwards, phase angle were the graph partitioning algorithm [1] and k-means [11]. The
considered as inputs date because of their value changes for results show the effectiveness of these algorithms and
all buses in regular and contingency conditions. The input similarity of the obtained regions in Table 1. This table shows,
data are given to the FCM and the output of FCM is a buses are common in each region using different partitioning
number of clusters that contain buses with similar reaction
to disturbances. Table 1 Comparison between partition algorithms (IEEE
To check the robustness and performance of the 118-bus)
partitioning algorithm based on FCM for different operating
conditions, different tests have been performed. Firstly, IEEE 118-Bus Graph theory FCM clustering K-means
algorithm algorithm clustering
some of branches in regions have been opened to change algorithm
the network structure and see the result of partitioning. Region 1 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 ,14,15, 16,
Secondly, disturbances are applied (ramp up all system (common 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29,
loads simultaneously). The disturbances have been initiated buses) 30, 31, 32, 33, 113, 114, 115 and 117
at 5% and increased to 20%. The results of both tests show Region 1 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42
that the partitions stay approximately the same with some (uncommon and 43
minor changes near the boundaries of the regions. buses)
Region 2 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56,
(common 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69,
4.2 K-means partitioning algorithm buses) 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 116
and 118
Here, the result of the partitioning based on K-means Region2 34, 35, 36, 37, 82, 96, 97 and 82, 83, 96, 97
algorithm is shown in Fig. 5 for the IEEE 118-bus [11]. (uncommon 38, 39, 40, 41, 98 and 98
buses) 42 and 43
Region 3 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 99,
4.3 Graph partitioning algorithm (common 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105,106, 107, 108, 109,
buses) 110, 111 and 112
Here, the result of the graph partitioning algorithm is shown Region 3 82, 83, 96, 97 83
in Fig. 6 for the IEEE 118-bus based on graph theory (uncommon and 98
mentioned in [1]. buses)

Fig. 6 Graph partitioning (IEEE 118-bus)

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Table 2 Results of optimal placement of STATCOM controllers in different region of IEEE 118-bus test system

Region number Number of STATCOM Allocation process results λmax Loadability improvement, %
Locations Values, MVar
1 1 bus 23 − 95 1.02 2% (87 MW)
1 2 bus 30 − 90 1.05 5% (212 MW)
bus 38 − 97
2 1 bus 51 − 79 1.02 2% (87 MW)
2 2 bus 45 − 70 1.05 5% (212 MW)
bus 63 − 85
3 1 bus 94 − 95 1.02 2% (127 MW)
3 2 bus 93 − 95 1.04 4% (169 MW)
bus 97 − 78

algorithm and buses which belong to one region and does not implemented in different regions of IEEE 118-bus system to
belong to other regions (uncommon buses). maximise the power system loadability. During the
optimisation process, the optimisation algorithm (GA)
randomly selects the locations and values for all given
5 Simulation results STATCOM devices after setting them into the power
system at each generation. Then the loadability constraints
Based on the algorithm presented in Section 3, the allocation are verified for each individual to continue the algorithm
process for different number of STATCOM has been based on the step presented in previous section. Then in a

Fig. 7 Comparing the voltage level of buses in region 1 in presence of a 40% load demand for the network with and without STATCOM

Fig. 8 Comparing the voltage level of buses in region 1 in presence of a 40% load demand for the network with and without two STATCOM

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Fig. 9 Comparing the voltage level of buses in region 2 in presence of a 40% load demand for the network with and without STATCOM

Fig. 10 Comparing the voltage level of buses in region 1 in presence of a 40% load demand for the network with and without STATCOM

specific generation, the maximum system loadability (λmax) buses 30 and 38 as presented in Table 2. The results are
will be determined. Here, the optimal placement results for presented in Fig. 8.
different number of STATCOM are presented in Table 2. Fig. 9 shows the comparison of bus voltages of region 2 in
To verify the accuracy and effectiveness of the the network without controller with the network with one
decentralised control algorithm presented in Fig. 3, the STATCOM controller allocated in bus 51 with the rate of
disturbances are applied separately to each region of IEEE − 79 MVar. The rate of disturbance is 40% as it was used
118-bus test system to verify the robustness and for region 1. Similar to the results of region 1, this figure
performance of the purposed algorithm. shows the capability of optimal allocated STATCOM in
For the first simulations the load increasing disturbances keeping the voltage level of buses in acceptable ranges in
are applied into the load buses (PQ-buses) in region 1 load stress condition.
obtained by FCM algorithm presented in Table 1. Fig. 7 Finally, the 40% disturbance (load demand) is applied to
shows the voltage of buses in presence of 40% disturbance the loads in region 3. For this region, the STATCOM
applied to the load buses in region 1. This figure shows a controller is located in the bus 94 with the rate of − 95
comparison between the network without STATCOM MVar. The results are presented in Fig. 10. Similar to the
controller and the network with one STATCOM allocated previous results in this section, in the network without
in bus 23 with the rate of − 95 MVar as presented in STATCOM controller, there is more voltage drop in buses
Table 2. of region 3.
As it is clear from this figure, in the presence of disturbance
the voltage level of buses in region 1 have less voltage drop 6 Conclusion
with respect to the network without STATCOM controller.
Next, the 40% load demand is applied to the network with Voltage control of power systems is essential as they are
two STATCOM controllers allocated in region 1 in the operating closer to their limits. In this paper, firstly

1044 IET Gener. Transm. Distrib., 2013, Vol. 7, Iss. 9, pp. 1037–1045
& The Institution of Engineering and Technology 2013 doi: 10.1049/iet-gtd.2013.0042
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