New Technologies for T&D -and for News Reporting

Steven Brown, editor in chief

This issue of Utility Automation & Engineering T&D is packed with articles that I think get to the heart of what this publication is all about: new technology and the use of older technology in new and exciting ways.

For example, the use of gas-insulated switchgear to reduce the size of substations, making them better fit into an urban environment, is exciting enough in itself, but the city of Anaheim has taken the technology a step further, or deeper in this case. They’ve buried an entire substation beneath a 2-acre public park (see Getting Equipped, page 58). As urban areas become more densely populated and land available for building power infrastructure becomes more scarce, this type of innovative substation design could someday be the norm.

In the article on pages 38-42, you’ll see how Georgia Transmission Corp., in conjunction with the Electric Power Research Institute, took time-tested geographic information system technology and applied it in a new way to site transmission lines. GTC has used this new methodology to route 200 miles of transmission line and has received interest from other utilities, both in North America and internationally. Given the need for new transmission lines in many parts of the world, and the difficulty inherent in siting those lines, it’s good to see a company working toward a technological solution, rather than invoking the heavy hand of eminent domain or federal backstop siting authority.

Also on the high-voltage technology front, you can read in this issue about ABB’s new lab in Ludvika, Sweden, where power delivery is making a multi-kilovolt leap forward. At the new ultra-high voltage DC lab, ABB is perfecting its 800-kV UHVDC technology, which will be used to connect major urban areas in China and India to distant hydropower resources.

Each of these articles points toward an exciting future for transmission and distribution-a future in which new technologies help us carry more power through ever-dwindling available space. But the new technology I’m personally most excited about right now is one our editorial staff has just begun using. Just as power engineers work to shrink the footprint of generation and transmission infrastructure, we editors are trying to find new ways to bring our subscribers more news, while respecting the fact that they have less free time. That’s why we came up with Currents: The Energy News Podcast. If you can spare 15 or 20 minutes, even on your drive to work, you can listen to the latest energy news and analysis on Currents.

Don’t let the “podcasting” moniker put you off. You don’t have to have an iPod or iTunes to listen to the show. Just go to, click the podcast button on the homepage, and choose the “Play Now” option. Your default media player will pop up and you’ll be listening. You can also download the podcast to your computer and burn it to a CD. Or, borrow your kid’s iPod and listen to Currents the way your maker intended.

Our first two podcasts feature a two-part interview with the man in charge of bulk power reliability: NERC president and CEO Rick Sergel. It’s an interesting interview, and one you can only hear on Currents. I hope you’ll give Currents a listen and let me know what you think: Podcasting is as new to us as it probably is to you, and we’re open to suggestions on how we can improve the show.

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