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DistribuTECH Keynote Speakers Announced

DistribuTECH conference organizers have announced that Walter Higgins III, president and CEO of Sierra Pacific Resources, and Wanda Reder, vice president of engineering and planning for Commonwealth Edison Co., have accepted invitations to deliver keynote addresses to kick off DistribuTECH 2003 in Las Vegas on Feb. 4.

Higgins will draw on experience from a successful career in the utility industry as he addresses attendees at the power industry’s leading technology conference. Higgins was named Sierra Pacific Resources chairman of the board, president and CEO in August 2000. Prior to that, he was chairman, president and CEO for AGL Resources Inc., the holding company of Atlanta Gas Light. Before AGL, Higgins was chairman, president and CEO of Sierra Pacific from 1993 through 1998. He has also served as president and COO of Louisville Gas and Electric, and worked for 14 years with Portland General Electric where his last position was senior vice president of generation and transmission.

Reder will also share her expertise in power distribution technology as a DistribuTECH keynote speaker. As vice president of engineering and planning, Reder has oversight of distribution operations at ComEd, where she has worked since August 2001. Prior to her work at ComEd, Reder founded and was president and CEO of Ultra Power Technologies Inc., an unregulated subsidiary of Northern States Power Co. (NSP). Ultra Power Technologies offered predictive diagnostic testing for underground distribution cables. By starting this company, Reder was instrumental in introducing reliability-centered maintenance to utilities and encouraging it as a general practice for underground distribution systems. Before starting Ultra Power Technologies, Reder worked for more than 15 years with NSP, developing conservation programs, leading distribution automation efforts and supervising transmission and distribution planning.

Higgins and Reder will deliver their keynote addresses to open DistribuTECH 2003 on the morning of Feb. 4. A third keynote speaker was expected to be named shortly after this issue went to press.

DistribuTECH 2003 takes place Feb. 4-6 in Las Vegas, with pre-conference Utility University courses running Feb. 2-3.

DistribuTECH 2003 will feature conference sessions focusing on distribution operations management, distribution automation, substation automation, automatic meter reading, mobile work force management, enterprise integration, GIS technology, demand response, distributed generation and more. In addition, more than 200 companies are expected to be showcasing technology in the DistribuTECH exhibit hall.

Utilities Increase Emphasis on Systems Integration

As a result of ongoing systems integration efforts, customer service representatives at an increasing number of utilities are able to access vital data from outage management, geographical information and other essential systems. This may very well translate into improved customer satisfaction.

These are among the Chartwell research findings reported in “Systems Integrations in the Utility Industry,” a new report from Chartwell that focuses on utilities’ efforts to tie their information systems together to improve service levels.

Recent Chartwell data shows the number of utilities integrating their geographic information systems (GIS) with customer information systems (CIS) increased 12 percent from 1999 to 2001, while the number of utilities integrating their CIS with outage management capabilities grew 6 percent in the same period.

This indicates that more utilities are taking steps to effectively communicate with customers by providing a means to report accurate information through various customer contact channels.

According to Chartwell’s research, utilities see the need to integrate a wide variety of technologies and processes—from call center interactive voice response units to outage management systems, GIS, computer-aided dispatch and work force management. But this process is challenging and costly.

PSE Pulling Plug on TOU Program

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) announced in early November that it would ask the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission to end PSE’s pilot time-of-use (TOU) billing program 10 months ahead of schedule. At the time of this writing, it appeared that PSE’s request would be granted.

PSE also intended to reimburse customers who participated in the TOU program the $1 per month administrative charge it began levying in July.

PSE launched the TOU billing program in 2000 during the West Coast energy crisis. The intention of the program was to offer financial incentives for customers to shift electric usage to off-peak hours through a tiered pricing model.

However, a Seattle Times article reported that results of the plan ran counter to PSE’s intentions. The article stated that 94 percent of the program’s roughly 300,000 participants lost money compared with what flat-rate customers paid.

The Times reported that about 26,000 customers dropped out of the program after receiving the first TOU summary reports in mid-October. Customers were reportedly withdrawing from the program at a rate of about 1,300 a day.

“We believe in the fundamental principle that customers who use energy efficiently should be rewarded,” said Steve Reynolds, PSE’s president and CEO. “But it is clear that the program as currently designed is not giving many of our customers the rewards they expected and that we believe it should.”

Reynolds said PSE intended to reevaluate and possibly restructure the program to see if it might work in conjunction with other conservation programs.

IEEE Approves New Line Reclosing Standard

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association (IEEE-SA) Standards Board has approved a new standard for automatically reclosing line circuit breakers on transmission and distribution (T&D) lines.

It also approved the start of work on two other T&D standards: a new guide to protective relay applications and the revision of a standard on lightning performance. A new standard that will compare distribution equipment in North America and Europe was also begun.

The new standard, IEEE C37.104, “Guide for Automatic Reclosing of Line Circuit Breakers for AC Distribution and Transmission Lines,” describes current practices for automatically reclosing transmission and distribution lines, as well as reclosing considerations and coordination practices.

The three projects begun involve two new standards and the revision of an existing standard:

IEEE PC37.230, “Guide for Protective Relay Applications to North American Distribution Lines,” will be a new standard on how to protect power system distribution lines for utility engineers, consultants, educators and manufacturers. It will review the fundamentals of this topic, examine the advantages and disadvantages of methods used, and present line configurations and schemes.

IEEE P1605, “Guide for Comparison of Existing Installation Requirements for Electrical Distribution and Utilization Equipment in North America and Europe,” will be a new standard that compares installation practices for a variety of equipment, e.g., enclosed high-voltage and low-voltage switchgear, transformers, motor control centers, switchboard and panel boards. The comparison will involve such North American standards as the National Electric Code in the U.S. and the Canadian Electric Code and relevant IEC and EN documents used in Europe.

IEEE P1410, “Guide for Improving the Lightning Performance of Electric Power Overhead Distribution Lines,” which identifies factors contributing to lightning-caused faults on overhead distribution lines carrying voltages of 69 kV and below, will be revised. The changes will suggest improvements to existing and new systems and present alternatives to reduce lightning-caused flashovers.

Milsoft, PORCHE, Origin Form New Entity

Three providers of software and technology solutions to the electric industry recently announced the creation of a new holding company that will combine Milsoft Integrated Solutions, PORCHE Systems and Origin Technologies. Milsoft Utility Solutions, the new holding company, will provide integrated software to serve the spectrum of electric utility automation requirements from engineering to customer service. Wayne Carr will be president of the new company.

In 2001, the three companies committed to jointly developing a fully integrated version of their respective software to respond to industry demands for a quality single software solution for utility operation and engineering. Through this process, the companies discovered that the combined creativity and skills of their development staffs was, to quote an old axiom, much greater than the sum of the parts.

Milsoft Utility Solutions will retain the corporate organizations to be combined. Wayne Carr will manage the new holding company and direction of its subsidiaries.

Milsoft Utility Solutions will begin joint operations on Jan. 1, 2003, but the three companies are already combining resources and operations.

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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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