Application of motor capacitors to improve facility power usage in the industrial setting
Hillhouse, William Jeffrey
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As deregulation of the electric power system in the United States unfolds, many customers are experiencing changes in their billing rate structure. Some face the addition of power factor penalty tariffs, and seek ways to minimize the added burden. The installation of entrance capacitor banks is the common response, but fails to take complete advantage of capacitor abilities. Other project designs exist that can harness these advantages to the full benefit of the customer. This work will show that distributing shunt capacitors in parallel with induction motors will elevate power factor and voltage, and also decrease ohmic losses in the wiring and protection devices that supply the motor. This reduction often produces a better overall economic solution due to energy savings. The distribution of capacitors at induction motors reduces the reactive current in the branch of the distribution system that supplies them. A reduction in the total current flowing to the motor along the distribution system results in smaller losses throughout the system. As losses diminish, the total real power drawn through the distribution system is lessened, and electric bills are reduced. This alternative to entrance capacitor banks is not as commonly implemented. A misconception that the resistance in facility distribution systems is relatively low has discouraged distributed motor capacitor installation for overall facility power factor correction, in favor of entrance capacitor banks. We will show that the resistance in the distribution system is higher than typically thought, that motor capacitors can exploit this fact, and can often economically outperform entrance capacitor banks which are terminated at the point of incoming utility power. Motor capacitors are not a new technology. They are commercially available off the shelf technology, suitable for power factor correction for induction motors. Distributed capacitors can be utilized for all significantly sized induction motors in a facility. The elevation in power factor and voltage, reduction in reactive current and real power are calculated, and trends are observed. The matter is considered from both the standpoint of engineering and economics to provide an integrated study.