CenterPoint Energy Teams With DOE, ABB to Improve Power Reliability

The Department of Energy (DOE), CenterPoint Energy and power and automation technology group ABB recently completed an initiative to advance the reliability of the Houston power network by deploying an advanced intelligent grid system.

The deployment includes ABB enterprise software solutions composed of an advanced distribution management system (ADMS) integrated with a mobile work force management system and an advanced outage analytics package that ties the systems together.

Five years ago, CenterPoint Energy won a $200 million Smart Grid Investment Grant to deliver benefits to consumers and the environment through the company’s Advanced Metering System (AMS) and Intelligent Grid (IG). The IG, which includes the ABB software solutions, is designed to improve service to the utility’s 2.3 million metered customers and includes installation of 31 substations and 771 intelligent grid-switching devices on 188 distribution circuits, making this deployment one of the world’s largest ADMS systems in operation.

Leveraging the ADMS software, this intelligent self-healing grid can identify, isolate and restore power outages more quickly.

Since 2011, it has helped customers avoid more than 100 million outage minutes.

ABB’s Network Manager DMS provides real-time monitoring and control, network analysis, network optimization and outage management for subtransmission, medium- and low-voltage distribution networks in an integrated software platform.

By efficiently managing their distribution assets, utilities can cope better with the continual changing world of distribution, improving reliability and efficiency and reducing the impact of outages.

“Collaborating with companies like ABB allows us to automate the grid and improve the way we operate,” said Kenny Mercado, senior vice president of electric operations at CenterPoint Energy. “Last year we saw power reliability improve by more than 28 percent, and we expect this trend to continue.”

S&C, Schneider Electric and Oncor Complete DER Microgrid

S&C Electric Company and Schneider Electric have announced the unveiling of one of the most advanced microgrids in North America for Oncor, an electric transmission and distribution company with 10 million customers across Texas.

The microgrid is engineered to maximize newly installed energy storage, renewable generation and improve reliability. S&C teamed with Schneider Electric to combine new hardware and software technologies for the facility, which includes an integrated demonstration center for Oncor to showcase the microgrid’s advanced capabilities and customer benefits.

S&C and Schneider Electric built the microgrid at Oncor’s System Operating Services Facility (SOSF) near Lancaster, Texas. The system consists of four interconnected microgrids and uses nine distributed generation sources, including two solar photovoltaic arrays, a microturbine, two energy storage units and four generators. To turn these diverse generation assets into a microgrid, S&C and Schneider Electric developed a distribution automation scheme that leverages intelligent grid solutions from both companies-enabling the four microgrids to operate independently or as one larger microgrid.

“Improving power reliability and optimizing generation assets requires disruptive technologies that allow customers to work on and off the grid,” said David Chiesa, director of microgrid business development at S&C. “Oncor’s microgrid is showing the world how utilities can help their communities in the future.”

During a loss-of-power event, a combination of S&C’s advanced distribution automation equipment and Schneider Electric’s Microgrid Controller (MGC) use high-speed communications and distributed grid intelligence to detect a problem automatically on the grid. It starts with S&C’s IntelliRupter PulseCloser fault interrupter, which detects an interruption in power, tests to see if the issue is temporary or permanent, and if it is permanent, dynamically islands the facility. The system then uses S&C’s Scada-Mate CX Switches and Vista Underground Distribution Switchgear to reconfigure the distribution system automatically while the MGC autonomously switches to alternative distributed power sources.

The energy storage systems are the backbone of the microgrid and include S&C’s PureWave Community Energy Storage System. The on-site energy storage, which stores energy from either the utility feed or any of the facility’s generation sources, provides the voltage signal for the site, enables renewable integration, controls the microgrid frequency and is the first generating source to respond during unexpected power loss.

The microgrid system also benefits from advanced grid technologies developed by Schneider Electric, including the PowerLogic load preservation system, the microgrid controller and a new technology called StruxureWare Demand Side Operations (DSO). Schneider Electric’s DSO model delivers economic optimization and dispatch of the microgrid distributed energy resources (DERs), allowing the system to maximize renewable energy usage and storage while minimizing energy costs. DSO’s platform makes this possible by leveraging market pricing signals, weather and forecasting information, historical energy usage data and real-time building information.

To help educate and demonstrate the benefits of microgrids to residents, students, policymakers and businesses, S&C and Schneider Electric were asked to develop a microgrid demonstration facility on the SOSF campus. That facility will be known as Oncor’s Technology Demonstration and Education Center (TDEC) and consists of two exhibits: an immersion room and a demonstration center. In the immersion room, the Oncor microgrid story is brought to life on seven screens for a full cinematic experience. The microgrid story highlights the history of the electric grid and the changes Oncor has made.

The center, which also serves as the SOSF microgrid control center, displays the new technology that Oncor is using on its system. The demonstration room features a fully functioning supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) representation of the microgrid to show how the system reacts to a loss of power event such as extreme weather. Once an event is created, the switching devices respond accordingly, clearing the fault, isolating the faulted section and restoring service from an alternate source. The switching devices, controls, communications and software shown are all real and completely functional. Tours of Oncor’s microgrid may be arranged by e-mailing

20 Zero Net Energy Homes to be Built in California Community

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) will lead an effort by three companies, a utility and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in evaluating the energy use and grid integration of a new community of at least 20 zero net energy houses, the first development of a community of highly efficient houses in the state.

Results from this project support EPRI’s work with utilities in the U.S. and abroad on a more integrated power system while propelling the CPUC’s objectives to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy in California.

Meritage Homes, BIRAenergy, Itron and Southern California Edison (SCE) will work with EPRI and the CPUC in building and evaluating the project, which will help California meet its “big bold goal” for all new houses in the state to be zero net energy by 2020 and meet the state’s stricter limitations of carbon emissions.

Zero net energy houses, with help from the grid, are designed to generate the same amount of energy that they consume. They have been a central goal of California strategies aimed at increasing energy efficiency and reducing carbon dioxide emissions; however, they were neither cost-effective nor available for most homebuyers until recently.

Zero net energy houses still rely on the grid, both to absorb excess solar generation during the day and to deliver power at night. During the next several years, the project team will study how these houses and their advanced technologies can be integrated effectively into the utility’s electric grid. Simultaneously, researchers will investigate avenues that improve the scalability and economic feasibility of these communities across the state.

Meritage Homes designed the houses in the development. The dwellings feature such items as high-efficiency solar panels, HVAC systems, water-heating equipment, heat pumps and integrated fresh air ventilation. In addition, each will have spray foam insulation, highly insulated windows, energy-efficient lighting, smart chargers and smart appliances. With these technologies, the homes are projected to curb energy use as much as 60 percent compared with a house built to the latest California Energy Code.

The model houses range from 1,936 to 2,915 square feet.

EYE ON the world

Locamation BV signs MoU with Liaoning Construction of Power Transmission & Transformation Project Co.

Locamation B.V. recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Liaoning Construction of Power Transmission & Transformation Project Co. Ltd. (Liaoning) during an official ceremony in Shenzhen, China.

The MoU confirms exclusive cooperation for the supply of substation automation and smart grid technology for the Shenzhen Low Carbon City Project. The MoU was signed during a trade mission led by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who facilitated the ceremony and witnessed the signing of the agreement.

The agreement covers the supply and installation for the Shenzhen Low Carbon City Project, where both parties have agreed to take part in an innovation consortium. The MoU was signed by Jia Wu of Liaoning Construction of Power Transmission & Transformation Project Co. Ltd. and Locamation B.V Chief Operating Officer Pascal Bleeker.

The Shenzhen region has been earmarked by the Chinese government as the country’s most innovative region. Locamation is proud to have its products installed in this region.

“We are happy with the backing of our prime minister, who provided personal support to allow the partnership with Liaoning to succeed,” Bleeker said.

Siemens develops gas-insulated transmission line for high-voltage DC

Berlin Technical University and Dresden University of Applied Sciences, among others, are working under the lead management of Siemens on developing a new gas-insulated DC transmission line known as the DC CTL (Compact Transmission Line for Direct-Current High Voltage) for laying underground.

The new line is designed to transmit up to 5 GW of power per system. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) is providing 3.78 million euros in this development project.

The DC CTL will be based on the technology of the existing gas-insulated transmission line (GIL), which consists of two concentric aluminum tubes. A mixture of gases is used as the insulating medium. Until now, the GIL has been available only for alternating current. The challenge for the DC CTL is posed by the special design of the components, taking into account their specific properties at high direct voltages. Because of its significantly higher current carrying capacity of up to 5,000 amperes (A), the DC variant of the GIL would not only be able to transmit the required amounts of electrical power more efficiently compared with cable in the future grid upgrade; it also would make power transmission routes more environmentally compatible and cheaper.

Expansion of the transmission grid is necessary if 80 percent of demand for electrical energy in Germany is to be covered by renewable energy sources by 2050. The power generated by wind turbines in the north of the country and off the German coast will need to be transported as efficiently as possible to the load centers in southern Germany. Direct current transmission is the method of choice for doing this because of its low electrical losses compared with alternating current transmission. Developing the grid using high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmission technology with overhead power lines and gas-insulated DC transmission lines buried underground over certain sections could be implemented using considerably less resources than three-phase technology.

“The underground DC transmission line is of significance for Germany’s transition to a new energy mix because its development will initially take place in Germany,” said Denis Imamovic, who is responsible for gas-insulated transmission systems at Siemens Energy Management Division. “Later on, inquiries from other countries in the EU or elsewhere in the world would be quite possible. In any case, with development of the gas-insulated DC transmission line, Germany will play a pioneering role in the design of future energy transmission systems.”

Integration of renewable energy sources in existing power transmission and distribution systems challenges Germany’s energy transition. The continuation of overhead power routes sectionwise underground in the form of a gas-insulated transmission line represents a key piece of the route planning mosaic, since possible corridors for new overhead lines are restricted because of existing buildings. Gas-insulated DC lines can handle the power from an overhead line with the same number of conductors. This means that the substations and transmission corridors can be designed to take up less space, which makes them more cost-efficient.

Use of the DC-GIL also will allow the advantages of gas-insulated transmission technology to be exploited for the new HVDC multiterminal systems and networks, as well. This would make the vision of a transmission grid with superimposed DC a reality. HVDC systems in conjunction with gas-insulated DC transmission lines routed sectionwise underground are perfectly suited as a key technology for this.

Silver Spring Networks wins comprehensive smart city deployment in Paris

EVESA, the operator responsible for managing the street light and traffic control systems in Paris, has expanded its relationship with Silver Spring Networks Inc. to deploy a citywide canopy network that connects the above-ground and subterranean cabinet-based controllers for street and traffic lights across the city, including such iconic neighborhoods as the Louvre, Hotel-de-Ville, Palais-Bourbon, Elysee, the Bourse and remaining arrondissements, Silver Spring Networks announced.

“With more than 2 million citizens and 16 million annual visitors, modernizing the public lighting infrastructure for the city of lights while preserving its world-renowned aesthetic is a crucial undertaking,” said Scott Lang, chairman, president and CEO of Silver Spring Networks. “We are excited to now complete the first phase of our project and extend our relationship with EVESA to deploy a smart city canopy network across Paris. EVESA’s diligent planning and intense technology testing help ensure the citizens of Paris receive a globally proven, highly reliable and secure smart city solution.”

Silver Spring’s smart city platform helps municipalities deploy intelligent lighting systems that improve system reliability, increase energy efficiency, lower operational costs, extend equipment life spans and enhance citizen safety and quality of life. The open, standards-based solution also enables cities to establish a platform for future smart city applications and services such as traffic management, environmental sensors, smart parking, electric vehicle charging, electricity metering, water conservation and many others.

In addition to Paris, Silver Spring recently has been selected by Florida Power & Light for what is believed to be the world’s largest connected lighting project with nearly 500,000 networked street lights across South Florida. Silver Spring also is connecting critical infrastructure in Bristol, Chicago, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Melbourne, Miami, Sao Paulo, San Francisco, Singapore and Washington, D.C., and has delivered more than 20 million IPv6-networked devices for critical infrastructure networks on five continents.

EYE ON the world : Continued

Leclanchàƒ© joins Younicos in delivering renewable energy-powered microgrid to Graciosa

Swiss battery manufacturer Leclanchàƒ© will play a key role in the renewable energy project being developed in Graciosa by Younicos, a German-American specialist in renewable energy integration.

Leclanchàƒ© will provide the complete Battery Energy Storage Solution (BESS), using its industry-leading lithium-ion batteries, which will be combined with Younicos Energy Management software. In addition, an affiliate of Recharge ApS, one of Leclanchàƒ©’s largest shareholders, will provide 3.5 million euros in convertible debt financing to the project’s operating company Graciolica, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Younicos. Both announcements are milestones that will help accelerate implementation of the project in the coming weeks and will ensure substantial progress during 2015.

The world’s first megawatt-scale renewable energy plus storage system, being built on the island of Graciosa in the Azores (Portugal), will set new standards for islands worldwide. Furthermore, by stabilizing the grid without the rotating mass of a conventional thermal engine, the system will enable the grid to be fully powered by wind and solar energy. The centerpiece of the system is a fully automated, intelligently managed 2.8-MW battery park integrated into the intelligent energy management system developed by Younicos. In addition, the system will incorporate wind (4.5 MW) and solar (1 MW) power resources and intelligent inverters. The renewable energy-powered grid will boost the island’s annual share of renewable energies from a previous limit of 15 percent to up to 65 percent and allow the island to reduce its dependence on fuel imports.

“This is an exciting partnership on many levels,” said James P. McDougall, CEO of Younicos. “We have long been intrigued by Leclanchàƒ©’s BESS and are confident that, coupled with our software, it will provide an extremely stable backbone of a fundamentally new energy system. At the same time, working with an industry-leading battery manufacturer such as Leclanchàƒ©, and with Recharge as financing partner, underscores the ability of Younicos to lead microgrid projects worldwide.”

Bristol-Myers Squibb, CalPortland, Corning Inc., Eastman Chemical Co., Saint-Gobain Win EPA Energy Star Partner of the Year Awards

The Industrial Energy Consumers of America (IECA) congratulates CalPortland, Eastman Chemical Co. and Saint-Gobain for receiving the 2015 Energy Star Partner of the Year-Sustained Excellence Award and Bristol-Myers Squibb and Corning Inc. for receiving the 2015 Energy Star Partner of the Year Award for their voluntary public-private partnership work to manage and improve energy efficiency.

“This is an outstanding accomplishment that few companies achieve and says a lot about leadership and the relentless commitment in pursuit of energy efficiency improvement that benefits competitiveness and the environment,” said Paul Cicio, president of IECA.

Bristol-Myers Squibb

“The Energy Star program helps companies actively assess their energy programs and obtain graded feedback from the EPA on several different categories of energy management,” said Carol Powell, global head and vice president of environment, health, safety and sustainability. “In selecting us for this recognition, the EPA and DOE considered not only the company’s measurable energy savings but also the effectiveness of its overall energy management program, including policies and management support. We gain tremendous value from benchmarking and collaborating on best practices and energy strategy both within our industry and across industries, including through the Energy Star Pharmaceutical Focus Group, which includes more than 15 peer companies.”


“CalPortland has been an Energy Star partner since 1996,” said Allen Hamblen, president and CEO of CalPortland. “For nearly two decades, that relationship has been instrumental in the continuous improvement of our energy program. We have established a core culture of energy management that includes all levels of the company’s operations. Our employees are very proud of their accomplishments to improve energy efficiency, reduce emissions and contribute to the protection of our environment while reducing cost.”

Corning Inc.

“We’re honored to be named an Energy Star Partner of the Year for the second consecutive year,” said Wendell P. Weeks, chairman and CEO of Corning. “We committed ourselves to ongoing improvements, and this award demonstrates that we are making terrific progress in our energy journey. This is also a great example of how we can do well by doing good. Responsible energy management helps us maintain the trust of our stakeholders, control costs and compete more effectively in a global economy. In other words, we are investing in Corning’s future as well as the health of our planet.”

Eastman Chemical Co.

“It is an honor to be recognized once again by the EPA with the Energy Star Partner of the Year-Sustained Excellence Award,” said Mark Costa, chairman and CEO of Eastman. “This achievement is a testament to the hard work and commitment of the men and women at Eastman who continue to chart new territory for our industry in sustainability. I could not be more proud of our worldwide energy team and deeply appreciate the tremendous effort required throughout the company to drive improvements and achieve this recognition.”


“Saint-Gobain’s 350-year history is rooted in the innovation and manufacturing of building materials that enable people across the globe to live in more efficient, comfortable and healthy environments,” said John Crowe, president and CEO of Saint-Gobain and its North American construction materials subsidiary, CertainTeed Corp. “As Saint-Gobain looks to the future, we believe that a sustainable habitat is within our reach and will continue to develop innovative, effective methods to reduce the environmental impact of our solutions, plants and processes across our entire family of companies in North America.”

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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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