Energy Expert to Regulators and Utilities: “Just Do It”

To meet future power demand and provide quality, reliable electricity to American homes and businesses, policymakers and state regulators need to change the way electric utilities do business, Kurt Yeager, executive director of the Galvin Electricity Initiative, said recently.

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Speaking before an audience of federal and state regulators, utilities and other industry players as part of a keynote panel during the National Electricity Delivery Forum in Washington, D.C., Yeager said the future of the U.S. electric power system rests on our ability to take advantage of available technology and prioritize the modernization of our unreliable, inefficient and insecure grid infrastructure.

“Our electric power system has been in a sub-prime mortgage-like era for decades,” Yeager said. “There are no technological or economical obstacles to modernizing the U.S. electric grid, only policy and regulatory barriers that must be eliminated.

“If states open up the electricity market and offer utilities incentives for integrating smart grid technology and giving consumers control of their own energy use, everyone will win,” Yeager continued. “Consumers gain better service and a smaller carbon footprint while utilities gain much-needed upgrades and a system that is less vulnerable to cyber-attack.”

During the panel discussion, Yeager shared some of the Galvan Initiative’s key proposals that will pave the way for a more intelligent electricity grid:

  • The technology exists today to transform the 1950s-era grid into a smarter, reliable and efficient power system. To secure this future, state leadership is needed to remove regulatory obstacles to smart grid development and implementation.
  • Utilities need incentives to drive grid modernization efforts. Utilities are compensated for selling more electricity, not for providing quality service or efficiency programs. States need to support “decoupling,” or separating utilities’ profits from their energy sales. Only then will utilities become motivated to offer consumers tools such as time-of-use pricing and smart meters that can reduce demand.
  • Renewable resources are an important part of our electricity generation mix, but they will not eliminate coal-generated or nuclear power. States should examine their available renewable resources for electricity generation–solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, etc.–and add them to their electricity generation portfolio.
  • New transmission lines should be the last option. Technology currently exists to increase the capacity of the wires we have today. With the addition of “smart” electronic controls, transmission lines can run closer to their limits without risking overload. This will also minimize the security and vulnerability risks that transmission networks pose today.

NERC Board Addresses Key Blackout Recommendation

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s independent Board of Trustees recently approved an important standard addressing a key recommendation from the U.S.—Canada Joint Task Force on the Aug. 14, 2003, blackout. Developed through a two-year, ANSI-accredited process, the standard, PRC-023-1 “Transmission Relay Loadability,” is now mandatory in New Brunswick and Ontario and will move to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval in the U.S.

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The PRC-023-1 standard specifies technical requirements for setting protective relays so operators are better able to manage disturbances.

“Relay loadability has been a contributing factor in major system disturbances since 1965, and was a major contributor to the severity of the 2003 blackout,” said Bob Cummings, NERC’s director of event analysis and information exchange. “Following the 2003 event, the industry completed a detailed review of protection system loadability to ensure relays will not prematurely operate during extreme conditions, thereby allowing operators enough time to make system adjustments. This standard makes the improvements made at that time both permanent and enforceable.”

“The approval of this standard represents a major milestone in ensuring system reliability as we continue to follow through on the recommendations issued by the U.S.—Canada Joint Task Force,” said NERC President and CEO Rick Sergel. “We look now to federal authorities to quickly pass this critical standard.”

For more on blackouts and cascading outages, see pages 16-22 of this issue.

ABB Donates to Tennessee Tech Power Relay Lab

ABB has donated IED 670 power relay equipment and other power products to Tennessee Tech University for use by students and employees of its recently opened TVA Power Relay Laboratory in Cookeville, Tenn.

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Tennessee Tech’s new $500,000 TVA Power Relay Lab, in conjunction with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), will bring both academic and real-life experiences together for the university’s electrical, power and computer engineering students. In addition to the ABB-provided relays and power equipment, the lab will feature substation digital relay and switching equipment. This equipment is similar to what TVA selected when it replaced its legacy electro-mechanical substations with multifunction digital relays. Tennessee Tech undergraduate and graduate students will be able to set and test digital relays, select voltage transformers, determine relay and transformer taps, conduct research, test protection design schemes and use power system protection technology in a world-class laboratory environment.

“We are grateful to ABB for providing some of the best power relay equipment in the industry for our Power Relay Lab,” said James Peterman, chairman of TTU’s industrial advisory board for the electrical and computer engineering department. “Our power engineering program will be greatly enhanced by these ABB multi-function relays, as well as first-hand relay engineering knowledge from ABB.

“This support will benefit our students for years to come,” Peterman continued, “as they prepare to serve the power industry throughout the region and the world. Tennessee Tech University’s relationship with ABB and TVA demonstrates the value and mutual benefit of industry partnerships.”

Alliant Energy Switches to FR3 Transformer Fluid

Alliant Energy expands its environmental commitment to the type of oil it uses in distribution transformers. The company has announced plans to switch from a petroleum-based mineral oil to FR3 fluid, a soy oil-based and more environmentally friendly insulating oil.

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“FR3 fluid is biodegradable, non-toxic and much more fire resistant than mineral oil,” said Brad Morgan, Alliant Energy’s senior manager of customer service. “It’s specifically formulated for use in distribution transformers where its unique environmental, fire safety, chemical and electrical properties are advantageous.”

Switching to FR3 fluid will reduce Alliant Energy’s carbon footprint by 7,280 tons annually, the company claimed. Those numbers include eliminating the need for about 168,000 gallons of petroleum-based mineral oil annually.

Alliant Energy buys about 12,000 distribution transformers a year. The switch to FR3 fluid will require redesigned transformers to optimize its special properties. The goal is to have the redesigned units available for purchase beginning in 2009. Alliant Energy is working with Cooper Power Systems out of Waukesha, Wis., who developed FR3 fluid, and Howard Industries out of Laurel, Miss., on this project.


Iberdrola launches an open and non-proprietary telecommunications architecture for smart metering and smart grid evolution: Iberdrola has been working extensively in the definition and testing of a new open, public and non-proprietary telecom architecture to support not only smart metering functionality but also to progress toward the electricity network of the future. New smart meters must be able to communicate securely and reliably to a central location, as well as to execute the commands and controls received. This is why Iberdrola has gathered relevant national and international industry players in the areas of metering, telecommunications, and silicon manufacturing to define, test and develop an open, public and standard advanced metering infrastructure, under what it calls the PRIME project (Powerline Related Intelligent Metering Evolution). Industrial PRIME partners are Advanced Digital Design, CURRENT Group, Landis+Gyr, STMicroelectronics, Usyscom and ZIV. In 2007 Iberdrola performed several tests in different locations of its electricity network with outstanding results. The success of using OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing), a technology widely used in virtually any modern telecom infrastructure, such as xDSL, Wi-Fi, WiMAX, etc., has already been demonstrated in the field: a new high-speed, low-cost, PLC generation has become a reality. A large field deployment will soon be carried out based on this new architecture. The infrastructure’s first building block is the physical layer specification, known as PHY spec, which is publicly available by e-mailing A white paper on the PHY spec is also publicly available and can be downloaded from

SuperPower Integrates 2nd Gen HTS Wire on Live Grid

SuperPower Inc. has re-connected the 350-meter high-temperature superconducting (HTS) cable to the National Grid power system between the Riverside and Menands substations in Albany, N.Y. Using a new 30-meter cable segment fabricated with wire manufactured in Schenectady, SuperPower marked the successful installation and energizing of Phase 2 of the HTS Cable Demonstration Project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

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HTS cables, which can carry three to five times more power than copper-based power cables, can provide an important solution to the ever-increasing demand for more and higher quality power.

“The Department is committed to continuing to work with academia, industry and the states to advance High Temperature Superconductivity and other breakthrough technologies,” DOE Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Kevin Kolevar said. “High Temperature Superconductivity has repeatedly demonstrated that it has the potential to play a pivotal role in modernizing our electric infrastructure and ensuring the stable and affordable delivery of electricity to our homes, businesses and industry.”

The Albany HTS Cable Project, first installed and energized in July 2006, initially comprised two sections, a 320-meter long section connected to another 30 meters long, both fabricated with first-generation HTS wire. During Phase 2 of this demonstration project, the 30-meter section was removed and replaced during 2007 with an equal section fabricated from SuperPower’s new second-generation (2G) HTS wire. This is the world’s first in-grid demonstration of a device that incorporates 2G HTS wire, which is expected to provide important performance and price benefits compared to copper wire.

“HTS cables carry more power more efficiently,” said Paul D. Tonko, NYSERDA president and CEO. “Since they occupy less space than comparably rated conventional cables, HTS cables can be retrofit into existing underground conduits, eliminating the need for additional trenching, which will be of particular benefit in highly congested urban settings, such as New York City.”

The $27 million Albany HTS Cable Project began in 2001 with a $6 million grant from NYSERDA, in addition to $13.5 million provided by the DOE. SuperPower; Sumitomo Electric Industries (Osaka, Japan); Linde, formerly known as BOC (Germany); and National Grid (Westborough, MA) have all contributed their technical capabilities to this project.

Con Ed Employee Invents Device to Restore Power Faster

Consolidated Edison employee Alan Homyk, director of quality assurance and operations services and a 26-year veteran of the company, has invented a device called the “PhazeSaver” that is used to provide temporary power to customers during partial outages or low-voltage situations.

Weighing about 50 pounds, the PhazeSaver is a mini transformer. This portable, yet powerful device has been used on New York City streets to help power emergency mobile vans and command vehicles for Homeland Security and the United Nations.

For use by electric operations’ mechanics to restore full power to a customer until cables can be permanently repaired, the PhazeSaver is part of a company- wide pilot program. Due to the success rate in residential settings as well as with emergency response vehicles on city streets, the company is in the process of expanding the program.

Homyk said the “PhazeSaver” provides the power of 240 volts from a single 120-volt phase.

When cable cannot be instantly repaired, utilities often resort to running a temporary conductor from an alternate service, such as a light pole, which involves suspending cable overhead with temporary braces. The PhazeSaver avoids the need to bridge or run a shunt for residential customers who may lose a phase or experience low voltage.

KUA Continues Pole Inspections

Kissimmee Utility Authority (KUA) has completed the first phase of its outsourced wood pole inspection program. The inspections are part of an effort by the utility to enhance the safety and reliability of its transmission and distribution facilities while providing a degree of storm resiliency.

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In 2007, the utility contracted with Osmose Utilities Services to inspect wood distribution poles on an eight-year cycle and wood transmission poles on a two-year cycle. The inspections include a visual, sound and bore test for each pole. Inspection crews also capture digital images of each pole which are added to KUA’s existing geographic information system database.

Of the 2,212 poles inspected in the first phase, 1,016 poles (46 percent) showed no signs of decay, 1,164 poles (53 percent) showed some level of decay, and 12 poles (0.5 percent) were rejected and required replacement. Poles that were not replaced were either treated or reinforced.

Utility pole decay is very common in Florida because of the humid subtropical climate, a high water table and insects. The United States Department of Agriculture places the state of Florida in its highest decay severity zone. KUA maintains 15,300 wood distribution poles and 340 wood transmission poles throughout its 85-square-mile service area. All new transmission construction involves the use of concrete or steel poles for added stability.

New Study Focuses on Impact of Recent “Smart Grid,” Cyber Security Legislation

Newton-Evans Research Company has begun its 10th study of global trends and plans for electric power operational control systems, impacted today by a barrage of new legislation, compliance requirements, smart grid developments and information security concerns. The 2008 study will include findings from more than 200 North American power utilities and 100-plus international utilities from 50 or more countries. Together, the results are expected to provide insight from utilities serving more than one-third of the world’s electricity consumers.

The international study of mission critical, real-time electric utility operational systems–including energy management, supervisory control, and distribution network management–will result in the publication of four volumes of research and planning information of importance to utilities, systems integrators and participants in smart grid developments.

A few of the highlights of the 2005-2007 study included these observations:

  • About thirty percent of the international utilities surveyed in late 2005 had implemented a separate outage management system (OMS). About twenty-five percent of the group planned to implement OMS as a separate system from SCADA/EMS by year-end 2007.
  • The largest international utilities were more likely to have already implemented an OMS than were their smaller counterparts; European and Asia-Pacific regional utilities were more likely to have implemented an OMS than were counterparts in other world regions.
  • Linking to other utility enterprise systems continued to be on the increase on a global scale; despite cyber security concerns. (Newton-Evans anticipates some changes in priorities this year, with the likelihood that many U.S. utilities will be implementing a NERC compliance reporting system over the 2008-2010 period.)
  • Overall spending for SCADA and EMS systems sold worldwide to electric utilities and independent transmission systems operators during January 2005-2007 reached more than $1.5 billion USD, based on Newton-Evans interim findings and data provided by major suppliers. With the recent enactment of smart grid legislation and various compliance reporting requirements for security and reliability concerns internationally, the research firm anticipates moderate growth in spending outlook for these and related power operations and engineering applications

FirstEnergy Files Application for Transmission Line

FirstEnergy Corp.’s transmission subsidiary, American Transmission Systems Inc., and its Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI) electric utility company have filed a complete construction application with the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB). The project–to construct a new 138-kV transmission line and substation in northeast Ohio–is designed to serve parts of Geauga and Ashtabula counties.

“Geauga County and parts of Ashtabula County have experienced significant residential, commercial, and industrial growth over the last eight or so years, far outstripping average load growth in our Ohio service areas,” said Richard R. Grigg, FirstEnergy executive vice president and chief operating officer. “This transmission project is designed to help us continue to provide safe and reliable electric service to our customers in the region.”

FirstEnergy worked with URS, a nationally known engineering firm specializing in transmission issues, to determine the best route for the project. Both a preferred route and an alternate route are being discussed.


Itron signed 10 contracts with utilities in the first two months of 2008 for its Enterprise Edition Meter Data Management system. The MDM deployments are in preparation for large advanced metering infrastructure initiatives and to improve data collection and billing processes for C&I customers.


  • 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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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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