Building Large-Scale U.S. Synthetic Electric Distribution System Models

Carlos Mateo, Fernando Postigo, Fernando de Cuadra, Tomás Gómez San Roman, Tarek Elgindy, Pablo Dueñas, Bri-Mathias Hodge, Venkat Krishnan, Bryan Palmintier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus Citations


Rapid increases in distributed energy resources on distribution systems are prompting research efforts to improve and evaluate electric power distribution algorithms; however, there is a shortage of realistic, large-scale, U.S.-style test systems for the evaluation of such advanced algorithms. Some available tools to build large-scale test systems are of European style, and their application to studies focused on the United States might not be desirable given very different characteristics between the European and U.S. distribution designs. Motivated by this need, this paper develops detailed algorithms to build large-scale U.S. distribution systems and incorporates them in a new Reference Network Model, RNM-US. The approach starts with information from street maps and a catalog with electric equipment that includes power lines, transformers, voltage regulators, capacitors, and switching devices. The paper presents the algorithms through an illustrative case study of the different steps that comprise the process of building a synthetic distribution grid. Finally, the paper presents a medium- and a large-scale data set covering 10 million electrical nodes and 120,000 km of power lines, demonstrating the applicability of the proposed method to build very large-scale synthetic distribution systems.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number9121324
Pages (from-to)5301-5313
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Smart Grid
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2010-2012 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5D00-73674


  • Distribution system
  • power flow
  • power system
  • power utility
  • reference network model
  • representative system
  • synthetic system
  • test feeder


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