Regulatory Approaches to Reliable Electricity Grids in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Authors are: Al-Barrak, Shareef; Al-Dahmashi, Nasser; Al-Jabri, Fayez

The Electricity & Co-Generation Regulatory Authority (ECRA) for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has conducted a review of the reliability of the distribution networks. The review has been commissioned by ECRA in collaboration with the major service provider following a number of incidents across parts of the network that have generally been considered to reflect poor overall performance. In addition to that, ECRA has noted from the System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) and System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) data provided that the distribution network performance is variable, with the poorest performance exhibited in areas which are serviced by less secure networks.

This paper focuses on the key points from the benchmarking, KPIs analysis and presents a detailed electrical Network Reliability Improvement Plan (NRIP) focusing on the regulatory measures that enable ECRA and service providers to drive system improvement measures.

The approach taken has been to identify the key areas for improvement which will give the greatest return in improvement terms. In other countries where the performance of the network is significantly better than it is in the KSA, the potential to continue to improve reliability reduces, with the costs increasing significantly and the incremental benefits reducing. An example of this is with system automation, where having to provide remote switching facilities at ground mounted substations becomes expensive. The approach ECRA is recommending is to address the causes of the underground and overhead lines interruptions and eliminate them as much as possible. Once the performance improves with the recommended initiatives of NRIP, then applying automation or remote control in some areas, particularly the main city centres and business districts.

The longer term reliability of the KSA system will be improved to reach the approved short term target (SAIDI=150 min and SAIFI=2 per year), through the NRIP recommendations.

Winner #1 of the 2016 ERRA Regulatory Research Award.


Electricity and Co-Generation Regulatory Authority (ECRA)

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  key performance indicators     KPI     SAIDI     SAIFI