May/June 2010

Fossil fuels committee firing up

By Ellen Fussell Policastro

When it comes to electric power generation, fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and petroleum) play a critical role in the industry. With these resources in such abundance in the U.S., it is important to have specialists at the helm-writing standards and regulations for safe process and generation of these resources.

ISA's Power Division (POWID) serves a key role in developing automation standards for use in fossil power plants. POWID members are qualified representatives of the industries' leading technical professionals.

ISA's fossil power-plant standards committee, ISA77, provides oversight, review, and approval for ISA standards and technical reports associated with fossil power plants.  

With 45 members, the committee represents a broad consensus of all the stakeholders of the national/international power utility industry. Each committee is not only responsible for the development of industry standards, recommended practices, and technical reports, but they also support the orderly reaffirmation of these standards every five years.

Industry benefits

ISA77 documents provide industry practitioners a resource for definitions, measurement requirements, minimum design requirements, other references, and practical industry principles and applications practices. The series of documents are intended to cover the common applications within a plant-generation station. Based on industry interest, the ISA77 Fossil Power Plant committee solicited and formed a subcommittee to draft a new document on plant automation. The purpose of this document is to provide guidance on higher level power-plant automation, such as start/stop sequencing with an objective to review the control design and documentation methodologies currently in use, and present sample designs for the higher level automation of a few systems.

Initial efforts focused on reviewing the current methodologies, including existing standards. This served the dual purpose of assessing these programming and documentation methodologies while preventing unnecessary duplication.

Experts on power

As power experts, committee members address current industry-related technical topics, such as performance of process control systems, smart-grid impact on power generation, and current activities of other committees (NFPA, ISA, and IEC, to name a few).

Dialog between experts of different backgrounds is instrumental when developing and applying technology advancements. That is why the committee also provides liaison support to other ISA committees and professional societies. Offering numerous comments to ISA-TR84.00.05, Guidance on the Identification of Safety Instrumented Functions in Burner Management Systems, is one example. In support of ISA-TR84.00.05, members of both met to discuss and resolve the comments.

With the aging workforce retiring or about to retire, industry is looking for means and sources to train new hires in the field of power plant instrument and controls. The fossil fuel standards also serve as a reference source for ISA's Boiler Control training courses. The standards are one source from which an individual can learn the minimum requirement for power plant controls. Appendix information provides useful basic process control information or historical reasons for current engineering practices.

Developing committees

The ISA77 Fossil Power Plant standards committee developed its first standard in 1987 for feedwater control (drum type). Since then, the committee has developed and maintains 11 standards, recommended practices, and technical reports, and it is currently reaffirming four of these documents with 2005 revision dates.

The committee is also developing five new draft standards or reports for public balloting. These documents address steam turbine controls, plant automation, functional diagramming, SCR controls, and tracking and controlling instrument documentation. Current standards, drafts, and those in reaffirmation, include:

  • ISA-77.13 R2008 Turbine Steam Bypass Systems, Jeff Schleis (Chair)
  • ISA-77.14.01 (Draft) Steam Turbine Controls, Jeff Schleis (Chair)
  • ISA-77.20.01 R2005 Fossil Power Plant Simulators, Alex Lekich (Chair)
  • ISA-77.22.01 (Draft) Power Plant Automation, Henrik Johansen (Chair)
  • ISA-TR77.40.01 (Draft) Functional Diagramming, Daniel Lee (Chair)
  • ISA-77.41.01 R2005 Boiler Combustion Controls, Gordon McFarland (Chair)
  • ISA-77.42.01 R2006 Feedwater Control - Drum Type, Gordon McFarland (Chair)
  • ISA-TR77.42.02 R2009 Feedwater Controls-Drum Level Measurement, Jerry Gilman (Chair)
  • ISA-77.43.01 R2008 Unit Plant Demand Development, Cyrus Taft (Chair)
  • ISA-77.44.01 R2007 Steam Temperature Controls, Daniel Lee (Chair)
  • ISA-77.60.02 R2005 Alarms, Robert Hubby (Chair)
  • ISA-77.60.04 R2008 CRT Displays, Robert Hubby (Chair)
  • ISA-RP77.60.05 R2007 Task Analysis, Robert Hubby (Chair)
  • ISA-77.70 R2005 - Instrument Piping Standards, Gooray Mookerjee (Chair)
  • ISA-TR77.70.01 (Draft) Tracking and Controlling Instrument Documentation in Fossil Power Plants, Jody Damron (Chair)
  • ISA-77.82.01 (Draft) Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) Control Systems, Cyrus Taft (Chair)

To contribute your knowledge and experience to the ISA77 committee development effort (and gain from the knowledge and experience of your professional colleagues), contact ISA77 co-chairs Robert Hubby ( or Daniel Lee ( Find more ISA77 information at


Ellen Fussell Policastro ( is a standards administrator at ISA.