James Wolf

James Wolf



James Wolf is the Advanced Transmission Technology (ATT) Team Manager in the Advanced Transmission Studies and Technology (ATST) department at American Electric Power (AEP). The role of James and ATT within AEP Transmission is to provide a strategic, transparent, and unified direction for the pursuit of new technology and research while focusing on efficient and accountable implementation. James’ team is currently at the onset of executing AEP Transmission’s Project Cortex, an effort to shape the Digital Substation of the Future with breakthrough technology that focuses on maximizing the value of sampled real-time data that is captured and processed at a substation.

James has over a decade of engineering experiences including substation design, commercial consulting for building design and construction, and product manufacturing. Prior to joining the ATT team, James has been a member of AEP Transmission’s Protection and Control team in both design and leadership roles.

James has a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from The Ohio State University and an MBA from Ohio Dominican University. James is also a registered professional engineer (PE) in the State of Ohio.



The Substation Cortex: An Alternative Digital Substation Solution:

Since the end of the 2000s, American Electric Power (AEP) has deployed and evaluated fiber optic-based digital substation technologies employing the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61850 standard defining communication protocols for intelligent electronic devices at electrical substations. The intent of these evaluations has been to learn about the technology and manufacturer capabilities, while also making a fair and unbiased comparison of this technology to traditional hard-wired copper protection and control installations using the latest microprocessor-based Intelligent Electronics Devices (IEDs). AEP’s deployments, including a 100% fiber-optic communication based distribution station put in-service in 2016, have given insights to the opportunities that can be seized by pushing the boundaries of available technology to re-evaluate traditionally accepted methods of practice.

In this report, AEP will outline its cross-cutting  plans for its next fiber optic-based digital substation, which will attempt to merge existing commercially available technologies employing point to multi-point fiber optic-based communications and switched Ethernet substation communications, with the concept of Centralized Protection and Control (CPC), a concept that was explored and presented by an IEEE PES Power System Relaying Committee working group in 2015. AEP will outline the business drivers behind their proposed implementation, a high-level scope of work, expected capabilities for the technology, and anticipated hurdles and risks.


Ultimately, the purpose of this report is to trigger interest and discussion in our industry, among academia, traditional and non-traditional vendors, and utilities. There will be many design, implementation, and operational considerations that will come with a system like the one being proposed, and AEP hopes to learn and receive guidance from its industry peers as it moves forward.