NOTES

AEP Texas Seeks OK for Transmission Line Connecting Roserock Solar Farm

By Corina Rivera Linares, Chief Analyst, TransmissionHub

American Electric Power’s unit AEP Texas Inc., in an application received by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas, proposes to build a new 138-kV transmission line from the AEP Texas Solstice substation to the Roserock point of interconnection (POI) in Pecos County, Texas.

The project would provide service for the new RE Roserock LLC solar farm, which will have an output capacity of 157.5 MW net at the POI, the company said in its application to amend its certificate of convenience and necessity. AEP Texas added that the purpose of the transmission project is to provide a permanent interconnection for the solar farm to the transmission network.

AEP Texas map of Project
AEP Texas map of Project

The AEP Texas Solstice substation is under construction for other additional needs in the area, and is located just north of Interstate Highway 10 (I-10) and just east of the existing AEP Texas Barrilla Junction substation, the company said.

Until that transmission line is built to directly feed the Roserock solar farm into the AEP Texas Solstice substation, the Roserock solar farm will directly interconnect temporarily as a hard tap into the existing AEP Texas Barrilla to Ft. Stockton 138-kV transmission line.

The proposed Roserock POI location would be dependent on which route is approved by the PUC and would interconnect into the Roserock solar farm 138-kV hard tap transmission line, the company said. The point of interconnection to the Roserock solar farm from the 138-kV transmission temporary hard tap line would be at a dead-end structure and would be located at one of two locations, the company noted.

The length of the proposed line route would be between 4.44 miles and 5.07 miles, depending on the route selected by the PUC, the company said. The project would be built using single-pole steel structures, typically between 80 feet and 100 feet high.

The area traversed by the line is located about 26.5 miles directly west of the City of Fort Stockton in Pecos County, and borders I-10 to the north, the company said. The area lies within the Southern High Plains physiographic region of Texas, which forms flat plains with many playas and local dune fields and is primarily rural and undeveloped open shrubland, the company noted.

According to the estimated schedule, right of way and land acquisition, as well as engineering and design, would begin in July 2018, and be completed in January 2019. Material and equipment procurement would also begin in July 2018, and be completed in February 2019, while construction of the facilities would begin in February 2019, and be completed in August 2019, which is when the facilities would be energized, according to the schedule.

The route has an estimated cost of about $6.1 million, according to reports.


Massachusetts Units of Eversource, National Grid top ACEEE Report

By Rod Walton, Senior Editor

The ship has come in for the Bay State when it comes to energy efficiency efforts by utilities, according to a recent nationwide report.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE’s) first-ever Utility Scorecard has the Massachusetts wings of two utilities-Eversource Energy and National Grid-tied for first place. The ACEEE report ranked 51 utilities nationwide for their variety and impact of energy efficiency programs.

Massachusetts has aggressively sought advanced energy reduction and budgeted more than $500 million annually on measures to achieve those goals, according to reports. In fact, nine of the utilities are in states that finished in the top 10 of ACEEE’s earlier state energy efficiency scorecard.

“This really highlights the importance of state and regulatory support for efficiency,” said Grace Relf, lead author on the report.

Rounding out the top 11 ranked by ACEEE were Pacific Gas & Electric, Baltimore Gas & Electric, Eversource Connecticut, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, Commonwealth Edison, Portland General Electric and the Xcel Energy units in Colorado and Minnesota.

Baltimore Gas & Electric (now owned by Exelon) achieved a reported best peak demand savings of 2.54 percent. Relf credited the home state Empower Maryland Smart Energy Savers program with helping make possible the energy efficiency successes by BG&E.

Southern California Edison also was lauded for trying new things, including 12 different pilot projects in 2015. Xcel Minnesota drove to the front of the ACEEE’s ratings on electric vehicle integration because it offered extensive educational material and three different rate structures for EV owners-peak demand pricing, time of use and general residential rates.

“They had 456 subscribers to their time-of-use rates, much higher than a lot of utilities included in the scorecard,” Relf said. “And this indicates to me that their extensive education on website may encourage customers to take advantage of that rate option.”


AES, Siemens Join Forces to Create Energy Storage Firm Fluence

By Rod Walton, Senior Editor

Energy industry sector giants AES Corp. and Siemens AG have decided that one is better than two when it comes to energy storage solutions. The two companies are creating a global joint venture company called Fluence. It will operate independently of its two parent firms and focus on delivering the respective Advancion and Siestorage platforms to more than 160 countries.

“As the energy storage market expands, customers face the challenge of finding a trusted technology partner with an appropriate portfolio and a profound knowledge of the power sector,” Ralf Christian, CEO of Siemens’ Energy Management Division, said in a statement.

“Fluence will fill this major gap in the market,” Christian added.

AES’ Advancion Platform, meanwhile, has deployed more than 200 MW of energy storage in seven countries. It’s collaboration with Indianapolis Power & Light in 2016 was named POWERGRID International’s Project of the Year for grid optimization.

“Partnering with Siemens to form Fluence will offer both large and small customers the full gamut of proven, state-of-the-art energy storage solutions in over 160 countries,” AES CEO Andràƒ©s Gluski said in the release. “This will accelerate the integration of renewables into the energy network of tomorrow.”

Together, AES’ Energy Storage subsidiary and Siemen’s Energy Management have deployed or been awarded 48 projects totaling 463 MW of battery-based energy storage across 13 nations. One of those is the world’s largest lithium-ion project near San Diego.


Dominion Gets Corps Approval for Controversial Line Over James River

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted Dominion Energy a final permit to proceed with a towering power transmission line above the James River in Virginia. Project opponents say it will blight the views in one of the country’s most historic areas.

The utility has said its Surry-Skiffes Creek transmission line near Jamestown is urgently needed to provide reliable electric service to Virginia’s peninsula region, where two coal-fired power units were recently retired. The project, already approved by state regulators, will include a 500-kV portion that will cross about 4 miles of the James River lofted by 17 towers, some rising as high as 295 feet.

The line will traverse the James within Virginia’s Historic Triangle, a concentration of attractions that date to the nation’s founding. Besides Jamestown, founded in 1607, the region includes Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown and Carter’s Grove, a Colonial-era plantation.

James River
James River

“It is extremely disappointing that the Army Corps has agreed to let this destructive project move forward. These transmission towers, many the size of the Statue of Liberty, would deface a landscape that has stood for 400 years,” Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, said in a statement.

The conservation association is among numerous other preservation and environmental groups that oppose the project.

“We will continue to fight to protect historic Jamestown and are considering all options, including legal action,” Pierno said.

Company spokeswoman Le-Ha Anderson said Dominion carefully considered where the line would cross the James River to reduce impacts on views and the environment. The area also has views of a theme park, a sewage plant, condominiums and other commercial facilities, she said.

Dominion also pledged about $90 million in mitigation measures, including land conservation, shoreline protection and environmental initiatives in an agreement reached with the state, the Army Corps and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

The Army Corps’ sign-off means the only outstanding regulatory hurdle for the project is a county-level special use permit for a switching station.

The project is expected to take 18 to 20 months to complete.


Xcel Energy Offering Potential Solar Garden Connection for Low-Income Customers

Xcel Energy has proposed a pilot program giving low-income Minnesota customers more access to renewable energy.

In what Xcel called a “first of its kind program,” the utility will partner with Energy CENTS Coalition to help residents in St. Paul’s Railroad Island community subscribe to a local community solar garden. The proposal for the community solar garden was filed June 30 with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Xcel Energy will also seek approval to expand the program’s offerings to help residents in this community save energy and lower their energy bills.

“We’re excited to work with Energy CENTS Coalition and roll out a locally driven, grass roots project that gives the community access to solar energy while finding ways to reduce their energy usage,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota. “This program has great potential to save energy and increase renewable energy for this community and beyond.”

Energy CENTS Coalition and its community partner, Dayton’s Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services, will work with Xcel Energy on the project. Xcel Energy also will work with Thor Construction to develop a 0.5 MW community solar garden for the Railroad Island community.

Through this program, subscriptions will be available without a long-term commitment or a check of a subscriber’s credit score, which are common requirements for most community solar gardens in Minnesota. In addition, subscribers would not be responsible for any up-front payments and can terminate the contract at any time.

Building the community solar garden will be the first step in offering Railroad Island residents a complete solution to help with their energy bills. Xcel Energy will also be working with the community through the company’s Partners in Energy offering to promote access to the community solar garden and energy conservation.

Elements of this part of the program will include a free Home Energy Squad® visit for low income customers where experts identify and install low-cost efficiency measures and provide energy conservation tips. Pending approvals, this program is expected to launch in 2018.

Railroad Island, a community of about 2,200 people, was selected because many customers qualify for low income home energy assistance programs, live in older homes that use more energy and experience a spike in electrical usage during the winter months.


Critters Cause Havoc Across the Grid World

Mankind may hold dominion over all creatures great and small-or so he and she thinks-but sometimes the critters take their crack inside the comfort zone.

Two stories recently show how animals invaded power systems to cause outages in the U.S. and Africa. A snake slipped into a substation to cut service to Duke Energy customers in South Carolina, while a baboon knocked out power to a town in Zambia.

The baboon interfered with machinery at a power station in a tourist town near Victoria Falls, knocking out power to tens of thousands of people for several hours. State broadcaster ZNBC said the blackout affected residents in Livingstone and surrounding areas and reports that it was caused by an accident involving “a curious animal.”

ZNBC quotes power utility spokesman Henry Kapata as saying the baboon survived an electric shock and was handed over to wildlife officials for care.

People on social media joked about possible sabotage by the baboon, recalling that President Edgar Lungu has announced extra police powers to deal with alleged security challenges amid increasing political tension.

One Twitter user says the baboon is “not believed to be politically inclined.”

Meanwhile, the Associated Press also quoted utility officials saying a snake caused a power outage that left more than 4,000 customers without electricity in Greenville County, South Carolina.

Duke Energy spokesman Ryan Mosier told media outlets a snake crawled into a substation, disrupted service and left Greenville County residents in the dark for about 90 minutes.

Mosier says the utility constantly works to improve its barriers to prevent snakes, squirrels and birds from crawling into the electrical equipment at substations and causing outages. He said, however, it’s not uncommon, especially this time of year. Mosier said small animals remain a big reason for power outages.


Southwest Power Pool dissolving enforcement entity to focus on RTO

By Rod Walton, Senior Editor

Southwest Power Pool (SPP) is eliminating its role as a regional enforcer of grid rules to focus purely as a regional transmission organization involved in reliability coordination, market operations and planning.

Bowing to a nationwide movement among U.S. grid organizations, SPP is dissolving its SPP Regional Entity (RE) by the end of next year. In the meantime, the SPP Regional Transmission Authority (RTO) has expanded its oversight from eight to 14 central and southwest states in the past decade.

“Given that the footprints of the SPP RTO and SPP RE no longer align-due to our significant growth over the last decade and in light of further potential expansion opportunities to the west. . . (the organization’s leadership) made the strategic decision to focus on our core functions of reliability coordination, wholesale market operations and transmission planning. I believe this is in the long-term best interest of SPP and our members,” SPP CEO Nick Brown said in a statement.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) must approve the termination of the SPP RE. NERC already has given its encouragement for the move.

Once formally approved, all sides must smoothly transition those enforcement duties over 120 electric utilities to another compliance authority.

SPP pledged to keep the RE’s 24 employees in the 605-person workforce. The RE will keep its oversight function until a transition is completed by no later than Dec. 31, 2018.

The regional enforcement entity was created 10 years ago as part of a FERC-approved agreement between SPP and NERC. The RE covered all or part of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico and Texas.

SPP’s dual mandate, however, is a dying breed, the last from that time to operate both as an RTO and RE. The Florida Reliability Coordinating Council is the only registered entity handling such enforcement duties.

SPP was founded in 1941 when 11 regional power companies pooled their resources to keep Arkansas’ Jones Mill powered around the clock in support of critical, national defense needs. It now oversees power supply, transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale electricity prices for a 546,000-square-mile region including more than 60,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines.


Blackouts Lasting more than 24 Hours hit Gaza last Month

By Associated Press

The electricity supply to Gaza’s 2 million residents has dropped to unprecedented lows, with blackouts lasting for more than 24 hours, the territory’s power distribution company said, prompting fears of a humanitarian and environmental crisis.

The Palestinian enclave needs at least 400 megawatts of power a day, but only 70 megawatts were available as of late Wednesday, July 12, when Gaza’s power plant shut down after fuel shipments from Egypt were interrupted following a militant attack a week earlier.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights said the power cuts have caused a rapid deterioration in basic services, “especially health and environmental services, including water and sewage draining.”

AP Photo credit
AP Photo credit

The coastal strip had already been experiencing the worst electricity shortage in years, limiting Gazans to about four hours of electricity per day.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently asked Israel, the main provider of power to Gaza, to cut shipments as a way of pressuring the Islamic militant group Hamas, which seized power in Gaza a decade ago.

Several neighborhoods were without electricity for more than 24 hours on July 13.

Diesel fuel from neighboring Egypt had kept the station running at half capacity since June 21, but deliveries were interrupted after a deadly attack on Egyptian soldiers (the week of July 3) near the border. Gaza’s power station has low storage capacity, and requires new fuel shipments on an almost daily basis.

Abbas has tried to squeeze Hamas financially in recent months, hoping to force it to cede power. He slashed salaries of his employees there, stopped payments for ex-prisoners and reinstated heavy taxes on the power plant’s fuel.

Palestinians have been split since 2007, with Hamas ruling Gaza and Abbas governing parts of the West Bank. Repeated reconciliation attempts have failed.

The Egyptian diesel shipments were facilitated by Mohammed Dahlan, a former leading figure in Abbas’ Fatah movement who fell out with the Palestinian president in 2010, went into exile and has since forged strong ties with the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.


Electrify Europe will Charge into Vienna in 2018

By Kelvin Ross, Editor, Power Engineering International magazine

POWER-GEN Europe marked its 25th anniversary by opening a new chapter in the history of European energy industry trade shows.

The show’s owner, Pennwell Corp., unveiled Electrify Europe, the world’s first event dedicated to the convergence in the power generation and transmission and distribution sectors.

Vienna's Mess Wien center
Vienna’s Mess Wien center

Embracing the new pillars of the 21st century energy system-digitization, decentralization, electrification and customer engagement-the conference and exhibition will be held June 19-21, 2018, at the Messe Wien in Vienna.

Glenn Ensor, managing director of Pennwell’s International Division, said the new show was “responding to a dramatic shift in the European power market.”

“Electrify Europe is an entirely new concept designed to foster information exchange between established and new players for the creation of advanced solutions across an entire electricity value network that has the customer as its focus,” Ensor said. “Inspiring thought leadership, collaboration and innovation, Electrify Europe unites every aspect of the European market to transform the future of electricity.”

Representing an evolution built on 25 years of Pennwell’s POWER-GEN Europe Conference and Exhibition and incorporating DistribuTECH-North America’s leading event for utilities’ transmission and distribution businesses-Electrify Europe will attract key economic sectors in the energy space.

“Fundamental change is taking place in Europe in how electricity will be generated, delivered and consumed,” Ensor added. “Essential new relationships with heating, cooling and transportation are being forged. Digital technology is enabling this change by empowering consumers, delivering sustainability and ushering in new participants to provide innovative energy services. This is disruptive change, and while it will bring about some uncertainty, it also creates exciting opportunities for the smartest and best prepared.”

Featuring a multi-track conference and simultaneous exhibition, Electrify Europe will meet a genuine market need for a platform that provides clarity, facilitates connections, and drives the industry forward. With more than 12,000 attendees and 450 exhibitors expected, Electrify Europe will offer the continent’s largest hub for information, networking and lead generation.

For further information, visit www.electrify-europe.com.

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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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