Communications for Power System Protection, Automation, and Smart Grid Technology


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Course Overview

The advent of the Smart Grid brings benefits and challenges to the utility industry, and its impact on power system communications is notable. Learn the requirements placed on the substation communication system to meet the concurrent demands for protection, automation, and Smart Grid implementation. Course presentations will include a detailed review of ongoing work on the development of Smart Grid interface standards under the aegis of IEEE, NIST, and NERC.

Who Should Attend?

Those involved with substation communications and automation, as well as smart grid implementation, will likely benefit most from this course, including:

  • Substation design and operations engineers 
  • Technicians 
  • Electric utility engineers

Additional Information

This course also includes a hands-on networking workshop connecting multi-vendor devices and YOUR laptop over a local area network (LAN) through the IEC 61850 protocol.

You will learn how to:

  • Set up a relay network
  • Read values from standard IEC 61850 data objects
  • Display the data in an Excel spreadsheet
  • Implement relay-to-relay communications via IEC GOOSE
  • Capture and analyze network data packets.

Bring your laptop to this course. Software programs to be installed on the laptop will be shared with attendees at least two weeks before the course begins.

Course Outline

Analog Communications Fundamentals

  • AM, FM, PM
  • Generation and detection
  • Performance comparisons

Digital Communications Fundamentals

  • Sampling theory
  • Quantization
  • Encoding
  • Framing multi-channels
  • Synchronous optical network (SONET)

Fiber Optic Communication Theory and Application

  • Fiber optic basics
  • Fiber types (multi-mode, single mode)
  • System components (sources, detectors, connectors)
  • System design (architecture, loss calculations)
  • Utility applications
  • New technology and standards (WDM, PMD)

Problem Session

Fundamentals of Power Line Carrier

  • Basic System
  • System components
  • Coupling Systems
  • Modal analysis
  • Performance calculations

Spread Spectrum Communications

  • Basic system
  • System components
  • Relaying considerations
  • Control considerations

WAN Ethernet Transport

  • MPLS
  • Carrier ethernet
  • Comparisons and impact on power system critical communications

Special Communication Requirements of Protective Relaying

  • Dependability
  • Security
  • Channel delay effects
  • Modes of operation
  • Channel arrangements
  • Comments on audio tone protection

Problem Session

Serial Data Communication

  • Basic concepts
  • Data encoding formats
  • RS-232
  • RS-422
  • G-703

Data Networks

  • Network concepts and devices
  • OSI seven layer model
  • Substation LAN architectures
  • Network synchronization


  • Physical connections
  • Data frames
  • Collision and retransmission mechanisms
  • Bridging

Time Synchronization

  • Time synchronization sources (GPS)
  • IRIG-B
  • IEEE 1588 


  • TCP/IP
  • ModBus
  • DNP
  • DDE and OPC

Smart Grid Protocols and Standards

  • Architecture development concepts
  • Overview of Sequence of Events Standard
  • Overview of the IEEE Standard for Time Sequence Files
  • Review of the NERC Standard for Event, Fault, and Dynamic Recording

61850 Network Communications Systems

  • Abstract service models
  • Logical node concept
  • Internet-based communication
  • The IEC 61850 security model
  • Peer-to-peer communications (GOOSE)
  • Substation Configuration Language-SCL
  • Integration system examples
  • Routable GOOSE/SV (sample values)
  • Industry case studies

User Considerations for IEC 61850

  • What does IEC 61850 do for the user?
  • Essential steps for the effective use of IEC 61850

Configuring a Local Area Network in a Substation

  • Bring your laptop (see the note under Hands-on Networking Session for details)

DNP3 and Applications

  • DNP3 history, benefits and capabilities
  • Overview of DNP3 object libraries
  • Discussion of various DNP2 polling schemes
  • Demonstration of DNP3
  • Future enhancements 

Electronic Security of Remotely Accessible Control and Protection Equipment

  • Threats
  • Vulnerabilities
  • Attack scenarios
  • TCP/IP network scanner
  • SCADA protocol reconnaissance
  • Electronic attack barriers
  • NERC Critical Infrastructure Protection Standards (CIPS)
  • Requirements of IEEE 1686
  • Substation IEDs’ level of compliance

Network Security

  • Security management (access, detection)
  • Security building blocks (encryption, hash algorithms)
  • Transport layer security (TLS/SSH)
  • Internet protocol security (IPSec)
  • Firewalls and gateways

Communications Technologies Enabling a Smart Grid

  • End user (Zigbee, BPL)
  • Network access (modems, xDSL, FTTx, wireless)
  • Substation access (IEEE C37.94)
  • Wide area networks (IP, SONET, Ethernet, MPLS)
  • Integration of communications systems 


"I came with very little communications knowledge and how it related to system control; I left with a much better understanding of the interrelationship."

"This is my third course with the University of Wisconsin–Madison, I am never disappointed. Keep on with your excellent work!"

"I came with very little communications knowledge and how it related to system control; I left with a much better understanding of the interrelationship."

"Gary Michel is very knowledgeable and makes a well-organized presentation."

"Mark Adamiak makes a very good presentation. He has a very good ability to transmit understanding of the topic."

"I am basically a relay person in an electric utility. Communication means have become very important in relaying and data acquisition. I came to learn more about the substance of communications and that is exactly what I learned."

"I enjoyed Ken Fodero's part. It was interesting, not too short, not too long, and had good information. He provided solution possibilities, which is a good future resource."

"Miriam did a great job presenting her topics in particular, PLC (this is a very complicated subject that she made simple to understand)."


Mark Adamiak

Mark G. Adamiak, is the founder of Adamiak Consulting. He was the Chief Application Architect at GE Multilin in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and previously worked for GE Power Management’s System Integration group, where he was responsible for developing and implementing utility integration solutions around the world, and the American Electric Power Service Corporation (AEP) in the System Protection and Control section, where his assignments included R&D in Digital Protection and Control, relay and fault analysis, and system responsibility for Power Line Carrier and Fault Recorders. Adamiak received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cornell University in Electrical Engineering, and a master’s degree from the Polytechnic Institute of New York.

Shalini Bhat

Shalini Bhat, PE, is a program director at the Office of Interdisciplinary Professional Programs at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. She has over 15 years of experience in the power industry. Previously, she has worked at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and Cooper Power Systems. Most recently, she was a Senior Distribution Protection Engineer for seven years at WE Energies in Wisconsin.

Michael Dood

Michael J. Dood earned his BS in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Technological University. He was employed by Wisconsin Electric Power Company (WEPCo), where he was a Senior Engineer in the Distribution Automation Group. At Wisconsin Electric his responsibilities included substation automation design and implementation, distribution automation, and SCADA. He also has over 15 years of experience in substation design and project management. In June 1998 he took a position at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) and is currently a Principal Engineer. His responsibilities include training and assisting SEL customers in their substation integration and automation efforts. Mr. Dood is a registered professional engineer in the state of Wisconsin. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and is very active in the PES Communications and Cybersecurity Committee.

Kenneth Fodero

Kenneth Fodero is the Communications Development Manager at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Orlando, Florida. Before coming to SEL, he was a product manager at Pulsar Technology for four years in Coral Springs, Florida. Prior to Pulsar, Fodero worked at RFL Electronics for 15 years. His last position there was Director of Product Planning. He has also worked for Westinghouse Electric–now ABB–as a Relay System Technician. Fodero is the current chairman of the Communications Subcommittee, Power System Relaying Committee of the IEEE Power Engineering Society. He graduated from RETS in New Jersey as an Electronic Technologist.

Gary Michel

Gary L. Michel is the president of Power System Consulting in Hialeah, Florida. Michel has over 20 years of protective relaying experience with Florida Power and Light Company (FPL), where he was Principal Engineer and managed 10 engineers in the Relay Design Section of General Engineering.

Prior to his work at FPL, Michel was Communications Design Engineer at Motorola Corporation and Computer Design Engineer at RCA Corporation. Michel received his BSEE Cum Laude with EE Honors at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL.

He has a MBA from the Florida International University, Miami, FL. Michel is a graduate and class President of the Westinghouse Advanced Power Systems Course affiliated with Penn State University.

Miriam Sanders

Miriam P. Sanders, P.E., is a Senior Application Engineer at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Asheville, North Carolina. Previously, she was a Principal Advisor with Quanta Technology, LLC. With over 30 years of experience in the relay industry, Miriam has worked with protection channels, transmission pilot relays, and distribution relays. Her career started in the Westinghouse Relay Division in Coral Springs, which later became ABB. She returned to North Carolina in 1990 to work as a consultant with Booth and Associates, specializing in substation relaying. After returning to ABB at the Transmission Technology Institute in Raleigh, Miriam went to Allentown to work as an application engineer, concentrating on the DPU-2000 Distribution relay introduction and the development on the TPU Transformer Protection relay. In February 1994, she returned to Coral Springs as Product Manager for Power Line Carrier for ABB. As one of the founding stockholders of PULSAR Technologiess, she continued as Product Manager for the Power Line Carrier products prior to its sale in 2006 to AMETEK Power Instruments, where she continued the role as Product Manager for the PLC products. She has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Upcoming dates (0)

Take this course when it’s offered next!

Program Director

Shalini Bhat

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