DOE Designates Southwest Area, Mid-Atlantic Area National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Kevin M. Kolevar announced the Department’s designation of two National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (National Corridors) in October: the Mid-Atlantic Area National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor and the Southwest Area National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor.

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The department based its designations on data and analysis showing that persistent transmission congestion exists in these two areas.

“These National Corridors serve as an important indication by the federal government that significant transmission constraint or congestion problems exist,” Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman said. “The goal is simple- to keep reliable supplies of electric energy flowing to all Americans. By designating these National Corridors, we are encouraging stakeholders in these regions to identify solutions and take prompt action.”

DOE has made each National Corridor designation effective for 12 years. The Mid-Atlantic Area National Corridor includes certain counties in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and all of New Jersey, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. The Southwest Area National Corridor includes certain counties in California and Arizona.

The boundaries of the National Corridors extend beyond the immediate areas experiencing electric transmission congestion and also include areas of the country with a wide range of potential sources of electricity generation.

State authorities will continue to have primary responsibility for deciding how to resolve transmission congestion problems, evaluating transmission projects, and the siting of transmission facilities.

“Designation of National Corridors confirms that we must tackle our nation’s energy issues on multiple fronts, with multiple pathways,” Assistant Secretary Kolevar said. “To help meet growing demand for electricity with the affordability and reliability we’re all accustomed to, now, more than ever, we must look at electricity generation from a regional and national perspective. Not only must we continue to increase energy efficiency wherever possible and maximize each states’s resources, we must also maintain a consistent supply of electricity because it is integral to our livelihood and our economy as well as our national security.”

NERC Commends DOE’s Designation

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) commended the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) designation of two National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (NIETC) in October.

Rick Sergel, NERC president and CEO, commented: “The Department of Energy’s NIETC designations will facilitate needed improvements in our conti’s power system augmenting ongoing efforts to alleviate reliability concerns in the corridors. We continue to support all of the entities involved in these efforts to ensure the reliability of the overall bulk power system.”

Learn more at www.nerc.com.

Study Notes Terrorist Blackout Impact on L.A.

Various forms of resilience would give Los Angeles County electricity customers the ability to mute the potential shock to their businesses of a terrorist-caused blackout by as much as 86 percent, according to a new study in the journal Risk Analysis.

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“Business Interruption Impacts of a Terrorist Attack on the Electric Power System of Los Angeles: Customer Resilience to a Total Blackout” was conducted by three scientists affiliated with the University of Southern California’s ‘s) Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE). It appears in a special homeland security issue of the peer-reviewed journal (Vol. 27, No. 3, 2007).

Adam Rose of USC; Gbadebo Oladosu of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Shu-Yi Liao of National Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan, estimated the direct and indirect economic impacts of an extended power outage caused by a terrorist attack in Los Angeles. Given the ability of terrorists to target maximum damage, they simulated a total power blackout lasting two weeks, according to the study. The authors used a computable general equilibrium model that addressed resilience and indirect economic effects and incorporated special features relating to terrorism.

Conclusions:

  • A two-week total electricity blackout would amount to a business interruption loss of $20.5 billion without any customer resilience, but only $2.8 billion with the inclusion of several types of resilience, most prominently the rescheduling of production after electric service is restored.

  • Inherent aspects of the electricity-economy relationship (e.g., inter-fuel substitution) and adaptive behavioral responses (e.g., conservation, on-site electricity generation) also can help deliver this 86-percent reduction in potential disruption impacts.

    “There is strong indication that people learn from disaster experiences and that options implemented for one type of disaster apply to others (e.g., purchase of backup electric generators in the aftermath of the Northridge Earthquake),” the authors said. “Thus, there is some cause for optimism that resilience to disasters will increase over time.”

    This research was supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and by a grant from the National Science Foundation-sponsored Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research.

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    EYE ON EUROPE:

    • Dateline: ZigBee City, Sweden. The city of Gothenburg (or Göteborg), Sweden, will soon form the world’s largest ZigBee network when it deploys the NURI AiMiR Advanced Meter-reading Management (AMM) System for its 270,000 homes, according to Ember. Göteborg Energi AB has chosen the NURI AiMiR AMM System for its Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). The NURI AiMiR meter reading unit is based on Ember’s ZigBee technology. ‘s AiMiR meter reading unit is integrated with Ember’s ZigBee system-on-a-chip and EmberZNet networking software to create a wireless mesh network for remote metering. “We have continuously adopted new technologies that improve energy delivery while contributing towards the development of a sustainable society, such as the world’s first CO2-free vehicle factor’re creating with Volvo,” said Tomas Arnewid, Göteborg Energi AB’s project manager. “Our city-wide ZigBee AMR network is another example of our long history as infrastructure builders. We see the ZigBee infrastructure as a great added value to our investment in the NURI advanced metering system. There is great potential for new services that can be offered by the mesh network.”
    • Siemens connects Majorca to Spanish mainland. Siemens Power Transmission and Distribution (PTD) has been awarded its third HVDC order in Europe within half a year. Siemens is delivering the two converter stations for the new high-voltage direct current transmission link (HVDC) between Morvedre near Valencia and Santa Ponsa near Palma de Mallorca, connecting the Balearic island of Majorca with the Spanish mainland. From May 2011, the 250-kilometer (155-mile) long, 250 kV HVDC submarine cable with a power capacity of 400 MW will provide the resort island with power from the mainland. The customer is Red Eléctrica de Espana (REE). The order volume for Siemens totals to about EUR 100 million.

    More Hackers Targeting Utilities

    SecureWorks, a managed security services provider protecting over 1,800 clients and 100 utilities, has seen a 90 percent increase in the number of hackers attempting to attack its utility clients this year. From January through April, SecureWorks blocked an average of 49 attackers per utility client per day. Whereas, from May through September, it saw an average of 93 hackers attempt attacks on each of its utility clients per day.

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    “When researching these new statistics, we found that web browser attacks represented a large number of the attacks attempted against our clients, including our utility customers,” said Wayne Haber, director of development at SecureWorks.

    Computer users can become victims of browser attacks by visiting websites, which unbeknownst to them are hosting malware, or by clicking on a malicious link in an e-mail or instant message.

    Utility providers, as well as other companies, can protect themselves and their employees more adequately from hackers by:

    • Implementing strong Internet usage policies for employees,
    • Checking for software updates frequently, and
    • Educating employees on the latest tactics.

    TIDBIT:

    In 2006, shipments of merchant DC-DC converters totaled US$ 2.6 billion and are forecast to reach US$ 3.9 billion in 2011, according to Venture Development Corp.

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    OSI Awarded OMPA Contract

    Open Systems International Inc. (OSI) has been awarded a contract by Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority (OMPA) of Edmond, Oklahoma, for a new comprehensive SCADA system. OMPA provides power to Oklahoma’s municipally owned electric systems, currently serving 35 municipals in Oklahoma and supplying partial requirements for four cities in Kansas. ‘s main motivation for this project has been the implementation of a more modern control system based on an open architecture, facilitating future upgrades of hardware and software as well as a lower recurring maintenance cost. OSI’s state-of-the-art monarch system will replace the com’s aging QEI SCADA system. The project is scheduled for completion within four months of contract signing.

    TIDBIT:

    The latest RKS survey of state utility regulators found a “dramatic reversal of support among state utility regulators for deregulated energy markets.” One-third of respondents in currently competitive states say they are considering re-regulating. When asked to identify the states operating the most successful deregulatedenergy markets, a majority of commissioners replied, “None.”

    Xcel Energy Uses Soy Oilin All New Transformers

    Xcel Energy, an electricity provider to 3.3 million customers across eight western and midwestern states, will be the first large-scale utility to use Cooper Power Systems Envirotemp FR3 fluid in all of its new single-phase pole- and pad-mounted electrical distribution transformers starting next year.

    FR3 fluid is a biodegradable, bio-based dielectric coolant that offers a number of advantages over petroleum-based mineral oil including an improved environmental profile and enhanced transformer performance. Through the agreement, Xcel Energy annually will install as many as 15,000 new single-phase transformers filled with FR3 fluid, an insulating product formulated from soy beans and environmentally safe additives. By doing so, Xcel Energy will annually replace the use of more than 400,000 gallons of petroleum-based mineral oil with FR3 fluid, which, unlike mineral oil, is biodegradable in both soil and aquatic environments and has the highest EPA classification for biodegradability.

    Today, more than 100 U.S.-based utilities, as well as utilities in many foreign countries, have made small- and large-scale commitments to switch to FR3 transformer fluid. “We are dedicated to minimizing our impact on the environment, and because of that, we are making changes to the way we make and deliver energy to our customers,” said Dick Kelly, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. “We’re looking at all levels of our business large and small. While standard transformers function effectively and safely, we believe that our customers expect more. The new transformers with soy-based coolant are another important aspect of our environmental leadership.”

    “We understand the environmental concerns of our customers and, accordingly, are committed to being the first large-scale utility to switch to environmentally friendly soy-based coolant in all of our new transformers. We believe this is the right thing to do for the environment, for our customers and for long-term cost management of the utility,” Kelly said.

    Cooper Power Systems began the development of FR3 fluid in the early 1990s as a substitute for more flammable conventional transformer oil. In 2004, it partnered with Cargill, Inc. to produce and distribute Envirotemp FR3 in volume.

    California Fires put SDG&E Crews on High Alert

    By Kathleen Davis, Associate Editor

    Dateline: Oct. 23, 2007.

    While the cause of the raging fires around Malibu and San Diego was still under investigation and speculation including the thought that at least one of the blazes was caused by downed power lines San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), the local electric utility, was already dealing with the aftermath of those fires while they still burned: power outages, ravaged equipment and missing transmission access.

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    As of 8 a.m. on Oct. 23, SDG&E reported approximately 25,000 customers without power throughout its service territory. The 49 outages were scattered throughout the county. Not all of them were fire-related, but most certainly had the fire to blame. (Some may be attributed to the wild and unrelenting Santa Ana winds typical of California this time of year and another major issue with tackling the fire as well.)

    The California Independent System Operator (Cal ISO) declared a “transmission emergency” in Southern California because of the fires. SDG&E only possesses two transmission corridors that link San Diego to the outside world and one of them was cut off at press time. The Southwest Powerlink, which extends from the Otay Mesa area to Arizona, was out of service in the heat and blaze of the Harris fire (one of many smaller fires converging and causing the natural disaster in the area) when this issue went to print.

    Additionally, SDG&E reported that transmission lines running in from the north were being threatened by the fires and, at 3 a.m. this late October morning, a significant number of transmission lines went out of service around Miguel Mountain. The utility had identified over 50 areas of damage that will need repaired once the fires are under control, and they continue to assess and add new areas and items. That list grew by the hour, by the minute even. Several hundred poles had already been damaged or destroyed because of the fires.

    At the time of this writing, SDG&E had “all available crews” out working on repairs. That’s 750 employees and approximately 80 contractors trying to skirt danger zones in order to work on what they can. ‘ve been at it “around the clock” and will continue to do so, according to SDG&E spokesman. They’ve asked for assistance from regional utilities as well, going to their neighbors for help with this dangerous situation.

    “With the unpredictable nature of the fires we do not have an estimated time for power restoration,” the company said in a statement to their customers. “We ask the public for their patience and cooperation with outages, some of which are necessary to ensure the safety of fire personnel.”

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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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