Newton-Evans Research Co. released a summary of findings and observations from its latest study of transmission and distribution monitoring and control systems used in many of the world’s key electric power utilities. The 2005 study includes findings from more than 200 North American power utilities and 50-plus international utilities from 41 countries.
Highlights of the international 2005 study of mission critical, real-time electric utility operational systems-including energy management, supervisory control, and distribution network management-include the following:
Outage management: About 30 percent of the international utilities surveyed this year have implemented a separate outage management system (OMS). About 25 percent of the group plans to implement OMS as a separate system from SCADA/EMS by 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.
Generation management: Generation management systems (GMS) are also experiencing increased activity level this year, at least among those vertically integrated domestic North American utilities serving more than a half-million customers. Seventy five percent continue to rely on automatic generation control (AGC) applications resident on their distribution SCADA systems for linking to power plant-based control systems (DCS’s) or related power supply resources. Internationally, only a handful of participating utilities indicated use of, or plans for, a separate GMS.
Linkages to external systems: Despite cyber security concerns, linkage to other utility enterprise systems continued to be on the increase on a global scale. For many sites, the key to remaining secure seems to be either the restricted provision of non-real-time access via periodic downloads to authorized requestors or indirect access to and from the control system via historian files.
The most frequently mentioned plans for additional links this year from North American control center systems were reported to be geographic information systems (28 percent), OMS (25 percent), and customer information systems (19 percent). Internationally, the key links already in place included historical record-keeping systems, dispatcher and operator training simulators, and links with other utilities.
Overall spending for control systems: Overall spending for SCADA and EMS systems sold to the world community of electric utilities and independent transmission system operators between Jan. 2003 and Aug. 2005 reached more than $1.4 billion based on Newton-Evans database of more than 210 awards recorded in 72 countries for this period. à¢®à¢®
Grid Upgrades Reduce Bottlenecks in California
Improvements and upgrades to the high-voltage power grid controlled by the California Independent System Operator (California ISO) are showing their value for California energy consumers as the costs associated with congestion continue to drop dramatically. The Market Monitoring Report delivered to the ISO Board of Governors detailed savings of nearly $54 million in just two months.
The report also noted a collaborative effort between the ISO and major load-serving entities to reduce under-scheduling of load. Under a memorandum of understanding, the utilities agreed to schedule at least 95 percent of their expected load a day ahead of time. The result is reduced volume and costs in the ISO hour-ahead and real-time markets.
The cost of one type of congestion mitigation known as “out-of-sequence re-dispatch” totaled $3.2 million for the two months this year, compared to $27 million in August and September of last year.
“Must Offer” commitments, another cost associated with congestion, dropped from $52 million over the two-month period in 2004, to $22 million in August and September of this year totaling $54 million.
The recent upgrades include a series of three projects that increased transmission capacity into southern California by 1,000 MW:
“- Path 26 Upgrades: (on-line June 27, 2005) Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and the ISO increased the operating limit from 3,400 to 4,000 MW allowing an additional 600 MW to flow into southern California.
“- “South of Lugo” Upgrades: (on-line June 22, 2005) Southern California Edison added equipment that allowed the ISO to boost the rated capacity of the grid in the Victorville/Norco/Ontario area by 500 MW. The upgrade reduces congestion and supplies more electricity to the Los Angeles Basin.
“- New Miguel-Mission Line: (on-line June 6, 2005) With ISO approval and support, San Diego Gas and Electric accelerated the installation of a new 230-kV transmission line from the Miguel Substation near Chula Vista to the Mission Substation in Mission Valley, increasing the capacity by 400 MW. SDG&E shaved about a year off the project timeline, reducing congestion costs by an estimated $50 million.à¢®à¢®
Report Gives Recommendations to Strengthen Demand Response
The Distributed Energy Financial Group (DEFG) and the Center for the Advancement of Energy Markets recently released the results of a study of demand response conducted from May to October 2005. The study focused on the participation of retail customers in wholesale power supply markets.
“Although most consumers are accustomed to and prefer stable electricity prices and high levels of reliability, there is recognition that the one-size-fits-all approach has created inefficiencies and inequities,” said Nat Treadway, DEFG managing partner. “A small percent of retail customer participation in wholesale markets dramatically reduces critical peak prices and increases system reliability. In other words, when a few customers change their behavior to take advantage of a price break, many customers benefit.”
As part of the study, an online survey was conducted. Nearly 70 percent of survey respondents preferred an approach characterized as either “market-based” or a “mix but leaning toward market-based.”
“The business case is critical to the growth of demand response,” said Tom Brunetto, DEFG managing director. “Competitive markets increase complexity, but also increase opportunities for businesses that interact with retail customers.”
Retail and wholesale electricity markets have not been well integrated, the study stated. Effective demand response transmits price signals among buyers and sellers in both markets, and allows self-selecting customers to curtail use in advance of a system emergency or price spike. A well-functioning electricity market provides an opportunity for active trading in physical and financial markets, real-time and day-ahead energy markets, and markets for regulation service, operating reserves, and reactive power. By integrating spot and forward markets, price signals communicate information regarding future expectations, including robust investment signals.
The report recommends that Independent System Operators (ISO) perform transparent system operation functions, and offer a platform for market transactions. According to the report, ISOs should:
“- Examine the platforms established for energy markets and determine whether there are reforms to further liberalize these markets to increase competitiveness;
“- Establish consumption entitlements that place demand response on a basis equivalent to firm power schedules; and
“- Establish a legal obligation to serve to encourage trading reliability as a differentiated product that will address different customer’s preferences.
The study also suggests ISOs should coordinate with each other to learn from demand response successes; reduce restrictions and broaden participation in existing demand response programs; adopt a consistent valuation process for demand response activities; conduct R&D to understand the limits of and potential for demand response; and adopt standard communications protocols and business practices.
Finally, regulators should align the incentives for transmission and distribution utilities with efficient market outcomes by reducing the link between electricity sales volume and electric utility revenues, and reestablishing the link between peak usage and the cost of transmission and distribution investments. à¢®à¢®
METC Hires IBM to Transform Transmission System
Michigan Electric Transmission Company (METC) has finalized an agreement with IBM to conduct consulting and integration services for the upgrade of its protection and control relay system, a project designed to enhance the overall reliability of METC’s transmission system. The project is expected to span seven to eight years.
IBM will develop business intelligence analytics and “dashboards” to help transform critical operations and business data into useful information that can be accessed in real-time. This will enable METC to see what is happening at the substation level, optimize both their operations and maintenance, and respond more quickly to power outages. Through the IBM WebSphere portfolio, METC is able to leverage a comprehensive enterprise integration solution, complete with off-the-shelf adapters for commercial applications. This model allows for open data exchange across the organization, rapid development and simple integration of applications.
METC also plans to use the Utility Common Information Model-an industry standard used for the assimilation of systems-to further simplify the integration cycle and reduce costs. One of the early benefits of working with IBM was the introduction to InStep Software- specifically, InStep’s eDNA product, which has provided METC with a scalable, industrial-strength data historian.
IBM will provide a new secured hosting environment to support GE Energy’s work for the protection and control project started earlier this year. The hosting center will offer computing resources for the volumes of real-time data streamed out of the GE microprocessor relays, phasor measurement units, digital fault recorders, equipment monitoring devices and weather stations. Moreover, the hosting center will provide resources for GE’s Powerlink Advantage, the human machine interface, as well as for video security archiving and other support functions.
Together, IBM and GE Energy are able to address the three key areas of this project: system protection, communications and security. à¢®à¢®
So Cal Utilities Explore Ice to Reduce Demand From Air Conditioners
Eleven Southern California municipal electric utilities are considering ice to help reduce peak electricity demand during hot summer months.
The 11 municipalities, which together serve 2 million customers, are members of the Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) and say air conditioners are the root cause of California’s peak energy problem. During peak times on hot summer days, up to 70 percent of California’s peak electricity demand often comes from air conditioners, according to the California Energy Commission.
The municipal utilities are working with Ice Energy to install 10 Ice Bear air conditioners at test sites around Southern California and within the Imperial Irrigation District. SCPPA is providing $100,000 to purchase and install the systems.
Residential and commercial customers will continue to use air conditioners as they always have with the new air-conditioning technology. The difference is how air conditioned comfort is provided and when energy is consumed.
Using lower priced, off-peak electricity at night, the Ice Bear air conditioner stores “cool” energy in the form of ice. In essence, the products are cool thermal batteries that are charged at night and discharged during peak hours of the day.
When air conditioning is needed during the day, a small low-wattage pump replaces the traditional energy consuming condensing unit.
Over the coming months, SCPPA officials will monitor how well the Ice Bear operates.à¢®à¢®
HECO Selects Integrated Software Solutions from SPL
Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) has selected SPL WorldGroup to deliver an integrated software solution consisting of SPL Outage Management System (SPL OMS) and SPL Mobile Workforce Management (SPL MWM). HECO hopes the pre-integrated solutions will help to more efficiently manage outage and restoration activities as well as improve the accuracy and timeliness of outage information communicated to customers.
HECO, along with its subsidiaries, provides electricity to 95 percent of Hawaii’s residents. As an island community, Hawaii faces unique challenges in that each island stands alone with no back-up capabilities available from other power utilities during an outage. It therefore becomes paramount to have systems in place that will enable optimal electric grid network reliability and, in the event of an outage, support power restoration as quickly as possible. à¢®à¢®
New Meter Reading Software Platform Launched at Dayton Power & Light
Itron Inc. has successfully installed a new generation of meter reading software for walk-by and drive-by meter reading operations at Dayton Power & Light, in Dayton, Ohio. The Itron Field Collection System (FCS), built on web services architecture, provides utilities with flexibility, scalability and functionality to run Itron handheld and mobile meter reading systems. FCS was commercially available beginning in November 2005.
Itron FCS provides a platform capable of exceeding the route processing and billing window demands of today’s largest utilities. Meter readers can upload routes four times faster than many of the meter reading applications in use at utilities today, ensuring critical reads are delivered on time for bill processing. In addition, FCS improves route reading times and meter reader efficiency by reducing the time needed to extract load profile data from large commercial and industrial accounts. FCS also incorporates new field service functionality into the same device, which enables utilities to achieve further productivity gains by allowing meter readers to complete service work orders while reading monthly routes.
FCS will enable DP&L to deliver both increased productivity in the field and in the meter reading offices while greatly simplifying IT requirements to support the system.
“Upon full deployment of Itron FCS, we will consolidate our stand-alone meter reading systems across our utility offices into one system, enabling us to run more efficiently,” said Maria Bubp, DP&L’s operations manager. The utility uses both Itron handheld and vehicle-based computers to collect data from its 500,000 electricity meters. à¢®à¢®
Companies at Risk for Information Theft from Inside Sources
As many as 80 percent of corporate employees will disclose sensitive company or customer information to people they do not know over the telephone, and up to 33 percent will do the same via e-mail, according to RavenEye, an information security consulting business.
Those numbers came to light when the company conducted a series of information security assessments for several U.S.-based companies, according to Joseph Kirkpatrick, RavenEye’s president.
While trusted employees are the major source of confidential corporate information leaks, Kirkpatrick said, most business leaders remain unaware of what goes on under their very noses.
“Business leaders are largely ignoring this catalyst for information leaks in their companies,” Kirkpatrick said. “Human error is the common element in the information theft stories which have been a fixture in the 2005 headlines.”
Kirkpatrick said his company conducted a series of information security assessments for a number of different companies. RavenEye information security specialists used social engineering techniques to convince corporate employees to share such critical information as network IDs and passwords, which could be used to obtain sensitive company data.
Social engineers prey upon the human emotions of fear, trust, kindness and greed to trick others into sharing critical secret information, Kirkpatrick said.
Kirkpatrick said technology alone will not address the risks that face corporate employees who, maliciously or unknowingly, provide access to an outsider seeking to circumvent the complicated security technologies protecting valuable information.
“Good security technology is available to companies, and they should have it in place,” Kirkpatrick said. “But the most serious threat comes from the human factor. Curiously, that is the part of the equation that businesses continue to pay little attention to.” à¢®à¢®
Ameren, MidAmerican and TVA Join Demand Response Effort
Ameren, MidAmerican Energy and the Tennessee Valley Authority have joined the United States Demand Response Coordinating Committee (DRCC) to work with the other national leaders in the organization to increase knowledge and understanding of demand response in the U.S.
The DRCC was formed in 2004 to conduct research and facilitate the exchange of information and expertise between different regions as well as among demand response practitioners. Among the type of activities that the DRCC has undertaken is the National Town Meeting on Demand Response, a gathering of demand response policy makers and stakeholders held in Washington DC earlier this year.
In addition to its U.S. focus, the DRCC has been designated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as the official Expert Body to represent the U.S. in the Demand Response Project of the International Energy Agency (IEA). à¢®à¢®
Cellnet and Ameren Set to Expand AMR System
Cellnet Technology Inc. and Ameren Corp. announced they have signed a letter of intent for the expansion of the Cellnet fixed-network automated meter reading (AMR) system for an additional 1 million electric and gas meters in Ameren’s Illinois service territory.
The planned expansion, slated for deployment over a four-year period, would add AMR capability to approximately half of Ameren’s meters in Illinois. The additional installations will result in approximately 2.4 million Ameren meters automated on the Cellnet fixed network. à¢®à¢®