Nearly Half of Utilities Planning SCADA Overhaul Soon, Report Shows

Almost one-half of utilities plan to upgrade or retrofit their SCADA systems over the next two years, according to a report by Newton-Evans Research Co.

Newton-Evans interviewed and surveyed 68 electric utility participants from across North America. The firm was studying energy management system (EMS), SCADA, distribution management system (DMS) and outage management system (OMS) usage patterns.

Of those surveyed, 46 percent said they plan to upgrade or retrofit their SCADA installations by 2019. Most respondents with such plans were mid-size and larger cooperatives and public power utilities.

Twenty percent of respondents plan to purchase a new or replacement DMS by 2019. Only six major utilities reported that they currently have an advanced DMS (ADMS), but 23 others will have an ADMS in the near future. Importantly, of the 29 respondents using or planning to use an ADMS, none indicated that their SCADA functionality and network modeling presently include distributed energy resources (DERs). However, most of this sub-group (82 percent) plan to include DERs in their ADMS functionality in the future.

Real-time network analysis and fault location were the prevalent applications being used as part of current DMS or ADMS installations. Plans are centered on supplementing these (where not yet implemented) and adding network optimization and DER management capabilities. (Figure 1)

FIGURE 1: Applications used as a part of DMS/ADMS
FIGURE 1: Applications used as a part of DMS/ADMS

Real-time linkages between SCADA and GIS or OMS were found in 44 percent of the utility sites. Forty-one percent reported having no real-time linkages among these systems.

Almost half of the survey respondents indicated that the operational systems support group is managed by operations, while about one-third stated that such support is now part of corporate IT. (Figure 2)

FIGURE 2: How is OS Support Managed?
FIGURE 2: How is OS Support Managed?

Third party services are being used and relied upon to assist with NERC CIP compliance issues and to conduct vulnerability assessments.

DNP 3 continues to be the most prevalent operational data communications protocol throughout North American electric power utilities. Most of these utilities plan to continue the use of DNP 3 for the foreseeable future. Some planning for IEC 61850 is underway, but remains at a low level among these respondents.

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JCP&L Spending $359M on new Transmission Line, Circuit Upgrades

Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) plans to invest $359 million during 2017 on infrastructure projects and other work to enhance reliability across its 13-county northern and central New Jersey service area.

Major projects scheduled for 2017 include finishing construction of a new 16-mile, 230-kV transmission line, building a new 34.5-kV power line in Monmouth County and installing new communication equipment across the JCP&L service area to help enhance remote-control capability. Other scheduled work includes 94 circuit upgrades and replacing breakers and other voltage-regulating equipment.

JCP&L photo
JCP&L photo

“Our customers have benefited from the continuous investments and enhancements made over the past decade to JCP&L’s transmission and distribution systems,” said Jim Fakult, president of JCP&L. “During that time, nearly $3 billion has been invested to strengthen our electric system. In addition to the improved service reliability, the infrastructure work is designed to accommodate future growth in New Jersey’s economy.”

Projects scheduled for 2017 include completing construction of a new 16-mile, 230-kV transmission line from a substation in Howell to a substation in Neptune, and installing five, one-ton circuit breakers at a cost of about $24 million; installing new high-speed communication equipment across the JCP&L service area at a cost of $11.6 million to help enhance the remote operation of the electric system and upgrading more than 90 distribution circuits to enhance service reliability at a cost of $4.7 million, among other projects.

Upgrading transmission protective devices, circuit breakers and other equipment across the JCP&L service area will cost of $5.4 million. This equipment automatically disconnects from the system when a problem is detected to reduce the length of an outage and the number of customers that are affected.

JCP&L is a unit of FirstEnergy Corp. JCP&L serves 1.1 million New Jersey customers in the counties of Burlington, Essex, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.

PG&E Achieves Second-best Reliability Year Ever in 2016

By Rod Walton, Senior Editor

An unruly El Nino did not stop Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) from delivering its second best year ever, reliability-wise, in 2016, the San Francisco-based utility reported.

The average PG&E customer experienced one outage during the year. The average duration of power outages was 109 minutes, up from the record low 96 minutes in 2015 but still the utility’s second-best total in history.

“It’s our job to provide safe and reliable power to our customers, and I’m proud to say that that is exactly what the men and women of PG&E delivered in 2016,” Pat Hogan, senior vice president of PG&E Electric Operations, said in a statement. “The hard work of our employees coupled with the investments we continue to make to create a smarter, more reliable grid benefit all of us.”

PG&E’s average outage duration has improved 35 percent over the past decade. The slight decline in 2016 was attributed to stormy El Nino weather early in the year.

The interruptions averaged 1.46 per customer and lasted 196 minutes in 2006 and have been on a downward trend since then, according to reports. Since 2012, PG&E has installed advanced automated technology on 25 percent of its electrical distribution circuits, which the company says helped it avoid more than 160 million customer outage minutes.

The utility also has opened three new electric distribution control centers since 2014. Those facilities manage more than 140,000 miles of distribution power lines throughout northern and central California.

In the last five years, PG&E has invested $15 billion to enhance and harden its electric transmission and distribution system assets.

The record low outage duration in 2015 was the seventh straight year of improved reliability, PG&E has previously reported.

Duff-Coleman Developer Seeking Public Utility Status in Indiana

By Corina Rivera Linares, Chief Analyst, Transmission Hub

Republic Transmission LLC, which has been selected through the Midcontinent ISO’s (MISO) competitive developer selection process to develop the Duff-Coleman extra high voltage 345-kV competitive transmission project in Indiana and Kentucky, has filed a verified petition with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, seeking authority to operate as a public utility, as well as a finding that it is a new electric transmission owner under Indiana Code.

Republic Transmission is also seeking, among other things:

“- Authorization to exercise all rights and privileges of a public utility as accorded by Indiana law, including the right to exercise eminent domain

“- A determination that the commission should decline to exercise certain aspects of its jurisdiction over Republic Transmission with respect to, for instance, long-term financings, as well as its approval authority over reorganization and the purchase or sale of facilities, including a purchase or sale related to reorganization within the LS Power Group

“- Authorization for Republic Transmission to maintain its books and records outside of Indiana; Republic Transmission intends to maintain its books and records at its principal office in East Brunswick, N.J.

“- Authorization for Republic Transmission to transfer functional control of assets to an applicable RTO

Republic Transmission is a unit of Republic Transmission Holdings LLC (RT Holdings), which is a fully-owned unit of LS Power Associates L.P. The petition also noted that Republic Transmission and Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative Inc., have a memorandum of understanding and are finalizing an agreement under which Hoosier Energy will acquire 10 percent of RT Holdings and have an option to purchase an additional 10 percent of RT Holdings at a future date.

The Duff-Coleman project begins at the Duff substation in Dubois County, Indiana, and continues south to the Coleman substation in Hancock County, Kentucky. The petition further noted that Republic Transmission, which will initially own 100 percent of the project, intends to turn functional control over the project to MISO.

Once all necessary regulatory approvals are attained, Republic Transmission intends to transfer the Kentucky segment of the project to Big Rivers Electric Corp. As a result, the petition added, Republic Transmission will be a new electric transmission owner and seeks authority to operate as a public utility in Indiana.

LS Power and Hoosier Energy will furnish Republic Transmission all necessary resources, including equity capital, to build, own, operate and maintain an electric transmission facility, the petition said.

APS Rate Settlement Preserves Retail Net Metering Only for Current Solar PV Customers

By Rod Walton, Senior Editor

Arizona Public Service (APS) settled a long-running rate case last month that solar power advocates hailed as a hard-fought victory for the photovoltaic industry and its customers in that state. The move preserved net metering benefits for current rooftop solar customers who sell their excess power back into the grid.

APS settled with numerous parties on an Arizona Corporation Commission rate case dating back to last year. This settlement allows APS to collect fixed charges on residential customers, but at a lower rate than first proposed, according to sources close to the settlement.

More importantly, sources said, it rejects all mandatory demand charges on residential customers. The Corporation Commission had not made its decision by press deadline.

The policy does not change for current solar customers. New solar customers who sign on after the decision, however, will not benefit from the retail net metering rate.

“Grandfathered DG (distributed generation) customers will continue to take service under full retail rate net metering,” the settlement reads.

DG customers who file an interconnection application before the Corporation Commission decides the case will be eligible for those full retail net metering rates for up to 20 years, the settlement reads. Those rates can be adjusted with subsequent rate cases.

“Arizona’s families and businesses should be able to meet their own energy needs with the state’s plentiful sunshine if they so choose,” said Briana Kobor, DG Regulatory Policy Program Director with the non-profit group Vote Solar, one of the parties who settled with APS, in a statement. “We were glad to arrive at a settlement that takes some steps to preserve customer choice, keeps solar customers on the same rates as other customers, and soundly rejects the idea of penalizing all residential customers with mandatory demand charges.”

APS filed a request for a net metering cut last year. Retail net metering forces the utility to buy back excess power generated from rooftop solar systems at the retail rather than wholesale rate.

FirstEnergy Spending $166M on Mon Power Grid Upgrades

FirstEnergy Corp. expects to invest about $166 million in 2017 on distribution and transmission infrastructure projects in Mon Power’s 34-county West Virginia service area.

The projects include transmission enhancements to reinforce the system, along with constructing new distribution lines and inspecting and replacing utility poles and other equipment.

“Each year we carefully review and plan transmission and distribution projects that will enhance service to our customers, while also preparing our system for future economic growth,” said Holly Kauffman, president of FirstEnergy’s West Virginia operations. “By doing proactive upgrades, we enhance the reliability and resiliency of our system and help reduce the duration and frequency of service interruptions our customers might experience.”

Projects planned in the Mon Power footprint in 2017 include:

“- Replacing a 138-kV transformer in a transmission substation near Thomas with a new transformer of greater capacity to upgrade the regional transmission grid to accommodate increased output from nearby wind generation in Tucker County. The $2.2 million project is scheduled to begin in the fall, with the new transformer installed and operational by the end of the year.

“- Reconfiguring four transmission lines in Pleasants County to by-pass a substation adjacent to the decommissioned Willow Island Generation Station and connect with another substation several miles away. The $2.2 million project includes constructing eight new wood pole structures to interconnect the four transmission lines, along with replacing two breakers and adding a third breaker to the nearby substation. Work should be completed by June.

“- Replacing 26 sets of disconnect switches on 138-kV breakers in numerous transmission substations throughout Mon Power’s service area at a cost of about $1.3 million.

EYE ON the world

KEPCO, GE Sign Deal on HVDC Transmission in Korea

Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) and GE announced today that they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish infrastructure for high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission in Bitgaram Energy Valley in the city of Naju in South Korea.

Hwan Eik Cho, KEPCO’s CEO, and Bong Soo Moon, KEPCO’s executive vice president and chief power grid officer, joined the signing ceremony together with Jeff Immelt, GE’s chairman and CEO, and Chris Khang, CEO of GE Korea.

Both companies agreed to cooperate on localizing the newer HVDC technology. Bitgaram Energy Valley will be leveraged further as the HVDC test bed with investments in digital grid applications and big data analysis. To support this initiative, GE will open an office in Naju by the end of this month.

(From Left to Right) KEPCO's CEO Hwan Eik Cho with GE's Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt
(From Left to Right) KEPCO’s CEO Hwan Eik Cho with GE’s Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt)

An HVDC system interconnects two alternative current (AC) networks by converting AC to DC at one end for transmission and at the other, DC to AC before it goes to homes and factories. As the power demand continues to increase along with the need to integrate more renewables into the energy mix, DC transmission has proven to be the most economical solution, given that it has lower electrical losses and less radio interference, compared to AC voltage system.

“We are pleased to establish this HVDC infrastructure at Bitgaram Energy Valley through joint investment with GE,” said KEPCO’s Cho. “This investment will contribute to the development of Korea’s HVDC technology, while the Energy Valley leaps to become a global hub for new energy businesses. GE’s continued investment in Korea will support the growth of local companies in the future.”

Beginning with this MOU, KEPCO is expecting to attract Korean and global companies in the HVDC industry, create jobs and revitalize the Energy Valley. This will also provide Korea with the opportunity to grow as a center of the global HVDC industry.

“The digitalization of the electrical power industry will provide new business models for the introduction of HVDC, renewable energy and energy storage systems to the market,” GE’s Khang said.

The global market for HVDC is now valued at around $6 billion with the potential to reach $15 billion by 2026, according to the GE release.

EYE ON the world

Vattenfall and BMW Group Conclude Supply Contract for Batteries

Vattenfall and the BMW Group have signed a contract for the delivery of up to 1,000 lithium-ion batteries this year. The batteries have a capacity of 33 kWh each and are equipped with a BMW-owned battery management system.

Vattenfall will purchase the new batteries from the BMW plant in Dingolfing, Germany, and use them in all storage projects.

“Energy storage and grid stability are the major topics of the new energy world,” said Gunnar Groebler, senior vice president of Vattenfall and Head of Business Area Wind. “We want to use the sites where we generate electricity from renewable energies in order to drive the transformation to a new energy system and to facilitate the integration of renewable energies into the energy system with the storage facilities. The decoupling of production and consumption and the coupling of different consumption sectors are in the focus of our work.”

Photo courtesy Vattenfall
Photo courtesy Vattenfall

The batteries will function as back-up storage maintaining electricity when wind dies down. The same type of batteries are used by the car manufacturer in the BMW i3 electric car.

Vattenfall plans to build the first 3.2-MW battery storage facility at its 122-MW Princess Alexia wind farm near Amsterdam. A bigger 22-MW capacity storage facility is planned at the 230 MW Pen y Cymoedd wind farm in South Wales.

The Swedish company won a contract in August from Britain’s National Grid to supply superfast balancing services to the Pen y Cymoedd wind farm.

“We are pleased that we have found a supplier in BMW, who meets our high safety requirements with the use of the batteries with reliably good quality from German series production,” said Daniel Hustadt, project manager for large batteries at Vattenfall Innovation GmbH.

EYE ON the world

India Smart Grid Forecast Offers Huge Potential Benefits and Challenges

India represents what is arguably the best smart grid market opportunity among all emerging market countries, according to a recent report by researchers Northeast Group LLC.

“India Smart Grid Market Forecast (2017),” reports that the nation has the second largest electricity customer market in the world. Unlike China, which has the largest, the Indian market will be open to international vendors, as stated in the central government’s smart grid development strategy.

“This will create very significant market opportunities for the leading global players. Vendors from across Europe, North America and Asia have already participated in small-scale pilots and grid upgrade projects, and have been linked with announcements of large-scale rollouts by Indian utilities that are upcoming in the next several years,” the report reads.

India has power sector market conditions that will require significant smart grid infrastructure investment. India has one of the highest transmission and distribution (T&D) loss rates in the world, the Northeast report reads. In some states, the T&D loss rates exceed 50 percent, and almost all states have loss rates above 15 percent. Most Indian utilities fail to achieve cost recovery, and smart grid investment will be an important tool for utilities to reduce losses and improve revenue collection and operational efficiency.

With strong drivers and a willing government, the medium-to-long-term smart grid opportunities in India are enormous, Northeast researchers predicted. In the near term, the environment may be more challenging. India’s power sector is fragmented and complicated. As in the U.S., each state has its own regulatory commission, so structure and regulations can vary widely in India from state to state.

“Understanding the dynamics of each state will be critical to participating in this market,” the report outline reads. “Overall, India is one of the most unique smart grid markets in the world. It combines enormous market potential and a high GDP growth rate with complex regulatory structures and low per-capita income.

EYE ON the world

Report: More than 250 Smart City Projects Exist Globally

According to a new report from Navigant Research, there are more than 250 smart city projects from 178 cities around the world, and the majority focus on government and energy initiatives, followed by transportation, buildings and water goals.

Working in partnership with technology and service suppliers, city leaders and central governments are realizing the benefits smart city projects can provide in terms of economic opportunity, sustainability, and quality of life. As the number of smart city projects increases globally, cities are pursuing higher levels and a greater variety of integration among technology-driven city services and solutions.

“Leading cities are looking at how they can build on their initial investment in open data and the data feeds being provided by Internet of things applications,” says Christina Jung, research analyst with Navigant Research. “Cities are moving beyond the publication of government open data policies to the exploitation of a wide range of data sources and the establishment of city platforms for information sharing and use of analytics.”

In addition, as sensor technology improves and costs decrease, smart city technologies are becoming more efficient, higher performing and cheaper than ever before, according to the report. All told, the global market for smart city solutions and services is expected to grow from $40.1 billion in 2017 to $97.9 billion in 2026.

For another take on the smart city phenomenon, read “Urban Legend” beginning on page 27.

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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

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