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Help customers avoid or mitigate power factor surcharges

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Our latest Industry Trend Series event zeroed in on power factor

With an understanding of power factor, BC Hydro Alliance of Energy Professionals members can help their customers avoid or mitigate surcharges associated with it. Below are some of the highlights from our recent Industry Trend Series session on power factor in April.

The Industry Trend Series provides insights, expertise and networking opportunities for our members. So far, we've also covered lighting trends and LED safety. If you have an idea for a future topic, please send us an email, and look for news about our next event in September's Alliance newsletter.

Lighting retrofits can trigger power factor surcharges

When a lighting retrofit reduces the amount of real power (kW) required by the facility, while at the same time the amount of reactive power (kVAR) remains the same (no change in reactive loads such as motors and transformers), the facility's power factor will decrease. If the power factor decreases below 90%, it will result in a surcharge on your customer's bill.

Correction capacitors help you avoid surcharges

The power factor surcharge can be mitigated through the installation of power factor correction capacitors (PFCCs). PFCCs can be added in fixed units or in an automatic PFCC bank, depending on the customer's load. If the facility load is highly variable throughout the day, then an automatic PFCC bank may be a better solution.

PFCCs can create harmonic resonance, excessive voltage

All electrical systems will have a natural resonant frequency point, depending on the combination of resistive, inductive and capacitive loads. Every facility will have harmonic producing equipment from sources such as computer power supplies and variable frequency drives. If the harmonic currents prevalent in the system coincide with the resonant frequency point, then the harmonic currents can be greatly magnified. This may cause PFCC failure and damage to other equipment in your facility.

PFCCs may result in excessive voltage rise in the system especially during periods of low load as the amount of voltage rise is related to amount of PFCC added. Excessive voltage rise can result in damage to electrical equipment in the customer's facility.

Learn more about power factor and your bill.