Ceiva Energy Achieves Premier Level of Security Certification

Ceiva Energy

Ceiva Energy, a utility-controlled home energy management system (HEMS) company, has earned the ISO/IEC 27001:2005 Management System certificate, an international mark of excellence for security and privacy, the company announced.

Ceiva is the first HEMS company to earn this premier level of certification.

“Ceiva Energy is proud to be the first in the industry to achieve this rigorous ISO certification for data security,” said Dean Schiller, Ceiva Energy CEO. “We are committed to giving our utility customers confidence that Ceiva Energy manages data according to some of the most stringent security standards in the industry. As a result, we enable utilities to meet increasingly strict data security requirements while deepening trust with customers.”

ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certification recognizes organizations that have demonstrated effective implementation of documentation and records management. The certification process evaluates management’s commitment to their customers; establishment of clear policy, good planning and implementation; resource security and management; and the efficiency of process control, measurement and analysis.

Ceiva Energy received ISO/IEC certification specifically for the provision of controls for the protection of infrastructure, computer systems, information and people engaged in receiving, transferring and storing sensitive information within Ceiva’s HEMS platform. Certification was awarded by SRI Quality System Registrar, an internationally accredited registrar for management systems.


Bipartisan Policy Center Includes Energy Items on List for Congress

Bipartisan Policy Center

The Bipartisan Policy Center has compiled a list of “doable items” that Congress can tackle on a bipartisan basis. They are:

1. Commit to regular order. Committees should conduct legislative and oversight hearings, marking up legislation after receiving input from both sides and issuing committee reports. Members should be allowed to offer amendments to legislation on the floor and full conference committees should be held.

2. Pass energy efficiency legislation championed by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Reps. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Peter Welch, D-Vt.

3. Advance energy innovation and reauthorize the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

4. Create new bankruptcy authority specifically designed for the failure of large financial institutions to provide another effective tool for ending bailouts for too-big-to-fail institutions.

5. Develop a work force that can respond to growing cyberthreats by passing legislation that increases training for cyber professions.

6. Establish a regulatory oversight framework for health information technology that promotes innovation and protects patient safety.

7. Grant Trade Promotion Authority giving the administration the freedom to negotiate trade agreements with allies in the EU and Asia-Pacific region.

8. Expedite exporting of liquefied natural gas to capitalize on growing U.S. energy resources and create jobs.

9. Improve the technology transfer and commercialization of energy technologies by passing the Department of Energy Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act.

10. Establish a commission to inform better use of data to evaluate the effectiveness of spending on federal programs and tax expenditures, as in the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2014 championed by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.


Snohomish PUD, Washington Governor Announce New Energy Storage Enterprise

Snohomish PUD

Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) and 1Energy Systems welcomed Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to dedicate the first battery storage system built on the cutting-edge Modular Energy Storage Architecture (MESA). The PUD’s MESA project, located at a substation in Everett, Washington, is designed to improve reliability and the integration of renewable energy sources.

The project was made possible in part by a $7.3 million investment from the Washington Clean Energy Fund. The PUD system, the first of several MESA energy storage projects the PUD is pursuing this year, positions the state as a smart grid technology leader and creates cost-effective solutions to use renewable energy better.

“Washington utilities are some of the most innovative in the world, and I applaud Snohomish PUD and its partners for making this commitment to cutting-edge technology that will help us lead the world’s clean energy economy-other states are watching your work,” Inslee said. “It’s exciting to see investments from the state’s Clean Energy Fund advancing our goals to save energy and cut costs for Washington companies and consumers, reduce harmful emissions and support jobs throughout the state.”

PUD General Manager Steve Klein said the electrical grid needs to take on more renewable power, and standards-based storage and software will play big roles.

“MESA,” Klein said, “provides standard interfaces to bring more choices for utilities, reduces projects’ complexity and promises to lower costs.”

1Energy Systems, the principal PUD partner, is the architect of the MESA software controls.

To support the Snohomish PUD project and other Clean Energy Fund projects, the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is working with participants to develop use cases or detailed descriptions of the many ways energy storage can increase renewable energy use and improve grid efficiency and resiliency. The PUD and other utilities will consult these use cases as they implement and evaluate their projects. PNNL also is providing analytical and technical support, including conducting benefits analysis, designing test plans and enhancing control strategies.

The MESA system provides a standard, nonproprietary and scalable approach to energy storage. The PUD’s energy storage program, which forges partnerships with major U.S. and international business partners, will include two large-scale lithium ion batteries, one built by Mitsubishi and GS Yuasa and a second by LG Chem. Both lithium ion batteries will use a Parker Hannifin Power Conversion System. Later this year, the PUD will deploy multiple advanced vanadium flow batteries at a second PUD substation, which will be built by UniEnergy Technologies.

“This project demonstrates how MESA technology standards, pioneered in Washington, will accelerate global innovation in energy storage,” said Darcy Wheeles, program director of the MESA Standards Alliance. “Standards-based products make it easier and less expensive for utilities to control and optimize energy storage and integrate renewable power sources with the grid.”

The collaboration will produce state-of-the-art solutions, bringing together major equipment and software companies to establish the appropriate industry standards and interfaces. The open standards approach is much different than other energy storage projects and is expected to result in the expanded application of plug-and-play type energy storage systems to help solve the expanding needs of today’s electric grid, which depends more on intermittent resources such as wind and solar.

MESA Project Goals

Key goals of the MESA project include:

  • Developing standard electrical and communication interfaces to connect batteries, power converters and software components into modular energy storage systems;
  • Helping foster a robust industry ecosystem of modular energy storage component suppliers. By sharing their learning with other electric utilities and technology suppliers, MESA Project partners are advancing a new, component-based approach to energy storage that gives electric utilities more choice and enables battery, power converter and software manufacturers to reach more customers while focusing on their core competencies.

Partners include: 1Energy Systems; Alstom Grid; LG Chem; Mitsubishi-GS Yuasa; UniEnergy Technologies; Parker Hannifin; University of Washington; and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


City of Mountain View Receives Four All-Electric Shuttle Buses

All-Electric Shuttle Buses

Four zero-emission electric shuttle buses are being deployed in Mountain View, California, according to Calstart, a member-supported organization of more than 140 firms, fleets and agencies worldwide dedicated to supporting a growing high-tech, clean transportation industry.

The Mountain View Community Shuttle service is aimed at moving residents and visitors through the city among neighborhoods, shopping centers, medical complexes, city facilities and recreation areas.

The buses were manufactured by Motiv Power Systems of Foster City using funds from the California Energy Commission (CEC). Google is funding the bus service for the community.

The vehicles use a modular, plug-and-play electric powertrain technology from Motiv Power Systems. The Motiv electric Powertrain Control System (ePCS) is the only product suite in the industry that electrifies truck or bus chassis as a ship-though option, using various commercially available battery packs and motors.

The four electric shuttles are free to the public and are equipped with seating for 16 passengers, a wheelchair lift, space for two wheelchairs, Wi-Fi connectivity and bicycle racks on the outside of the vehicle. City officials hope the service will reduce drive-alone traffic, as well as help residents get around town in a loop route.

“This is an excellent example of how state and private funds can be used to help clean the air, cut greenhouse gas emissions and support the growth of a California company,” said John Boesel, president and CEO at Calstart.

The demonstration pilot will last one year. Motiv will collect data and use patterns with a goal of proving electric shuttle buses are a viable alternative to their traditional counterparts that run on diesel. Motiv’s electric powertrains are expected to decrease total cost of ownership by 8 percent for initial production vehicles and by more than 30 percent for production vehicles. In addition, the team expects to see a significant reduction in the time to produce these vehicles, which in this case, are converted to battery power using existing platforms such as the Ford E-450 chassis. The vehicle can travel up to 100 miles on a single charge and will offer quiet, comfortable rides to the city’s residents.

This electric shuttle program was part of a larger 10-project grant administered by Calstart with the goal of advancing cleaner, more efficient trucks and buses. Funding for the electric shuttles and the other nine projects was provided by the California Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program.


JD Power: Electric Utilities Achieve Best Business Customer Satisfaction Since 2009

Business customer satisfaction with their electric utilities has hit its highest mark since 2009, based primarily on a substantial year-over-year increase in satisfaction with power quality and reliability, which, in turn, is driven by a significant improvement in utilities’ efforts to provide more accurate outage information, according to the J.D. Power 2015 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study.

The study measures satisfaction among business customers of 101 U.S. electric utilities, each of which serves more than 25,000 business customers. In aggregate, these utilities provide electricity to more than 12 million customers. Overall satisfaction is examined across six factors (listed in order of importance): power quality and reliability; billing and payment; corporate citizenship; price; communications; and customer service. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.

Reaching its highest score in the past seven years, overall satisfaction among electric utility business customers is 677 in 2015, compared with 617 in 2009-a significant 60-point increase. In addition, satisfaction increases by 15 points from 2014 (662). Performance improvement in 2015 is driven by a sharp year-over-year rise in satisfaction with power quality and reliability (+19 points), which is bolstered by a notable improvement in utilities’ efforts to provide more accurate information about outages.

In addition, this is the second consecutive year of improvement for more than 80 percent of the electric utilities included in the study, regardless of whether they rank among the highest- or lowest-performing companies.

“It’s important to note that many electric utilities that have traditionally ranked at the low end of the overall index now include in their business goals initiatives that are aimed at improving customer satisfaction,” said Andrew Heath, director of the energy practice at J.D. Power. “Among those utilities, several are posting substantial increases in satisfaction as a result. When utilities highly satisfy its customer base, there is a quantifiable positive impact on profitability and credit ratings for the utility.”

Key Findings

  • Power quality and reliability satisfaction among business customers who receive outage information (713) is 143 points higher than among those who do not receive such outage information (570).
  • Utility communications positively affect satisfaction. Overall communications satisfaction among customers who recall receiving a communication from their utility is 74 points higher than among those who do not recall any communication. The percentage of business customers’ recalling a communication from their utility has increased to 55 percent in 2015 from 51 percent in 2014.
  • Online account setup among business customers has grown to 57 percent in 2015 from 33 percent in 2009. Nearly three-fourths (72 percent) of business customers resolve their problem or issue online during the first contact, compared with 69 percent of those who resolve their problem by phone during the first contact.
  • Overall satisfaction is highest among industrial business customers (682) and lowest among health care customers (675).

Study Rankings

Within each of the four geographic regions included in the study, utility providers are classified into one of two segments: large (serving 85,000 or more business customers) and midsize (serving between 25,000 and 84,999 business customers). Rankings within each region and segment are as follows:

East Region. PSE&G ranks highest among large electric utility providers in the East Region with a score of 685. Among midsize electric utilities in the East Region, Delmarva Power ranks highest with a score of 691.

Midwest Region. In the Midwest Region, MidAmerican Energy (718) ranks highest among large electric utilities for a second consecutive year. Omaha Public Power District (728) ranks highest among midsize utilities.

South Region. Georgia Power (731) ranks highest among large utilities in the South Region for a third consecutive year. Among midsize electric utilities, Gulf Power ranks highest (731).

West Region. Salt River Project (SRP) ranks highest among large electric utilities in the West Region for a second consecutive year with a score of 741. Among midsize electric utility providers, Seattle City Light ranks highest with a score of 716.

The 2015 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 22,857 online interviews with business customers who spend at least $200 monthly on electricity. The study was fielded from April through June 2014 and July through November 2014.



EYE ON THE WORLD

SaskPower receives additional smart meter testing results

SaskPower

SaskPower, the principal electric utility in Saskatchewan, Canada, has received results of smart meter testing from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) confirming its meters comply with the current UL standard.

“The results are encouraging in the sense that we now have independent confirmation that these meters meet all standards,” said Mike Marsh, SaskPower acting president and CEO. “That being said, the way these meters failed in the Saskatchewan environment was unacceptable. It’s clear that the bar must be raised. Higher standards are required of a new meter, and SaskPower is leading the charge on exactly that front.”

SaskPower hired UL in August for independent testing on the model of smart meter installed on residential homes in Saskatchewan. UL is a world-leading body in testing, certifying and validating electrical meters. Its standards for meters have been adopted as leading specifications for meter use in North America.

The meters were subjected to the performance requirements in the newest industry standard: the UL 2735 Standard for Safety for Electric Utility Meters, which was released May 30, 2013, and the meters were found to comply.

The UL 2735 standard covers the accuracy and safe performance of smart meters. Testing included things such as flammability, water ingress, meter accuracy, exposure to various voltages and operation under extreme conditions.

“The test results underscore the importance of committing additional dollars to research and development of a smart meter for Saskatchewan,” Marsh said.

In an agreement announced Sept. 9, SaskPower and Sensus specifically agreed to an investment of $5 million toward a next-generation meter that meets SaskPower’s specific needs.

Any new smart meter designed for SaskPower’s use must meet more stringent requirements than currently exist. These requirements, as well as current industry standards, will be subject to independent verification prior to acceptance or installation by SaskPower.

SaskPower continues to remove all remaining smart meters in the province with a deadline for completion of March 15.



Rehearing Wanted on ICC’s Approval of Rock Island Clean Line Project

Rock Island Clean Line Project

by Susan Nelson, TransmissionHub

The Illinois Commerce Commission’s (ICC’s) approval of Clean Line Energy Partners’ Rock Island Clean Line HVDC project has raised protests from several parties, including Commonwealth Edison (ComEd).

Clean Line Energy has proposed the approximately 500-mile line to deliver 3,500 MW to Illinois and other states to the East from northwestern Iowa and the surrounding region. The ICC granted a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) in 2014 stating that Rock Island can operate as a public utility in Illinois and build the line.

The line would originate at a converter station in O’Brien County, Iowa, traverse Iowa, cross the Mississippi River near Princeton, Iowa, and enter Illinois south of Cordova, Illinois. The line would cross Illinois for some 121 miles and interconnect with PJM Interconnection’s 765-kV transmission system at the Collins substation in Grundy County. The HVDC line would terminate at a converter station to be located in Channahon, Illinois. A single circuit 345-kV AC line and a double circuit 345-kV AC line would be constructed from the converter station to the point of interconnection at the Collins substation.

Clean Line Energy states on its website that “there is a large demand for electricity supplied by renewable resources and in particular by wind generation, in Illinois and the PJM region, and that demand will continue to grow over the next 15 years.”

The proposed Rock Island line is intended to encourage the growth of wind facilities in the resource area, which then can be transmitted to population areas in Illinois.

Clean Line Energy spokeswoman Sarah Bray told TransmissionHub on Jan. 5 that the company expects the ICC to rule on the requests for rehearing of the ICC order in the next few weeks.

“We were very pleased with the ICC’s (CPCN) order and are sitting tight,” she said.

Requests for Rehearing

ComEd in its Dec. 26, 2014, request for a rehearing questioned the designation of Rock Island as an Illinois utility and the financial capability of the company to support the potential $2 billion project. ComEd proposed, however, that the ICC “consider other means of protecting parties and customers short of rejecting the CPCN.”

In particular, ComEd suggested that the ICC should modify its order to require Rock Island “to file any proposed financing for commission review in an open docket.”

Also, the ICC should “require an enforceable financial guarantee” because Rock Island has “no material financial resources,” ComEd said.

The ICC has found that Rock Island’s public service and public use obligations are met by reason of its federal Open Access Transmission Tariff obligations and its commitment that, if the line is built, Rock Island will offer to contract for 25 percent of its capacity using an “open season” process. ComEd suggested that Rock Island should make a filing after its open season to be sure that the Illinois public has been served.

The Illinois Agricultural Association, also known as the Illinois Farm Bureau, in its Dec. 26, 2014, filing also questioned the financial sturdiness of the Rock Island company and the capability of its managers to bring the line to fruition.

The Illinois Farm Bureau said its position “has been that there is no evidence that provides any assurance that Rock Island, or its parent company or sister companies are anything more than non-utility new entrants in the market with a business plan, formulated and run by novices, who have never built or operated transmission lines.”

The Illinois Farm Bureau also claimed that Rock Island has not presented evidence that Illinois consumers need the proposed line or that the project “will make the market more competitive, that customers, generators or financing will ever exist, or that the project will definitely be built.”

In addition, Iowa state regulators might not approve the project, which potentially would put “the Illinois portion of the project indefinitely on hold,” the Illinois Farm Bureau said.

The Rock Island company has not produced a needs analysis from PJM or the Midcontinent ISO (MISO), and the absence of such analysis produces increased unpredictability and slows or jeopardizes other legitimate transmission projects, the Illinois Farm Bureau said.

The Illinois Landowners Alliance in its Dec. 24, 2014, request for rehearing said that the ICC’s order does not impose sufficient control over the project and that the project was unnecessary.

The alliance is a not-for-profit corporation of individuals with ownership or other interests in farm ground and other land in Illinois.

Among other things, the alliance said in its filing that the ICC should have consulted with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources; that the company is not eligible to receive a CPCN to transact public utility business in Illinois; that too many risks, unknowns and uncertainties exist surrounding an interconnection with the ComEd facilities at the Collins substation; and that the need for the line was not established.

ComEd is an Exelon company.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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