Bodman, DOE designate first ‘national interest transmission corridors’

U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman on April 26 announced the issuance of the first two draft “national interest electric transmission corridor” designations during the GridWeek Conference in Washington D.C.

A packed amphitheater at The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center listened as Bodman announced that two areas, one in the mid-Atlantic area and one in the Southwest region of the U.S. have transmission congestion issues that “pose a national concern.” Bodman made the announcement on the final day of the GridWeek conference here in the nation’s capitol. Utility industry leaders, technology suppliers, regulators and others had gathered here at GridWeek to discuss grid modernization technologies and policies.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized the Secretary, based on the findings of DOE’s National Electric Transmission Congestion Study (Congestion Study), to designate such national interest corridors.

Bodman and the DOE issued draft “national corridor” designations that comprise two geographic areas where consumers are currently adversely affected by transmission capacity constraints or congestion. The proposed Mid-Atlantic Area National Corridor includes counties in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and all of New Jersey, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. The proposed Southwest Area National Corridor includes counties in California, Arizona, and Nevada.

“At a regional level, a significant transmission constraint and congestion problem exists,” Bodman said, noting that the designation of national interest corridors is meant to “connect places that need relief with places that have potential to supply more power.”

Bodman noted that the draft designations are being issued after months of careful study by DOE, which included close consideration of public comments on a congestion study, released by the department last August. The designated areas were issued in “draft” form to allow additional opportunities for review and comment by affected states, regional entities and the general public, according to the DOE.

Bodman cited growing electricity demand and years of underinvestment in the grid as being the culprits behind a “very real and serious challenge.”

“The grid has become more susceptible to human error and natural disaster,” Bodman said. “We must recognize the need for higher levels of reliability… higher levels than that for which the grid was designed.”

The government must put policies in place to support grid modernization, Bodman said.

With these drafts, Bodman said that the DOE is urging the industry to look at all options for strengthening the grid, not just the build-out of new transmission infrastructure. “But no matter what states decide to do, new transmission capacity must be considered part of the solution,” Bodman said.

Bodman also called for “substantial and sustained investments in R&D” and noted that policies need to be in place to promote that investment. Among the specific technologies that Bodman said needed R&D work were:

  • High-temperature superconducting cables and power electronics;
  • Modeling and simulation for wide area measurement and management;
  • Microgrids;
  • Advancements in sensors and communications technology; and
  • Control systems that are resistant to physical and cyber attacks.

“We must not ignore the threat of terrorism,” Bodman said, adding that improving the physical security of the grid remains paramount in importance.

Bodman cited electrification as the greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century, during his address, but said, “This system is aging and it is stressed. It is no longer adequate to meet the demands of the 21st century.”-Steve Brown, editor in chief

What do We Want? A Modern Grid. When do We Want it? Now!

Arcadian Networks, EnerNex Corporation, GridAgents, Horizon Energy Group LLC and UTInnovation LLC announced a strategic services alliance called GridNet NOW at GridWeek 2007.

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GridNet NOW will focus on the smart grid requirements of municipal and cooperative utilities. The new alliance offers a comprehensive, cost effective suite of services helping utilities plan, develop, implement and manage a successful path to electric transmission and distribution grid modernization.

The GridNet NOW services have been designed specifically to assist these utilities in modernizing their electric distribution networks, addressing a market largely ignored by the large information technology and business transformation consulting firms.

“This is not just another alliance doing research, scoping and selling transmission and distribution system hardware,” said Erich Gunther, chairman of Enernex and a representative of GridNet Now. “We are focusing on ensuring that the smaller utilities can also realize the benefits of the next generation smart grid.”

EPRI Loses its Shining Starr

Dr. Chauncey Starr, 95, founder and President Emeritus of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), died in April at his home in Atherton, Calif., one day after attending a celebration in his honor at the Institute that was attended by more than 200 of his research colleagues.

Starr believed that a collaborative research approach could most effectively address the industry’s challenges. So, he formed EPRI in 1972 as a research and development organization to address those challenges.

At the time of his death, Starr was actively working on the development of the “SuperGrid” utilizing superconductors to transport electricity with near-zero energy losses.

Prior to establishing EPRI, Chauncey Starr was dean of the UCLA School of Engineering and Applied Science (1966-1973). While at UCLA, he directed a research effort on societal safety in technical systems. And, prior to UCLA, Starr had a 20-year industrial career, during which he served as vice president of Rockwell International and founded and became president of its Atomics International Division.

During World War II, Starr worked with physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer for the Manhattan Engineering District at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., focusing on isotope separation technology. Following World War II, he pioneered the development of nuclear reactor designs, including the first non-military reactor, and the first reactor in space.

5-Q Quiz on: POWERGRID Europe’s Host City

(answers below)

10-cent question: What Spanish city is hosting the inaugural POWERGRID Europe conference?

  1. Barcelona
  2. Madrid
  3. Mexico City

50-cent question: Why is the oso and the madrono tree (pictured on the cover) the symbol of Madrid?

  1. It’s the myth of how Madrid was formed, like Rome’s Romulus and Remus tale.
  2. It’s a medieval symbol of an ancient kingdom.
  3. No one knows.

1-dollar question: Who is the current king of Spain?

  1. Juan Carlos
  2. Jose Zapatero
  3. Salvador Dalí

2-dollar question: Spain is a . . . .

  1. dictatorship
  2. democracy
  3. constitutional monarchy

5-dollar question: Is there an Egyptian temple in Madrid?

  1. Yes, the temple is in ruins on the outskirts of town but remains a symbol of how far back Madrid can trace its heritage.
  2. No, of course not. That’s silly.
  3. Yes, it was donated by the Egyptian state as a gift to Spain in 1968 and is housed in a local park.

ANSWERS:

10-cent question: B. POWERGRID Europe is being held in Madrid, Spain June 26-28, 2007. And, if you answered, “C.,” rent some old episodes of “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?”

50-cent question: C. No one knows. The symbol is everywhere, but no one has an accurate picture of where the symbol came from, unfortunately.

1-dollar question: A. Juan Carlos. Jose Zapatero is the president of Spain and Salvador Dalí a famous Spanish painter.

2-dollar question: C. constitutional monarchy. It sounds scarier than it is. While a constitutional monarchy retains a monarch, it is usually governed by a form of constitution or democracy, with the monarch in a ceremonial position.

5-dollar question: C. Yes. Donated in 1968 to Spain because construction of the Great Dam of Aswan threatened it, the Temple of Debod now resides near Madrid’s Campo de Moro and Parque del Oeste.

Historic Preservation: KUA’s Got It Covered

When it comes to preserving Kissimmee’s past, Kissimmee Utility Authority literally has things covered.

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Using utility bucket trucks and industrial tarps, KUA crews carefully covered a circa 1900 residential dwelling at 804 Bryan Street to protect it from the elements until renovations can begin later this year.

The home, one of only a handful of structures remaining in the city constructed prior to 1905, was the one-time residence of Charles A. Carson, a local banker, city commissioner and Florida state senator in the latter part of the 1890s.

The home is unique for its two-story wraparound porch, ornate jigsaw cut detail woodwork framing, and decorative, centralized front entry framed by transom and side lights.

The structure was severely damaged during Hurricane Charley in 2004 and is in dire need of repair.

Kissimmee’s Community Redevelopment Agency purchased the home in 2006 for $480,000. Using state grants and other local funding, the CRA plans to begin restoration of the dwelling later this year. The project is scheduled to be completed in two years.

Mirant for Sale

Dahlman Rose & Company, LLC issued a statement reviewing Mirant’s position:

  • Mirant management announced it is considering the sale of a part or the entirety of the company, and/or returning cash proceeds from international asset sales to shareholders.
  • Dahlman Rose estimates that total asset sale proceeds could exceed $5.5b.
  • For 2007, Dahlman Rose estimates that gross margin on continuing operations should increase to $1,790m, up from $1,292m in 2006, lifted by incremental capacity revenues in the Northeast and PJM regions, higher power prices, and oil hedges.
  • In a takeover situation, per share value should reach at least $50.

NERC Boss Comments on Grid Needs

At the GridWeek Conference in Washington D.C. April 25, NERC CEO Rick Sergel commented on what the power industry needs to do to improve the T&D grid going forward.

Sergel said that the most important thing the industry has done to improve reliability was to pass the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and make NERC’s reliability standards mandatory and enforceable. He then mentioned three key areas that need work to further strengthen T&D:

  1. New transmission. “Much more investment is needed,” Sergel said;
  2. Demand-side management technologies and policies; and,
  3. A North American-wide phasor measurement system.

Sergel noted that nation-wide phasor measurement systems are already in place in other countries and used the terms “embarrassing and disastrous” to describe the situation if North America doesn’t have such a system in place in 10 years. “We must make sure this happens,” Sergel said of the nation-wide phasor measurement system.

DOE’s Modern Grid Initiative to Use ACS’ Distribution Simulator

During its 30th annual users’ conference, Advanced Control Systems Inc. (ACS) announced that the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) Modern Grid Initiative (MGI) has licensed ACS’ distribution system simulator, called XpertSim, for use in MGI’s technology test and validation program.

MGI is a project conducted by the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. The initiative’s goal is to advance a shared national smart grid vision for a fully modernized power system.

MGI is deploying the ACS distribution simulator to model, test and validate new smart grid, renewable, and distributed energy technologies to evaluate their effect on distribution system performance. The benefits and operational characteristics of these technologies will be evaluated in real-time using a dynamic transient simulation of an actual distribution feeder network.

For more information about the Modern Grid Initiative, visit www.themoderngrid.org.

Oracle Buys Lodestar

Oracle has agreed to acquire Lodestar Corporation, a leading provider of meter data management and competitive energy solutions for the utilities industry.

Larry Hagewood, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Utilities Global Business Unit, stated, “We expect our combined solutions will help facilitate the transformation of utilities to leading-edge infrastructure that creates operational efficiencies and competitive advantage for our customers.”

“For Lodestar’s clients, partners, shareholders and employees, this is an exciting chapter in our evolution,” said Chris Hamilos, Lodestar’s chairman and chief executive officer.

Hamilos added, “The natural synergies between Oracle’s and Lodestar’s premier product suites, coupled with Oracle’s extensive research and development capacity, will enable us to further enhance our products and ensure our clients’ continued success. It is a very beneficial business combination that will drive innovation and leadership in the utilities industry.”

Overheard:

“The grid has become more susceptible to human error and natural disaster. We must recognize the need for higher levels of reliability … higher levels than that for which the grid was designed.” -U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, upon announcing the first two draft “national interest electric transmission corridor” designations in late April.

Photo Story: Mississippi Power Thinks Inside the Box

Following the staggering devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi Power Company was left with 15 coastal area substations flooded. The flooding ruined not only outdoor equipment, but also equipment contained in the substation control houses such as protective relay and communication panels.

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The group found a semi-trailer to outfit with all of the protective relaying panels described and dubbed it “the large trailer.” The equipment for this trailer was not on-hand at Mississippi Power. These parts had to be “begged, borrowed and stolen,” though not literally. Mississippi Power’s sister companies within Southern Company sent inventory from their own warehouses and several vendors provided other components, moving Mississippi Power

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The system protection and substation teams knew immediately that the damage to those control houses would have a significant impact on restoration efforts. Waiting for the construction of replacement control houses was unacceptable. Nothing was available from a vendor at the time. Several key employees held a quick brainstorming session-in the middle of the night in a steamy parking lot with lights powered by a portable generator sitting around on folding chairs and whatever else was available-during which they discovered that the company had a number of short control panels that had been used on a temporary basis in construction or relay replacement situations. The panels were already wired and tested and had been stored in a facility that had escaped storm damage. In a light-hearted moment, one employees offered a tool trailer that had been damaged by the storm and wasn’t useful any longer as a tool trailer. He was kidding, but the brainstorming team jumped on it.

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With the concept of the portable control house proven, the group then began to look for other areas in which to apply it. The company remained in the throes of hurricane restoration as they moved further east to a larger station, the Biloxi Cedar Lake Substation. This station was significantly larger than in Bay St. Louis and served a greater number of customers. It would require protection for five network lines, two transmission buses, two distribution banks, two transmission capacitor banks and four distribution feeders as well as control for 14 circuit breakers and two circuit switchers. That meant a larger trailer. Engineers and electricians worked together installing the standard 7-foot panels in the “large trailer,” placing them off-center so that testing tables and other equipment could also be moved in. As in the small trailer, they also installed a remote terminal unit, AC and DC power distribution panels, batteries and cable termination panels. The completed trailer was then used to replace the flooded control house at this key transmission substation. Both of these portable control houses were successfully used to expedite the overall restoration process and return stability to the Mississippi Power transmission system. Since their use as stand-ins for the flooded substations after Katrina, they have proved valuable in additional restoration projects as well.

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The trailer had been damaged by water, but was structurally sound. Within two weeks, the short panels were installed in the trailer and the trailer was placed in service as a temporary control house in one of the critical switching stations in the Bay St. Louis area where the control house had been destroyed. As installed, the trailer provided line protection for three network transmission lines, controls for two circuit breakers, protection for one transmission capacitor bank and control for one circuit switcher. Along with the relay panels, cable termination, AC and DC power distribution panels were installed. Finally, a portable battery trailer was added to provide control power to the substation.

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