ComEd announced delays to key elements of its grid modernization program under the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA) after the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) granted ComEd recovery of the cost of funding its pension but denied cost recovery on two other issues, which ComEd will appeal.

“With this ruling, we have no choice but to delay some elements of the grid modernization rollout, at least until we have an outcome in the courts,” said Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd president and CEO. “The adverse rulings on the interest rate and rate base issues significantly impair ComEd’s ability to finance long-term investment programs.”

Last year the Illinois General Assembly enacted EIMA, which directed electric utilities to invest in the state’s electric infrastructure, improve reliability, create jobs and attract investment to Illinois. The law also granted utilities the right to recover the actual costs of investment. The ICC ruling is inconsistent with the legislation on two of three issues considered on rehearing.

After the ICC denied ComEd cost recovery on 13 issues in May, the company sought rehearing, and the ICC agreed to reconsider three and reversed its earlier decision on one. The impact of these issues will be nearly $100 million per year in 2014 and beyond—costs that cannot be recovered and subsequently reinvested into the system.

Pramaggiore said that although the ruling will allow ComEd to maintain a minimal level of investment of a few core programs, it is insufficient to fully fund the utility’s grid modernization efforts.

“While we remain committed to fulfilling the promise of EIMA and intend to meet our obligations under the law, we have to be judicious about making investments if we do not have full cost recovery, as authorized by the legislation.”

Because the ICC is not fully funding the grid modernization program, ComEd will modify its program to align the deployment of key infrastructure with the ICC decision. ComEd must delay installation of additional smart meters until 2015. In addition, some of the basic infrastructure programs, as well as the Chicago training center, will be delayed or phased in more gradually. The result is that more than $2.3 billion in customer savings and the creation of 2,000 full-time equivalent jobs will be delayed.

The legislation authorized a 10-year, $2.6 billion ComEd investment program to drive value to customers through a stronger electric system with fewer outages, faster restoration and new digital smart technologies that provide customers with more information, a greater ability to control their electric bills and new ways to save money.

Dean Apple, president of IBEW Local 15, said labor leaders supported EIMA, which also is called the smart grid bill.

“It has already resulted in many well-paying, skilled jobs for Illinois union workers while providing a boost to other local industries,” he said. “This decision will have a negative impact on the union workers and others hired to do this important work, their families and our state as a whole. We hope this decision will be reversed in the courts.”

ComEd already had begun modernizing the grid. This year alone, ComEd had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in smart grid technology and projects to improve reliability for customers. Significant efforts have been focused on storm hardening to reduce further the susceptibility of storm-related damage to power lines.

The ICC’s ruling on the pension cost recovery will increase the average residential customer bill by some 0.7 percent starting at the end of October; however, even with this change, the new rates are still 1.4 percent lower than 2011.


abb funds kid grid at nc museum

As ABB Inc. helps make smart grid and electric vehicles (EVs) realities in the U.S., the company is educating consumers.

ABB has invested in a Raleigh, N.C., children’s museum to develop an interactive pretend power grid. ABB presented Marbles Kids Museum with its first installment—a $100,000 check—on Oct. 4.

ABB’s seven-year investment in Marbles Kids Museum is for development of Kid Grid. In addition to the monetary investment, ABB will provide the engineering expertise to ensure accuracy of the grid and will supply real power grid equipment: motors, towers, underground cables, transformers and control systems. The museum, ABB engineers and children of ABB employees are working on design concepts that combine technical accuracy with the fun factor for the new exhibit, scheduled to open in 2014.

“We believe that the engineers ABB will employ and the customers we will serve in 2040 are playing at Marbles today,” said Roger Bailey, regional president of ABB’s power products division. “ABB is proud to invest in the next generation through Kid Grid.”

An innovative nonprofit, Marbles Kids Museum inspires young learners through imaginative exhibits and playful learning experiences. By partnering with organizations such as ABB, Marbles keeps the power of play affordable and accessible for all, said Sally Edwards, the museum’s president.

“Kid Grid at Marbles, presented by ABB, is going to wow children, students and families and inspire interest in power and energy,” Edwards said. “Marbles is thrilled to partner with an established leader in our nation’s energy industry.”

Kid Grid will be the first exhibit of its kind for children in the United States.

ABB employs more than 2,000 people in eight North Carolina locations: Cary, Huntersville, Kings Mountain, Marion, Pinetops, Raleigh, Shelby and Weaverville.

First DC fast charger in U.S.

ABB Inc. also installed the company’s first DC fast charger for electric vehicles in the U.S. in September in the company’s New Berlin, Wis., office and manufacturing facility.

Called the Terra 51 direct current (DC) fast charger, the unit reduces EV charging times from eight hours to as little as 15-30 minutes for CHAdeMO-compatible battery EVs.

“We plan to make this charging station accessible to the general public so that owners of electric vehicles have local access to quick charging of their cars,” said Cal Lankton, director of EV charging infrastructure.

The Terra 51 earned UL certification, which puts the unit on the fast track for production and installation across the U.S., he said. Manufacture of the fast chargers is in ramp-up mode at ABB’s New Berlin campus.

“Building out the infrastructure of fast chargers is in the early stages in North America,” Lankton said, “but we now are underway.”

Vehicle owners will be able to use radio-frequency identification cards, swipe them through the card reader on a Terra 51, and begin charging. Such fast-charging technology is designed to support EVs on a commercial basis so they can be used for distance travel or quick top offs during normal use, according to ABB. In addition, ABB’s chargers can connect to any charging network or community via the Open Charge Point Protocol, the widely adopted international open networking standard for charging equipment.

Stefan Friedli, general manager of power electronics and MV drives for ABB in the U.S., said several employees have said the charger helped them decide to purchase EVs.

“This station is just the first step in what we hope is an areawide charging infrastructure network,” Friedli said. “Our goal is to help provide the residents of the greater Milwaukee area with a rich network of EV chargers in order to enhance the user experience and drive adoption.”


Utilidata Inc. announced Oct. 10 that it has entered into an agreement with American Electric Power Co. Inc. to inform and advance the next generation of grid-side applications that will be built on Utilidata’s innovative digital technology platform.

The research and development agreement between the technology company and utility will accelerate the application of digital control technologies to high-value smart grid solutions. Utilidata already has deployed its existing AdaptiVolt voltage optimization products in AEP territories.

As part of the research and development collaboration, technical and commercial leaders from AEP will support the product development work being done at Utilidata’s newly commissioned smart grid simulation and research center in Providence, R.I. The new facility is designed to support the testing of current and future digital control technologies that will deliver superior volt/VAR optimization, peak demand reduction and conservation voltage reduction in an environment than can simulate real-world conditions on the electric grid. The collaborative approach will entail looking at new areas where digital signal processing could improve utility operations, including fault indication and integration of distributed generation and electric vehicles on the distribution system.


After working with thousands of organizations this year, the Energy Star Low Carbon IT Campaign has recognized AT&T Inc., University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, RagingWire Data Centers, The Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BNY Mellon) and Target Corp. for their energy efficiency.

The champions are featured in separate campaign public service announcements that detail their energy-efficient utility successes and feature the real people behind the organizations—those who saved energy and cut costs on behalf of their companies.



The AT&T energy team drives energy efficiency across AT&T’s operations and saved energy by deploying power management software to power down more than 166,000 retail and nonretail computers at night. Estimated annual savings are more than 43 million kWh ($4 million), equivalent to the electricity use of more than 32,000 U.S. homes a year. More than 29,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide are reduced annually, equivalent to more than 3.2 million gallons of gasoline consumed. The team’s next goal is to use their great view from the roof to spot more energy efficiency opportunities.


university of wisconsin-oshkosh

Dan Hoyt and his University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Academic Computing Department colleagues saved energy by activating sleep features on 2,900 Windows 7 campus computers, saving $76,500 annually—or enough electricity to make 50 million cups of coffee. Their efforts will reduce 3,520 tons of CO2 during the next three years. One would have to plant 725 acres of trees to absorb that amount. The team’s next goal is to rig the office coffee maker to the Sage Hall solar panels.



The RagingWire critical facilities team saved energy by installing numerous energy efficiency measures at its Sacramento facility, one of the first collocation data centers to earn the Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star Building designation. The effort saved $900,000, or 8 million kWh annually—enough electricity to light 4,000 homes each year. It also reduced 6,000 tons of CO2 annually, equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 1,000 cars. The team’s next goal is to optimize and operate world-class energy delivery systems across RagingWire’s data centers coast to coast.


bny mellon

BNY Mellon’s Critical Systems Group implemented energy efficiency upgrades such as higher chilled water temperatures at its Pennsylvania facility, the second data center ever certified as an Energy Star Building. The team has saved $1.7 million since 2006—enough electricity to light 12,000 homes for a year. It also reduced 18,000 tons of CO2 since 2006, equal to annual emissions of more than 3,000 cars. The team’s goal is a 10 percent greenhouse gas reduction in the U.S., part of BNY Mellon’s five-point strategy for environmental resource management.



Target’s Technology Center engineering team installed variable frequency drives and lowered generator standby temperatures. Target also became the first company ever to have two data centers earn the Energy Star Building certification. The effort reduced CO2 emissions by 4,500 tons annually, equivalent to taking 800 cars off the road. The corporate goal is to have 75 percent of Target buildings Energy Star certified by 2016.


lux research

As renewables such as wind and solar approach 30 percent grid penetration, operators will need to increase the flexibility of their grids by using natural gas generation, managing up to 2 percent of their peak loads with automated demand response (AutoDR) and employing energy storage for at least 0.5 percent of the annual electricity generated to avoid renewables curtailment and outages, according to Lux Research. On days with the largest supply and demand discrepancy, the storage requirement will jump to 5.2 percent of installed capacity and 1.9 percent of daily consumption to meet demand.

“The emergence of modern wind and solar technologies promise to satiate government-mandated desires for large-scale renewables,” said Brian Warshay, Lux Research associate and lead author of the report “Cloudy with a Chance of Energy: Evaluating Technologies to Manage Grid Intermittency.” “But resources’ depending directly on the wind and sun for their fuel bring with them the same uncertainty as the evening news weatherman, meaning utilities will need to change their grid operations to account for the unreliable supplies of large-scale intermittent renewables.”

Lux Research examined daily supply and demand curves in different climate regions during a year for scenarios with wind and solar penetration up to 50 percent of grid capacity to identify the lowest-cost technology options required to manage intermittency. Among their findings:

  • AutoDR offers the cheapest option. Among all technologies to manage intermittency, AutoDR has the lowest levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) at $0.016 per kilowatt-hour; however, it cannot manage more than 2 percent of the peak generation at 30 percent renewables.
  • Price volatility dims natural gas option. Electricity generated from natural gas can address large, long-lasting supply fluctuations better than AutoDR, although its LCOE is 3.7 to five times higher. At historically low gas prices, however, doubling the natural gas capacity in a mixed grid can facilitate wind and solar integration by offering increased supply flexibility for grid operators, cutting the storage requirement by 60 percent for 50 percent renewable energy penetration.
  • Wind and solar growth drives storage demand. In a grid with 1 GW of peak demand, consuming 168 gigawatt-hours annually with a typical generation mix and demand profile, 59 MWh of storage capacity is required with 10 percent wind and solar while 1,323 MWh of storage is required with 30 percent renewables, and 1,751 MWh of storage is required with 50 percent renewables.


Space shuttle Atlantis lifts off July 8, 2011, from Launch Pad 39A. It was the 135th and final mission of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. Courtesy NASA.

Data historian and trending applications provider Canary Labs in October delivered solutions to NASA for use at the Kennedy Space Center.

The Kennedy Complex Control Systems include the two systems that control the entire electric distribution system, including the Vertical Assembly Building, the fourth-largest building by volume in the world and launch pads 39A and 39B, which were used to launch the space shuttle. The electric distribution system provides power for the entire electric power system and all Kennedy Space Center buildings, covering more than 219 square miles.

The Canary Enterprise Historian and TrendLink applications transparently collect and log data for some 150,000 real-time data points from power quality meters, protection relays and PLCs throughout the complex, working in sync with the power distribution networks supervisory control and data acquisition system. In the past, archiving this data into one system for long periods while making the data accessible to system users was a challenge for NASA.


MISO President and CEO John R. Bear highlighted the numerous ways in which the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) is working to address issues and changes impacting the electric industry during an Oct. 9 address to the Midwest Governors Association (MGA) in St. Paul, Minn.

Bear was joined by MISO Vice President of Transmission Asset Management Clair J. Moeller as guests during a two-day energy summit, “Realizing the Economic and Transmission Benefits of a Low-Cost and Reliable Electricity Grid,” co-hosted by MGA, the Minnesota Governor’s Office, the Organization of MISO States and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

One of the most important forces of change to the region is the implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxins Standard (MATS), the compliance of which will require more than 70 percent of the region’s coal units to retrofit or retire—some 242 generation units with a capacity of 47 gigawatts or the equivalent capacity of every electric generation unit in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa combined. To meet the Environmental Protection Agency compliance requirements, MISO is working with its asset owners to facilitate the flow of information across the entire Midwest.

During his address, Bear discussed MISO’s collaboration with policymakers, regulators, asset owners and other interested parties during the past several years to better plan the region’s infrastructure and transition to the next generation of infrastructure resources. One such development to add value to the efficiency and effectiveness of the industry is MISO’s network of synchrophasors, advanced devices that can reduce the risk for system outages by quickly measuring the state of the electric grid.

In addition, Moeller participated in a panel discussion, “Cross Regional Collaboration and the Future View of RTOs—What It Means for Reliability, Economic Development and the Public Good,” and further described MISO’s commitment to regional and interregional transmission planning and collaboration to generate the best results for consumers.

MISO ensures reliable operation of and equal access to high-voltage power lines in 11 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba. MISO manages one of the world’s largest energy markets, with more than $23.6 billion in annual gross market energy transactions. MISO was approved as the nation’s first regional transmission organization in 2001. The nonprofit 501(C)(4) organization is governed by an independent board of directors and is headquartered in Carmel, Ind., with operations centers in Carmel and St. Paul, Minn. Membership is voluntary.


Echelon wins China State Grid Corp. certification

Echelon wins China State Grid Corp. certification

The world’s largest grid operator and power distributor, China State Grid Corp., has approved Echelon Corp.’s power line communications (PLC) technology and control operating system (COS)-powered data concentrator module from Echelon and Holley Metering Ltd.’s joint venture.

Zhejiang Echelon Holley Technology Co. Ltd. has received its first order for meter modules from Holley that incorporate Echelon’s PLC technology for use in a 30,000-smart meter pilot deployment in Inner Mongolia and has been selected for a pilot in Fuping county in the Shanxi province.

Inner Mongolia is expected to add 10 million new smart meters during the next five years, and the Shanxi province is targeting 10 million new smart meters during the next three years. When the deployment is completed in January 2013, the utility plans to expand the scale.

The Fuping pilot is being managed by the local utility, part of the Shanxi provincial utility. The 1,000-meter pilot that uses Echelon PLC technology has delivered nearly a 100 percent read rate.

Many more meters using the joint venture communications modules will be installed during the next few months to expand this pilot. If the Fuping pilot performs well, it could expand to other cities or counties in the Shanxi province that are serviced by the Shanxi utility, according to Echelon.

In addition, the Echelon Holley joint venture has sold its communications modules that incorporate Echelon technology for use in 11,000 smart meters in smaller pilot projects at 10 sites in five provinces.

State-owned China State Grid Corp. has outlined and is aggressively delivering on its five-year plan to upgrade China’s electricity grid. State Grid promises reliability of no less than 99.9 percent and on-site response within 45 minutes to repair service in urban areas. To reach these goals, it created a rigorous suite of tests that vendors must pass to participate in the future State Grid project to upgrade its 120 million meter-market during the next three years.

European Network for Cyber Security forming

European Network for Cyber Security forming

DNV KEMA and KPN, together with TNO and Radboud University, are setting up a new European cybersecurity knowledge center, the European Network for Cyber Security (ENCS), they announced during the Metering, Billing/Transmission & Distribution SmartGrids Europe 2012 Conference in Amsterdam.

ENCS will engage in research, testing, knowledge sharing and training in cybersecurity for critical infrastructure such as energy, water and telecom networks. The objective is to help infrastructure owners improve their protection against cybercrime. In view of the cross-border nature of cybercrime, ENCS seeks to involve as many parties as possible in this mission.

ENCS will make a contribution toward the optimal protection of European critical infrastructure against cybercrime. Critical infrastructure is becoming steadily more reliant on ICT and thus is increasingly vulnerable to cybercrime such as hacking. There is a growing need for new cybersecurity solutions and methods to protect these networks against such threats. ENCS is creating knowledge and resources and is facilitating cooperation among mainly European players as of yet in energy distribution, telecom, consultancy and public services with a view to the realization of user-oriented solutions.

ENCS provides four integrated services: research and development, cyber testing, training and information and knowledge sharing. In carrying out its activities, ENCS will use the knowledge and expertise of affiliated organizations such as other specialized knowledge institutes, universities and industrial parties. The primary focus of ENCS will be on a research and development program aimed at the needs of critical infrastructure managers and security officials who are responsible for protecting critical infrastructure. In addition, ENCS will seek to promote knowledge sharing among affiliated members. ENCS offers a facility for the extensive testing of systems designed to protect infrastructure and systems against cybercrime. Finally, ENCS will organize training programs to enhance cybersecurity awareness among critical infrastructure owners and policymakers, as well as provide more insight into realistic scenarios and develop new cybersecurity concepts.

All critical infrastructure owners, suppliers of ICT and smart grid applications, private and public knowledge institutes and public sector parties in Europe can become members of ENCS because cybersecurity challenges are national and cross-border in scope. The avoidance of cybersecurity incidents through research, testing, education and cooperation requires targeted cooperation and an international approach.

Demand-side management pilot with storage, immersion heaters begins on Shetland

Demand-side management pilot with storage

Shetland entered on Oct. 9 the next phase of the Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES) project to develop a smarter, more sustainable electricity system for the islands.

Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD), which owns and manages Shetland’s electricity network, and U.K. smart grid technology company Smarter Grid Solutions have launched an active network management (ANM) scheme that will control new demand and generation on Shetland. Six homes have been fitted with new generation storage and immersion heaters, which will consume power according to wind availability and will be controlled in real time to respond to electricity network constraints. In 2013 the trial will extend to manage demand in up to 750 Shetland homes. This initial trial will test the scope for large-scale demand-side management on Shetland, and the results will provide a blueprint for incorporating domestic demand-side management into future smart grids. The ANM scheme is designed to tackle the constraints of power flow, voltage, and system stability and balancing. In future phases, the scheme will integrate energy storage, industrial demand, new wind generation and other controlled resources to reduce reliance on the diesel-fuelled Lerwick Power Station and increase the penetration of renewable energy. The scheme deploys Smarter Grid Solutions’ real-time grid management technologies on commodity server hardware for the first time.

In Shetland, sgs connect, the local controller of the ANM scheme, is fitted in each home to interface between the heaters and the ANM scheme’s central control platform, sgs core. Each sgs connect works with the sgs balance application, which schedules and coordinates electricity supply and demand on the electricity network by issuing advance schedules and other control parameters. The ANM scheme monitors performance and provides updates to ensure fail-safe operation and that the network remains within safe operating limits. This enables operational benefits including connection of more renewable technologies.

Data collected from the six homes will be used by the University of Strathclyde to model the electricity demand and energy usage on Shetland to improve forecasting and provide the network balancing rules and scheduling models to inform and advise subsequent phases of the project.

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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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