Historic events such as the Northeast Blackout of 2003 emphasize the importance of keeping our power grid and its backup systems running 100 percent of the time.

A series of failures at power utilities in the region triggered the event, the second most widespread in history, which brought eight U.S. states and parts of Ontario, Canada, to a standstill anywhere from hours to days.

In a move to prevent another regional blackout of that scale, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) now regulates bulk power systems. The not-for-profit regulatory organization, which oversees the United States, Canada and Northern Baja California, Mexico, ensures reliability of power utilities by developing and enforcing maintenance and monitoring standards.

One of those standards is PRC-005-6, Protection System Maintenance. The U.S. Government, as a way to ensure that utilities were taking measures and paying attention to their systems, established the PRC-005-6 Protection System Maintenance Program (PSMP).

One of the components of PRC-005-6 is assessing the reliability of batteries used in the utility industry. Among other things, the requirement dictates four- six- and 18-month maintenance plans for VLA, VRLA and NiCad batteries.

Ideally, the expectation for reliability is 100 percent for battery banks used by utility companies. Real-life, however, adjusts that expectation closer to 90 percent. The important thing is that through regulation, guidelines are in place to ensure battery banks do their job when needed.

NERC educates, trains and certifies industry personnel for system awareness. To assure that utilities are in compliance, NERC employs government inspectors to visit utilities. Utility companies are appointing internal NERC compliance officers to further guarantee they are following the guidelines.

In addition to maintenance, monitoring and testing of batteries, utilities are also required to keep records of this maintenance for possible inspection should it be requested by the government. This is to ensure there is a plan and it is being followed.

While this may seem daunting to power utility companies, Franklin Electric has taken the PRC-005-6 tables and developed a solution to meet each requirement to help its customers come up with a compliant maintenance plan for their battery systems as well as provide automated analysis of their test data to provide early warnings for potential failures. 

Franklin Electric Grid Solutions provides the needed hardware to help meet each customer's NERC PRC-005-6 battery maintenance plan. From hand held battery testers to fully automated battery monitoring solutions. Along with hardware, Franklin Electric Grid Solutions provides software to bring the total solution together. Midtronics can take battery test data from hand held battery testers and/or battery monitoring systems and provide automatic analysis of test data, alarming and data retention to ensure your critical power systems can Franklin Electric experts work with customers to develop and implement NERC PRC-005-6 compliant plans assuring batteries perform as expected and when needed and avoid hefty fines for failure to comply.