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Research Activities

Research Opportunities and Partnerships

  • Penetration Testing for Telemetry and SCADA Networks
  • Substation Threat Resistant Networking
  • Disruption of Simulated Power Grids
  • Phasor Measurement Units (Synchrophasors)
  • GPS Clock Drift
  • Resiliency to Cyber Threats
  • Power Grid Cascading Failure
  • Local Industry Cyber Security Assessments

CLICS LAB: Power Grid Simulation


Boise State University worked with Schweitzer Engineering Labs (SEL) to obtain a variety of power system protection relays. Boise State University coupled the SEL equipment with a Real Time Digital Simulator(RTDS) to simulate a power grid control center.

This system will be used for future power and cyber security classes.


System Control

The Power Lab Simulator is located behind our Enterprise Server. This server houses our VPN and all user profiles. To access the system, one must first be approved by the school for VPN access, to remotely access the system.

System Communication

Our grid simulator uses three means of communication: Radio, Ethernet, and a Software Defined Network. From a cyber security aspect, this provides many avenues of attack due to the vulnerabilities of each communication type.

Power Grid

The grid simulation sends simulated voltage and current from the RTDS to four SEL relays. These relays monitor and control the flow of electricity by communicating with simulated breakers in the RTDS.


The simulator is monitored by SEL software located in the Real Time Automation Controller. This allows for monitoring and control of the system as well as recording of fault data.

Design of a Power Grid Simulator

SEL and RTDS Eauipment

SEL and RTDS Equipment

Four Relay Test System

Our system was designed with direction from Idaho Power Senior Engineer Andres Valdepena. The goal was to build a realistic system which could be simulated in the RTDS and monitored through an HMI. Using the RTDS to power the relays, we programed the relays to display the correct current. The relays’ fault trip scheme was then coordinated to maximize the power delivered. Meaning a downstream relay would not cause and unnecessary trip of an upstream relay. This was tested by simulating fault conditions with the RTDS.

The SEL equipment was programed to reclose if possible. To accomplish this, the relays were programed to check if the fault condition had cleared. When the voltage and frequency returned to normal the relay would reclose to the grid. If the current did not go over the programed limit again, the breaker would stay closed in, otherwise the relay would open the breaker and try again. The relays attempt to reclose three times, then lock out.

SEL Fault Analysis

The SEL relays record real time data four times per cycle. This data can be analyzed when a fault occurs. In the image below we simulated a temporary short on the A-phase. The current spikes for nine cycles, then returns to normal operating conditions.

SEL Fault Ananysis