Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid, Solar

POWERGRID International Projects of the Year

Issue 3 and Volume 20.

by Kristen Wright, Senior Editor

The editors of POWERGRID International magazine-the official publication of DistribuTECH Conference & Exhibition-and parent company PennWell Corp. recently announced winners of the magazine’s annual electric utility Projects of the Year.

POWERGRID International Editor in Chief Teresa Hansen announced the four winners live Monday, Feb. 2 during the Electric Light & Power and POWERGRID International Annual Awards Dinner in San Diego.

The event kicked off the world’s No. 1 annual electric transmission and distribution show, DistribuTECH Conference & Exhibition, and wrapped up its sister show, the Electric Light & Power Executive Conference.

“We had to find a substantially larger venue this year because so many people wanted tickets,” Hansen said. “The world as we know it wouldn’t function without the electric power industry, and our award winners represent some of the hardest-working and brightest people in the business, from engineers to CEOs. Even the crowd at the awards dinner is the best of the best.”

Smart Grid

Hansen presented Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) with the 2015 Smart Grid Project of the Year award for its Deploying Enterprise-scale Software Solutions With Clear Value program.

Customer Engagement Project of the Year award to Michael Butts and Cathy Stryjewski of Baltimore Gas & Electric.
Powergrid International Editor in Chief Teresa Hansen presents the Customer Engagement Project of the Year award to Michael Butts and Cathy Stryjewski of Baltimore Gas & Electric.

In 2012, BGE began installation of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI).

To address energy theft and meter malfunction, BGE selected C3 Energy’s Software-as-a-Service solutions.

In just six months, BGE deployed C3 AMI Operations and C3 Revenue protection across all 2 million meters in its service territory.

The two software applications went live in May 2014.

BGE deployed advanced operations and revenue protection data analytics software from C3 Energy on all 2 million meters
BGE deployed advanced operations and revenue protection data analytics software from C3 Energy on all 2 million meters. Within 90 days of operation, the revenue protection software generated more than 14,000 high-confidence fraud leads, and the utility has confirmed that more than 80 percent are theft or meter malfunctions.

The first three implementation phases were completed in three months. The team defined the data requirements, mapped BGE data to C3 Energy’s canonical data model, designed the integration architecture and established secure file and message transfer channels.

C3 and BGE configured the analytics and user interface to ensure the software’s out-of-the-box functionality addressed business needs. Forty-two data integrations spanned 12 source systems, including headend, meter data management system, customer information system, work management, enterprise asset management, outage management system, geographic information system, CMS and meter installation vendor systems.

“The following 16 weeks were dedicated to rigorous testing to cover data validation, analytic algorithm unit tests, user interface testing, and end-to-end performance tests,” said Jessica Reiter, chief marketing officer at C3 Energy. “The team replicated the ‘day in the life’ to prove that the software could handle the frequency and volume of data.

“During the initial data load, the team extracted, transformed and loaded two years of data, or 35 billion rows, into a 10-terabyte cloud image at processing speeds reaching 6.5 billion rows per hour. C3 Energy now processes data both as daily batch files and near real-time messages. Every day, BGE sends an additional 8 gigabytes of data from source systems.”

Within 90 days of operation, C3 Revenue Protection generated more than 14,000 high-confidence fraud leads, and the utility has confirmed through field investigations that more than 80 percent of leads are actual theft or meter malfunctions.

McKinsey and Co. estimates BGE is on target to deliver $20 million a year in economic benefits as a result of the two applications.

Runner-up. The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) is runner-up to the Smart Grid Project of the Year for its new control center.

The New York Independent System Operator won runner-up to the Smart Grid Project of the Year for its new $38 million, 64,000-square-foot control center that houses North America's largest video display of an electric system operations area.
The New York Independent System Operator won runner-up to the Smart Grid Project of the Year for its new $38 million, 64,000-square-foot control center that houses North America’s largest video display of an electric system operations area.

The project began as a leak repair above a computer bank in the NYISO’s 44-year-old power control center, but a cost-benefit analysis didn’t support making the repairs.

Instead, construction on the $38 million, 64,000-square-foot new control center began in September 2011, and the control center went live in December 2013. The center houses North America’s largest video display of an electric system operations area: a 2,300-square-foot video wall of 100 80-inch diagonal LED screens stacked 25 wide by four high. The wall displays a digital version of the state’s electric grid and provides more than 3,000 live status points that offer vital operations data such as line flows, line limits, transformer loading, voltages and generator output. System conditions are relayed at six-second intervals to operators in the control center.

“In addition to the electric system topology of the New York Control Area (NYCA), the video wall includes two bordering, customizable screen arrays that display radar weather maps, graphics’ illustrating forecast and actual wind generation, wind project location and real-time generation, zonal wholesale energy prices in New York and neighboring control areas, natural gas pipelines, phasor measurement unit (PMU) data, NYCA load data and a Situational Awareness for NERC Reliability (SAFNR) data map,” said David Flanagan, media relations manager at NYISO.

The NYISO is working with other grid operators to connect upgraded sensor networks installed as part of the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Smart Grid Investment Grant with a specific goal: to avoid disruptions like the 1965 and 2003 Northeastern blackouts, whose impacts could have been reduced significantly had modern grid-monitoring technology been available.

The NYISO expressed special thanks to: Woodward, Connor, Gillies & Seleman; EYP Mission Critical Facilities Inc.; U.W. Marx Construction Co.; Mitsubishi; and Activu Corp. for their contributions to the project.

Customer Engagement

Powergrid International Editor in Chief Teresa Hansen presents the Customer Engagement Project of the Year award to Charles Walls, vice president of customer revenue assurance at ComEd.
Powergrid International Editor in Chief Teresa Hansen presents the Customer Engagement Project of the Year award to Charles Walls, vice president of customer revenue assurance at ComEd.

Commonwealth Edison Co. (ComEd) took first place in the Customer Engagement Project of the Year category for its ComEd Bill Transformation.

In May 2012, ComEd formed a team to move the utility from worst to first in time for the 2016 J.D. Power Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction survey.

A large part of that initiative was the ComEd Residential Bill Transformation.

Until March 2014, the utility was sending some 3.5 million monthly residential bills formatted to satisfy regulatory requirements, collect revenue and minimize print costs. ComEd’s billing model had remained largely the same since 1998, so paper bills were the only touch point for about two-thirds of customers. Customers reported on surveys and during calls that the bill was confusing, difficult to understand and lacked insight to the implications of competitive supply.

In February 2013, a subteam decided to transform the bill into a communication tool. The following allowed maximum customer engagement, according to ComEd:

  • Crowdsourcing. ComEd invited customers to participate and track progress through tools and updates on www.comed.com/testkitchen. Banners throughout www.comed.com provided exposure to some 800,000 viewers monthly.
  • Heat map. Using a 10- to 30-second Qualtrics survey, ComEd showed an image of its existing bill and asked customers to click up to 10 items they found valuable. Aggregated clicks displayed as hot zones on an image of the bill and gave the ComEd team insight on prioritization. The survey also included an opportunity for verbatim comments.
  • Bill Builder. ComEd contracted with Ajenda Interactive Media to create and deploy the Bill Builder, a Web-based interactive tool that let users create conceptual bills by changing component location, adding graphics and color, and including more information.
  • Facebook app. Within its existing Facebook page, ComEd provided a blog-style app in which viewers could like, provide a one-line recommendation or type a list of requirements.
  • Driving traffic. Regular posts to Facebook followers, tweets, press releases, communications to newsletter subscribers and employee announcements generated feedback traffic.
  • CrowdSPRING. Between May and August 2013, the team collected and analyzed 816 survey results and 274 verbatim comments and generated more than 51,000 social media reaches with 13 publications. With the feedback, ComEd created a design brief used by an online open community of more than 140,000 designers who competed for $5,000 in awards. The result was 280 bill designs. Customers could view and rate entries to determine winners and provide four designs for marketing research.
  • Invoke. Invoke’s digital marketing research platform allowed 75 representative customers to generate more than 8,000 data points in one hour. Participant reactions were viewed in real time, allowing for clarification and probing during the study. This research proved concept for the top three designs and pointed out the shortcomings of each.
  • Slalom Consulting. ComEd partnered with Slalom to aggregate the most favorable aspects of all three designs into a final while ensuring the aggregated design worked with ComEd’s systems and print vendor TransCentra.
  • Qualtrics. More than 1,000 customers were used to validate the final design. They recently were sampled again to ensure initial findings were repeatable and sustainable.
  • External stakeholder outreach. ComEd engaged with its regulators, citizens’ advocacy groups, retail electric supply associations and the city of Chicago to provide transparency and an opportunity for feedback. This outreach enabled the bill transformation without external stakeholder objection.
  • Employees. ComEd included employees in all communications and sent a personalized letter to each employee that requested his or her participation as an ambassador of the bill transformation.

The design was implemented for about $400,000. In the most recent J.D. Power results, the ComEd Billing and Payment score jumped from about 700 to 722.

Runner-up. Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is runner-up to the Customer Engagement Project of the Year for its SmartSacramento Energy Insights Pilots.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) won runner-up to the Customer Engagement Project of the Year for its SmartSacramento Energy Insights Pilots
Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) won runner-up to the Customer Engagement Project of the Year for its SmartSacramento Energy Insights Pilots. The project was one of the most comprehensive smart grid rollouts in the U.S. with 51 integrated projects and a $307.7 million investment. Customer buy-in was a must.

SMUD began with employee education and engagement before it began engaging customers about the pilots, which included: free borrowed ZigBee-connected in-home displays; an electric vehicle demand response program; and a smart thermostat demand response pilot.

SMUD received a DOE Smart Grid Investment Grant in 2009 to help fund SmartSacramento. The project was one of the most comprehensive smart grid rollouts in the U.S. with 51 integrated projects and a $307.7 million investment.

The goal was to establish smart grid infrastructure and begin building out the extended smart grid capabilities to better serve customers. The project required engagement at every stage.

“Customer engagement begins with employee engagement,” said Vicky Zavattero, manager of energy research and development and smart grid at SMUD. “Rather than simply launching a customer campaign, we integrated the project across the business to ensure messages delivered to customers were unified, trusted, consistent and informative.”

Then, the utility engaged customers as partners with a shared goal to modernize and improve grid efficiency. That included training staff on equipment, goals, processes and customer benefits. SMUD also encouraged behavioral change in customers regarding how to use emerging technologies, read consumption data and respond to dynamic rates. The utility built up the benefits of customers’ being able to proactively manage their energy use and touted smart thermostats, in-home displays, electric vehicle supply equipment, commercial energy management systems, online usage graphs and dynamic pricing. To address any communication gaps with customers, SMUD used Facebook, YouTube, text messaging and even Pinterest. In addition, SMUD created detailed, easy to understand user manuals and customer-facing support materials that filled voids left by manufacturers’ instructions. These were in addition to program brochures, welcome kits, instructional videos and individual training delivered during installation.

Demand Response / Energy Efficiency

Powergrid International Editor in Chief Teresa Hansen presents the Demand Response/Energy Efficiency Project of the Year award to NV Energy's Michael Brown, middle, and Van Johnson.
Powergrid International Editor in Chief Teresa Hansen presents the Demand Response/Energy Efficiency Project of the Year award to NV Energy’s Michael Brown, middle, and Van Johnson.

NV Energy was named the Demand Response/Energy Efficiency Project of the Year winner for its mPowered Home Energy Management program. The utility gave special thanks to EcoFactor, Alstom Grid, Scope Services, Mad Dash Filed Services and Active TeleSource.

NV Energy's mPowered provides free thermostats, professional installation, remote access and energy efficiency service to customers in return for demand response participation.
NV Energy’s mPowered provides free thermostats, professional installation, remote access and energy efficiency service to customers in return for demand response participation. Customers also receive a rebate for individual event participation. More than 23,000 customers are participating, and more than 35,000 thermostats have been installed.

NV Energy’s mPowered has been one of the most successful commercial-scale, residential integrated demand-side management programs in the country. The utility’s customer acquisition model provides free thermostats, professional installation, remote access and energy efficiency service to customers in return for demand response participation. And for each event, participating customers receive rebates.

NV Energy publicly launched mPowered in October 2012. By the end of 2013, it had grown into a full-scale program with 14,500 customer participants and 21,000 installed thermostats. To date, more than 23,000 customers are participating, and more than 35,000 thermostats have been installed.

A new phase began in 2014.

NV Energy integrated mPowered into its Uisol DRMS, which means the utility can manage all of its demand response resources through a common interface.

NV Energy also added emergency demand response to the program.

NV Energy now provides real-time consumption information and allows customers to schedule and make changes to thermostat temperature set points with their smartphones and tablets.

Annual 2013 savings from demand response and energy efficiency averaged 635 kWh and 18 therms per home and $100 savings on average per year per home. And in the summer alone, customers saved 94.7 kWh per month and air conditioning savings of 11 percent.

Customer participation has been sustained. A utility survey found that 89 percent of mPowered customers would recommend the program, and the program had an 86 percent overall customer satisfaction rating.

The high-tech DRMS supports program enrollments, customer and field service order processing, device management and provisioning, demand response event forecasting, dispatch and optimization, customer settlements, measurement and verification and system load forecast adjustments.

Runner-up. Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) took the second spot in the Demand Response/Energy Efficiency Project of the Year category for its Multifamily Housing Program and Northgate One Housing Facility.

Public Service Electric and Gas Co. won runner-up in the Demand Response/Energy Efficiency Project of the Year category for its Multifamily Housing Program and Northgate One Housing Facility
Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) won runner-up in the Demand Response/Energy Efficiency Project of the Year category for its Multifamily Housing Program and Northgate One Housing Facility. Upgrades will save some $149,000 annually in fuel and utility costs.

The utility’s $39 million Multifamily Housing Program funds the installation of energy conservation measures for eligible multifamily facilities in the utility’s New Jersey service territory. The program provides construction funding upfront to eliminate the building owner’s need to secure a loan to finance the capital investment. PSE&G conducts an energy audit that identifies cost-effective energy conservation measures that have a payback of 15 years or less.

Northgate One, built in 1962, is a 21-story building with 301 apartments for low-income and senior residents in Camden, New Jersey. A June 2012 PSE&G energy audit of Northgate One performed by MaGrann Associates identified 16 energy efficiency upgrades worth more than $860,000 that were eligible for PSG&E Multifamily Housing Program funding.

Project engineering was completed by March 2013, initial construction began two months later, and the energy efficiency retrofit was completed in March 2014.

Improvements included optimization of boilers and in-unit controls, steam trap repair, new rooftop ventilation fans and installation of more than a mile of pipe insulation. Many apartments received new energy-efficient refrigerators, kitchen lighting and low-flow showerheads. New thermostatic radiator valves reduced apartment overheating and increased tenant comfort. Existing lighting in the building’s common areas and parking lots was replaced with new energy-efficient lighting fixtures that improved exterior lighting quality and enhanced security. Northgate One will recognize an annual energy savings of more than 282,536 kWh of electricity, a 34-kW summer peak demand reduction and 161,740 therms of natural gas. The upgrades will save some $149,000 annually in fuel and utility costs, or about $2.98 million over the 20-year lifespan of the new equipment.

The full cost of energy efficiency upgrades (including engineering, the energy audit and cost of construction), are covered through a combination of PSE&G’s buydown/grant and zero percent on-bill repayment/financing. Northgate One’s share of the project cost is $59,608 per year, which it pays monthly on its PSE&G bill for five years. The PSE&G bill payment option is a critical component to the success of the program.

Renewable Grid Integration

PSE&G won in the Renewable Grid Integration Project of the Year category for its Solar 4 All pole-attached solar program.

PSE&G won in the Renewable Grid Integration Project of the Year category for its Solar 4 All pole-attached solar program
PSE&G won in the Renewable Grid Integration Project of the Year category for its Solar 4 All pole-attached solar program, which saved more than 170 acres of land that would have been needed for a 40-MW DC solar farm.

PSE&G got creative while adhering to a New Jersey mandate that solar development may not encroach upon the state’s scarce open land.

The utility installed 40 MW DC of solar capacity on utility poles in more than 300 municipalities throughout the New Jersey electric service territory. The program saved more than 170 acres of land that would have been needed for a 40-MW DC solar farm. And instead of paying rent to install panels on third-party properties, PSE&G used exiting assets and space.

Powergrid International Editor in Chief Teresa Hansen presents the Renewable Grid Integration Project of the Year award to Susanna Chiu and Jorge Cardenas of PSE&G.
Powergrid International Editor in Chief Teresa Hansen presents the Renewable Grid Integration Project of the Year award to Susanna Chiu and Jorge Cardenas of PSE&G.

PSE&G worked with in-state companies Petra Solar, Riggs Distler and U-R-S to develop safe and efficient work processes for the installation.

Petra Solar designed, patented and manufactured the solar units, which are made of a solar panel, microinverter and communication module mounted on a patented racking system. A communications system monitors the performance of each unit using a self-correcting mesh network. System data is used for reporting energy production and to identify underperforming units that require maintenance.

Riggs Distler, using two-person IBEW linemen crews, installed more than 174,000 of the solar units quickly and safely over nearly five years.

URS Corp. provided engineering consulting and project management.

The project is the first and largest pole-attached solar system of its kind and powers some 6,500 average-size homes annually.

The pole-attached solar units make up nearly one-third of PSE&G’s 125-MW DC Solar 4 All Program, which also makes use of grid-connected solar projects on roofs, land, parking lots, landfills and brownfields.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved the pole-attached program in July 2009 as part of the initial 80-MW DC portion of the Solar 4 All program. Installations began in October 2009 and were completed in April 2014. Now the program is in an ongoing operation and maintenance phase.

PSE&G provided the upfront capital to develop the pole-attached project and collects the costs from ratepayers over 20 years.

“Although the cost of the program is reflected in our customers’ electric bills, the revenue PSE&G receives from the sale of Solar 4 All solar electricity and capacity, the sale of the solar credits and the federal investment tax credit realized are all used to offset the overall cost of the program,” said Francis Sullivan, communications specialist at PSE&G. “PSE&G earns only a set rate of return on its solar investments.”

The utility, he said, worked with PJM and the New Jersey BPU to develop processes for recording solar credits for the system.

“Unlike traditional solar rebate programs, the pole-attached solar program allows all PSE&G electric customers to realize some benefit from solar power,” Sullivan said. “The pole-attached solar units are connected directly to the utility’s secondary distribution wiring, which means that while all of our customers are sharing in the cost of the program, they are also utilizing some amount of solar energy in their homes and businesses due to the pole-attached solar project’s highly distributed nature.”

Runner-up. Burbank Water and Power is runner-up to the Renewable Energy Integration Project of the Year for its Meeting Renewable Resource Goals Through an Integrated Automated Dispatch System program.

Burbank Water and Power won runner-up to the Renewable Energy Integration Project of the Year for its Meeting Renewable Resource Goals Through an Integrated Automated Dispatch System program
Burbank Water and Power won runner-up to the Renewable Energy Integration Project of the Year for its Meeting Renewable Resource Goals Through an Integrated Automated Dispatch System program. The project was completed on time and within budget.

In 2005, the California community-owned water and electric utility was the first utility in the nation to commit to source 33 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020.

In 2012, Burbank hired Schneider Electric to install an integrated automated dispatch system (IADS) that combines the power of the company’s WeatherSentry system to track weather patterns and forecast renewable energy loads with an advanced power control system for automatic generator control, load forecasting and renewable forecasting.

These technologies were installed on top of Burbank’s existing OASys SCADA system powered by Schneider Electric.

Burbank Water and Power and Schneider Electric tested and validated the new IADS from 2012 to 2013. The IADS lets the utility co-optimize scheduling and dispatch of conventional supply resources, distributed generation and demand-side resources, control inadvertent interchanges better and reduce reliance on external generation.

Burbank fully implemented and trained staff on the new IADS from 2013-2014. The project was completed on time and within budget.

2016 Awards

The 2016 POWERGRID International Projects of the Year will be announced live Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, during the Electric Light & Power and POWERGRID International Annual Awards Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Orlando in Florida. For more information and to nominate a project for the 2016 POWERGRID International Projects of the Year, please visit www.power-grid.com. Deadline is Sept. 15, 2015.

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