GE and AEP Debut Integrated Distribution Operating Platform

GE and American Electric Power (AEP) recently launched their Integrated Distribution Operating Platform (IDOP), a software integration of GE’s asset management and asset control systems. The IDOP is a joint program between GE and AEP that integrates key business areas of operations, maintenance and construction in a significant step toward smart grid interoperability. The IDOP program connects GE’s primary utility software solution offerings-geospatial information system (GIS), outage management system (OMS) and advanced distribution management system (ADMS)-to bring enhanced stability, security and efficiencies to AEP’s operations.

Historically, the functionality delivered by IDOP was provided by multiple vendors and required utility operators to manage multiple applications from multiple workstations. The IDOP platform eliminates this complexity for AEP by deploying three integrated software products the utility can control from a single work station. The new program also can provide real-time network information to standardize data presentation and visualization, simplified alarm management, streamlined workflow and knowledge sharing.

Deployment of the three applications throughout AEP will be completed in May 2016. IDOP is the first deployment of GE’s PowerOn Advantage ADMS in the U.S.

“The IDOP applications are critical to distribution operations as they impact the key areas of asset management, distribution SCADA management and outage restoration,” said Tom Kirkpatrick, vice president customer services, marketing and distribution services for AEP. “These applications are also the foundation of managing the grid of the future-a grid that will be smarter, more resilient and able to adapt to needs of a rapidly changing distribution system incorporating distributed generation and storage devices throughout the grid. Our customers will benefit from the improved efficiency of operation, more effective outage restoration and improved customer communications”

GE and AEP share a history in the area of transmission and distribution solutions, specifically software solutions. In 2008, AEP formed an alliance with GE to support its gridSMART initiatives around electric grid efficiency and grid reliability improvements. Since then, GE has continued to deliver software solutions to AEP.

BRIDGE Energy Survey Shows Grid Modernization Gaining Traction

More than 20,000 utility executives, managers and engineers reveal that a growing mosaic of grid modernization work is driving smarter networks, more engaged customers and better integration of distributed energy resources across North America, according to a survey by BRIDGE Energy Group.

The annual utility survey provides insight into the grid modernization activities and priorities of North American utilities. Utilities still rate reliability as a primary objective, although its relative importance has declined for the second consecutive year, with only 66 percent of respondents rating reliability as priority No. 1 or 2. Forty-one percent of utilities are focused on improving operations through work and asset management, and 34 percent consider customer empowerment a priority. Other industry questions addressed include:

“- How many utilities are planning to deploy a distribution management system (DMS)?

“- How many utilities rate improved grid flexibility and efficiency as a top objective?

“- Who has smart meters deployed within their service territories?

“- Are SCADA and smart meters really playing a noticeable role in outage notifications?

The survey also confirmed that modernizing the grid is having a positive effect on customer service. Sixty-three percent surveyed indicated that SCADA systems and smart meters are now their primary source of outage alerts on blue-sky days-up from 42 percent in 2014. In addition, 57 percent of those surveyed indicated that SCADA systems and smart meters are now their primary source of outage alerts during storms-up from 46 percent in 2014.

“Survey results emphasize that utilities remain focused on grid reliability and improving operations in the face of a changing energy landscape,” said Forrest Small, BRIDGE Energy Group’s vice president of grid optimization strategy. “Over the last two years, BRIDGE has worked with utilities on grid modernization activities in California, Massachusetts and New York, and we find that these states are driving real change that is gaining momentum across the United States.”

BRIDGE Energy Group executives appeared in two presentations during the 2016 DistribuTECH Conference and Exposition Feb. 9-11 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

The full Utility Industry Survey on Grid Modernization with Outage & Restoration Management Survey Results Summary report can be requested by contacting or downloaded by visiting

Tripwire Study: Only 35 Percent of Energy IT Pros Track Threats

Tripwire Inc., a global provider of advanced threat, security and compliance solutions, announced the results of a study on the cybersecurity challenges faced by organizations in the energy sector. The study was conducted for Tripwire by Dimensional Research in November 2015, and respondents included more than 150 IT professionals in the energy, utilities and oil and gas industries.

According to Tripwire’s study, 82 percent of the respondents said a cyberattack on the operational technology (OT) in their organization could cause physical damage. When asked if their organization has the ability to accurately track all the threats targeting their OT networks, however, 65 percent said “no.”

Additional findings from the study include:

“- More than three out of four respondents (76 percent) believe their organizations are targets for cyberattacks that could cause physical damage.

“- Seventy-eight percent of respondents said their organizations are potential targets for nation-state cyberattacks.

“- One-hundred percent of energy executive respondents believe a kinetic cyberattack on operational technology would cause physical damage.

“The incredibly high percentages of these responses underscore the need for these industries to take material steps to improve cyber security,” said Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy for Tripwire. “These threats are not going away. They are getting worse.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the energy sector faces more cyberattacks than any other industry, and attacks on industrial control system networks are on the rise. If successful, these energy sector cyberattacks could have a dramatic physical impact. In December 2015, BlackEnergy malware was used in an attack against a power plant in the Ukraine and left more than 700,000 customers without electricity.

“We’ve already seen the reality of these responses in the Ukraine mere months after this survey was completed. There can be no doubt that there is a physical safety risk from cyberattacks targeting the energy industry today,” Erlin said.” While the situation may seem dire, in many cases there are well understood best practices that can be deployed to materially reduce the risk of successful cyberattacks.”

Another report, released in September 2015 by cybersecurity ratings BitSight, indicates that the energy industry only ranks fair to middling when it comes to cybersecurity efforts. The energy-utility sector was ranked fourth among sectors, slightly above health care and behind finance, government and retail. Education was categorized, far and away, as the most vulnerable to cyberattack by BitSight.

BitSight researchers noted a dip in the energy-utility sector, finding it most vulnerable to malevolent bugs such as Poodle and Freak. The report indicated a growing concern about the cybersecurity posture of these companies even as more control systems are being brought online.

A USA Today report earlier in 2015 indicated that the U.S. Department of Energy was under constant siege in recent years, with 1,131 attempted cyberattacks from 2010-2014. The hackers were successful about 14 percent of the time, or in 159 of the attempts, according to the article.

By Tom Tiernan- Senior Analyst, Transmission Hub

DOE Draft Report Recommends Spending on Transmission, Grid Technologies

The Obama administration proposed its Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) budget for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) last month, which includes an increase for DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability compared with the enacted FY16 budget.

That office contains programs for smart grid technologies, transmission and distribution reliability and resiliency, distributed energy resources, energy storage, cybersecurity efforts and other research and development programs.

The FY17 request, which was sent to Congress and is subject to changes through the appropriations process, has $262.3 million proposed for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, a 27.3 percent increase from the $206 million in the enacted FY16 budget, DOE said in a Feb. 9 statement. The office aids grid modernization activities “to support a smart, resilient electric grid for the 21st century and fund critical emergency response and grid security capabilities,” DOE said.

Transmission spending efforts are littered throughout the DOE FY17 budget document, with some projects slated for increased funding from the enacted FY16 budget and others proposed to receive less funding compared with FY16.

For instance, the Clean Energy Transmission and Reliability program is proposed to receive $30.3 million in FY17 compared with $39 million enacted in FY16, while the Transformer Resilience and Advanced Components (TRAC) program is proposed to receive $15 million in FY17, a $10 million jump from the $5 million enacted in FY16.

The TRAC program is designed to mitigate power system vulnerabilities to geomagnetic disturbances and other challenges to fill a gap identified in the 2015 Quadrennial Technology Review (QTR) and build on efforts identified in the 2015 Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), DOE said.

The Clean Energy Transmission and Reliability program is focused on “ensuring the reliability and resiliency of the U.S. electric grid through research and development on measurement and control of the electricity system and risk assessment to address challenges across integrated energy systems,” according to the FY17 budget document.

The request for that program “supports competitive awards to academia, national laboratories and industry, and leverages resources of the DOE Office of Science and the National Science Foundation to advance scientific discovery,” while reducing funding for cost-shared industry demonstration projects and synchrophasor applications, DOE said.

The FY17 budget request supports ongoing implementation of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan and builds on the recommendations in the QER and QTR to enhance energy infrastructure, improve grid reliability and address increased integration of renewable resources in the nation’s generation portfolio, DOE said.

Elsewhere in the proposed DOE budget for FY17, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is slated to receive $2.89 billion, a 40.1 percent increase from the $2.06 billion in the enacted FY16 budget.

Energy storage in the FY17 request was proposed to receive $44.5 million, more than double the $20.5 million from the enacted FY16 budget.

Overall, the Obama administration proposed a DOE budget of $32.5 billion, a gain of $2.9 billion from the enacted FY16 level of $29.6 billion.

In a fact sheet, DOE said that other highlights of the FY17 budget include:

“- $6.1 billion for environmental management to address the obligation to clean up the nuclear legacy of the Cold War, including $271 million to maintain critical progress toward returning the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to normal operations, with the goal of restarting limited operations in 2016.

“- $5.67 billion for Science to continue to lead basic research in the physical sciences and develop and operate cutting-edge scientific user facilities while strengthening the connection between advances in fundamental science and technology innovation.

“- $2.89 billion, an increase of 40 percent, for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to continue a diverse suite of sustained investment in development of renewable generation technologies, sustainable transportation technologies and manufacturing technologies; and in efforts to enhance energy efficiency in our homes, buildings and industries.

“- $1.3 billion for 21st Century Clean Transportation to expand investment in transportation technologies of the future, establish regional fueling infrastructure to support the deployment of low-carbon fuels and accelerate the transition to a cleaner vehicle fleet.

“- $994 million for Nuclear Energy to support vital ongoing R&D in advanced reactor technology as part of a low-carbon future.

“- $600 million for DOE’s Fossil Energy program to advance carbon capture and storage and natural gas technologies, and $257 million for the strategic petroleum reserve to increase the system’s durability and reliability and begin addressing the backlog of deferred maintenance.

“- $8.4 million for the Office of Technology Transitions to help get technologies out of national laboratories and to the market.


Obama Administration Vows to Press Ahead on CPP Despite Court Stay

The administration of President Obama is vowing to press ahead with efforts to curtail greenhouse gas emissions after a divided Supreme Court put his signature plan to address climate change on hold until after legal challenges are resolved.

The surprising move by the court Feb. 9 is a blow to Obama and a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents, who call the power plant regulations “an unprecedented power grab.”

By issuing the temporary freeze, a 5-4 majority of the justices (Editor’s note: The Court voted a few days before the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.) signaled that opponents made strong arguments against the rules. The high court’s four liberal justices said they would have denied the request for delay.

The administration’s plan aims to stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by about one-third by 2030.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration’s plan is based on a strong legal and technical foundation, and gives the states time to develop cost-effective plans to reduce emissions. He also said the administration will “take aggressive steps to make forward progress to reduce carbon emissions.”

A federal appeals court in Washington in January refused to put the plan on hold. That lower court is not likely to issue a ruling on the legality of the plan until months after it hears oral arguments beginning on June 2.

Any decision will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court, meaning resolution of the legal fight is not likely to happen until after Obama leaves office.

Compliance with the new rules isn’t required until 2022, but states must submit their plans to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by September or seek an extension.

Many states opposing the plan depend on economic activity tied to such fossil fuels as coal, oil and gas. They argued that the plan oversteps federal authority to restrict carbon emissions, and that electricity providers would have to spend billions of dollars to begin complying with a rule that might end up being overturned.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia, whose coal-dependent state is helping lead the legal fight, hailed the court’s decision.

“We are thrilled that the Supreme Court realized the rule’s immediate impact and froze its implementation, protecting workers and saving countless dollars as our fight against its legality continues,” Morrisey said.

Implementation of the rules is considered essential to the United States meeting emissions-reduction targets in a global climate agreement signed in Paris last month. The Obama administration and environmental groups also say the plan will spur new clean-energy jobs.

In opposing the request for delay, the EPA argued that states had plenty of time to comply with the requirements as the rule is rolled out over the next six years.

“A stay that delays all of the rule’s deadlines would postpone reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and thus contribute to the problem of global climate change even if the rule is ultimately sustained,” U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said in legal filings.

Environmentalists were stunned by the court’s action, which they stressed did not reflect a decision on the relative strength of the administration’s case.

“The Clean Power Plan has a firm anchor in our nation’s clean air laws and a strong scientific record, and we look forward to presenting our case on the merits in the courts,” said Vickie Patton, a lawyer for Environmental Defense Fund, which is a party to the case.

To convince the high court to temporarily halt the plan, opponents had to convince the justices that there was a “fair prospect” the court might strike down the rule. The court also had to consider whether denying a stay would cause irreparable harm to the states and utility companies affected.

The unsigned, one-page order blocks the rules from taking effect while the legal fight plays out in the appeals court and during any further appeal to the Supreme Court, a process that easily could extend into 2017.

Eaton, AES Unit Selling Energy Storage in Europe, Africa, Middle East

Power management company Eaton and The AES Corp., through its unit, AES Energy Storage, signed an agreement under which Eaton will offer AES’ Advancion energy storage platform as the core of its grid-scale, integrated energy storage systems to help manage grid stability and peak demand infrastructure.

The agreement is part of an AES initiative with select companies to ensure the global availability of the Advancion energy storage platform.

Eaton will supply the energy storage systems, provide support and ensure long-term operation directly to utilities, industrial and commercial customers, independent power producers and power system operators across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The ambitious goals set by many countries, especially within the European Union, and confirmed during the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21), call for an ever larger role for renewables in the power supply mix, and European countries are leading this change.

Energy storage has become a key factor in helping countries manage both grid stability, as renewable energy sources continue to be integrated into the grid, as well as peak demand, limiting the need to build dedicated peaking power plants and minimizing carbon dioxide emissions. The energy storage market is entering a new growth phase. Navigant Research projects that more than 11 GW of energy storage capacity will be installed annually by 2020 in 22 countries.

“Together, Eaton and AES will be able to greatly impact the energy landscape in EMEA,” said Cyrille Brisson, vice president of marketing for Eaton’s electrical business in EMEA. “By providing market-leading, innovative energy storage systems to commercial, industrial and utility customers, we will be able to mitigate the investment needed for, and the charges and emissions resulting from peak demand infrastructure. The widespread deployment of systems enabling peak capacity, flexible generation and grid services, coupled with the easy consumption of renewables, will help a smarter grid meet environmental targets.”

“We see energy storage as key to a clean, unbreakable grid equipped to deliver power from the most efficient and cost-effective sources,” said John Zahurancik, president of AES Energy Storage. “Working with leading companies, like Eaton, provides a path for the rapid adoption of energy storage in important global markets.”

AES provides energy solutions through its portfolio of distribution businesses and generation facilities. AES has integrated energy storage into eight different power markets and AES’ energy storage solutions represent the world’s largest advanced energy storage fleet, with 116 MW in operation and three million megawatt-hours of delivered service. Advancion is also now powering the largest fleet of advanced energy storage in Europe, with the recent completion of two Advancion arrays in the Netherlands and Northern Ireland.

ABB to Supply 66-kV Switchgear Substations in Singapore

ABB has won an order from SP PowerGrid to supply four 66 kV gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) substations for the city-state of Singapore.

The project is part of SP PowerGrid’s continuous efforts to strengthen the efficiency and reliability of its transmission and distribution networks and to meet the growing demand for power in Singapore’s industrial, commercial and residential sectors.

As part of the turnkey contract, ABB will design, engineer, supply and install the GIS substations, which include control and protection systems as well as ancillary equipment. The scope also includes replacement of aging equipment at two existing facilities to strengthen the national grid by increasing capacity and enhancing power reliability. The contract is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

The GIS technology will benefit SP PowerGrid by reducing its substations’ footprint, as compared to that of conventional air-insulated switchgear (AIS). This technology will also increase the substations’ power capacity, allowing SP PowerGrid to cater for future demand.

Singapore Power (SP) Group is one of the largest corporations in Singapore and a leading energy utility group in the Asia Pacific region. As an owner and operator, the group provides electricity and gas transmission and distribution services in Singapore and Australia, and district cooling in Singapore and China. Singapore Power’s electricity grid is rated among the world’s best performing networks based on international benchmarks.

Prysmian to Connect Netherlands, Denmark With Submarine Power Line

Energy and telecom cabling firm Prysmian Group, won a contract worth around $278 million for a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) submarine interconnector that will link Denmark and the Netherlands, by TenneT TSO B.V. and SOV, the operators of the Dutch and Danish power transmission grids, respectively.

The COBRAcable (“COpenhagen BRussels Amsterdam” cable) will provide benefit to the electricity grids of both countries involved, as it will make Dutch power capacity structurally available to Denmark and vice versa, increasing security of supply and enabling the further integration of renewable energy into the electricity grids.

The COBRAcable interconnector will therefore contribute to the realization of a sustainable international energy landscape, a key aim of the European Union, which is to support the project through the European Energy Program for Recovery.

The connection will be constructed using HVDC technology, which minimizes transmission losses over the long distances involved.

The contract awarded to Prysmian involves the turn-key supply and installation of an HVDC bipole-using single core cables with extruded insulation technology-that will operate at a voltage level of ±320 kV with a rating of about 700 MW, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of all households in the cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam combined.

It will run along a total route of around 200 miles, from Eemshaven, The Netherlands, to Endrup, Denmark via the German sector of the North Sea, and will include two onshore lengths of 1,000 yards on the Dutch side and 15 miles on the Danish side to link to the onshore converter stations, which are to be provided by Siemens under separate contract.

All cables will be produced in Arco Felice (near Naples, Italy) and Pikkala (near Helsinki, Finland), the Group’s centres of technological and manufacturing excellence for submarine cables. Prysmian is currently building on about $11 million worth of recent investments made in its Pikkala factory to increase its manufacturing capacity of extruded HV submarine cables by upgrading its existing production lines.

The marine cable laying activities, which will be performed by the Group’s own cable-laying vessels, the Cable Enterprise and the Giulio Verne, will also see the use of their newly acquired barge.

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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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