NEWS

Collaboration Hopes to Yield New Transmission Lines in Western U.S.

Arizona Public Service Co. (APS), National Grid USA and the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority (WIA) have made plans to collaborate in development of new electric transmission lines between Arizona and Wyoming.

The recent memorandum of understanding expands previous announcements by APS in October 2005 to begin development of the TransWest Express Project and by the WIA and National Grid in December 2005 that they would jointly undertake the Wyoming-West Transmission Study.

Arizona and neighboring states are experiencing significant growth in electricity demand. To help meet that growth, APS envisions construction of two new 500-kV transmission lines from northern Arizona, through Utah to Wyoming. APS and other utilities in the west are attracted to Wyoming as an abundant source of low-cost wind and clean coal generation, said a recent press release from the three companies. The TransWest Express Project will be designed to help meet growth in demand with low-cost sources of supply from Wyoming.

Concurrently, the WIA and National Grid are working together in the Wyoming-West Transmission Study to examine the possibilities for new transmission lines from Wyoming to major metropolitan markets throughout the West. Recognizing that there is a significant overlap between these two initiatives, the three parties have agreed to work together and actively cooperate to move these initiatives forward.

Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas hailed the agreement saying, “This is an exciting project for Wyoming and the West. It’s the kind of partnership and cooperative effort needed to break the logjam that has separated Wyoming’s vast energy resources from the growing electricity markets in the West. This proposed transmission expansion will relieve congestion on the electric grid and provide consumers with the benefits of Wyoming’s coal and wind energy resources.”

“We face a real challenge in the coming years to meet the growing needs of Arizonans with a reliable and diverse resource portfolio,” said Steve Wheeler, executive vice president, APS Customer Service and Regulation. “The time to start the planning process is now. That’s why we announced the TransWest Express Project. We also saw the necessity of working with others on this project. With the WIA and National Grid also looking at new transmission along this path, it makes sense that we pool resources and work with each other.”

“Throughout the West there is increasing interest in Wyoming as a source of power supply,” said Steve Waddington, WIA executive director. “Today’s announcement is a significant step forward in building the multi-state cooperation necessary to ensure that the required transmission lines interconnecting the West are built.”à¢®à¢®

IntelliGrid to Debut in Poland

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) announced that Poland’s PSE-Operator S.A. has initiated the world’s first demonstration project based on the IntelliGrid transmission architecture, an enhanced electricity delivery model that could improve power line reliability and capability.

PSE-Operator S.A., the transmission system operator in Poland, is a participant of the IntelliGrid Consortium that EPRI assembled in 2001. They will initiate the Fast simulation and modeling project to integrate the electric power delivery system and the communications and equipment that will be used to control the system.

The pilot project is intended to provide a framework for development of an intelligent, self-healing transmission system. Expected to be completed by the end of 2007, the project will initially incorporate one part of the transmission system in northern Poland and another part in the south of the country. The system will be monitored by the National Dispatch Center in Warsaw.

The IntelliGrid Consortium, an international collaborative alliance of utilities, manufacturers, researchers and government agencies, has a goal of transforming today’s electric grid into a highly sophisticated delivery system. The team has developed guidelines to provide a strategic approach to electric delivery systems integration.

The results of that work were published by EPRI as the IntelliGrid Architecture. The architecture provides the basis for the pilot demonstration project in Poland.

“This test project is innovative and offers a new perspective on data gathering and conversion standards, enabling us to make faster, more precise decisions under both normal and aberrant operating conditions,” said Stefania Kasprzyk, president of PSE-Operator.

“The project in Poland is pivotal because it represents the first demonstration of how to transform the electric grid into a more responsive and resilient delivery system,” said Wade Malcolm, EPRI’s vice president of power delivery and markets. “It will prove vital as the utility industry plans, designs, upgrades and replaces equipment that will serve customer needs over the next 40 to 50 years.” ࢝®à¢®

Current Launches Smart Grid Consortium

Current Communications Group announced the formation of an industry-wide network of companies committed to enabling utilities to create their own broadband over power line (BPL)-based “smart grids.”

Current’s strategic partners in developing smart grids for utilities include Badger Meter, Comverge, Corporate Systems Engineering, Landis+Gyr and Sensus Metering Systems. These strategic partners are all market leaders in key utility operations categories such as usage measurement (electricity, gas and water meters) and electricity management.

Current has developed a BPL Communications Module that integrates into solid-state electric meters, allowing them to be read on demand over Current’s BPL networks. Current is working with Landis+Gyr and Sensus to BPL-enable those companies’ complete electric meter product lines.

“These strategic partners are the first wave of innovators engaged in joint development with Current. They play a key role in increasing the value of BPL by empowering electric utilities cost effectively to improve the reliability and efficiency of their distribution networks,” said Tom Willie, president and COO of Current Technologies. “This is just the beginning. We are broadening the Current Smart Grid Development Network to include other utility hardware and software providers and system integrators.”à¢®à¢®

SmartSynch Partners with Utilismart

SmartSynch has partnered with Utilismart Corp. to establish an advanced metering service bureau in Canada that provides wireless technology to utilities and local distribution customers.

Ontario-based Utilismart Corp. specializes in utility settlement services and interval meter data management, including collection and processing. Utilismart currently provides service to about a third of the electrical distribution companies in Ontario plus other market participants, industrial and large use consumers in the Ontario region. Utilismart operates a web-based service that provides customers with the information needed to make informed business decisions about electricity usage

Under the partnership, Utilismart has installed and is operating the Transaction Management System (TMS) software offered by SmartSynch. Utilities can now install SmartSynch SmartMeters which automatically transmit daily interval data back to Utilismart.

Utilismart services include access to a web-based system that provides updated information daily to assist business managers to make informed decisions about electricity consumption, conservation, load shifting and energy purchases. The Utilismart system collects, validates and manages customer meter data and delivers load profile analysis, account aggregation, cost forecasts, tailored reporting services, bill verification, market reports and a full menu of settlement services daily.

Customers for TMS already include Enersource, Erie Thames, Essex Power, Niagara Falls Hydro, St. Thomas Energy, Toronto Hydro, West Perth, Welland and Woodstock Hydro. Utilismart maintains the system and provides each LDC with daily files that include all of their interval and register data.࢝®à¢®

Salt River Project Deploys REX Meters

The Salt River Project (SRP) Agricultural and Improvement Power District in Phoenix is currently deploying 10,000 Elster Electricity REX meters per month as part of its EnergyAxis System expansion project. The EnergyAxis System is an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system for residential, commercial, and industrial electricity and water metering applications.

“The EnergyAxis System continues to perform well as we enter our third year with the system and as we expand the number of meters in the field,” said John Soethe, SRP’s manager of revenue cycle services. “Projected savings from automated meter reading (AMR) and automated field services have exceeded our expectations. We’re also beginning to realize the operational benefits in the back office.”

By the end of April 2006, SRP plans to have an additional 50,000 REX meters installed in the Phoenix area, bringing the total number to about 75,000. The system expansion includes 25,000 REX meters installed in new growth areas on the outskirts of the Phoenix metropolitan area, and 25,000 REX meters with an internal power service connect/disconnect switch installed in apartment complexes throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The EnergyAxis System allows SRP to access meters remotely on a daily basis for meter reading and field service activities. The REX meter with an internal switch allows SRP to remotely connect and disconnect power service-often in the same day. Meters have also been deployed in areas of concern within SRP’s service territory to protect the safety of field crews.

Since May 2005, SRP has worked more than 14,000 field orders without having to leave the office.࢝®à¢®

AMDS Installation “ËœVirtually Flawless’ at Alabama Power

Advanced Metering Data Systems (AMDS) has completed the delivery of 50,000 AMDS Connect-enabled Sensus iCon electricity meters for Alabama Power Co. in Birmingham.

Derl Rhoades, principal in Alabama Power’s power delivery metering department, characterized the installation of the residential and C&I (commercial & industrial) meters as “virtually flawless.”

“We’ve had plenty of prior experience with meter installations,” Rhoades explained. “And, we figured we knew pretty much what to expect in a deployment of this magnitude; that is, a few bad units, some problem installation sites and especially getting the communications system to work properly, the latter generally being our biggest and most difficult challenge. However, we’re pleasantly surprised by what we have observed this time around,” Rhoades said. “This experience is unprecedented.”

The Alabama Power deployment includes approximately 45,000 two-way residential meters, allowing top-of-the-hour synchronized hourly reads, on-demand reads, real-time outage management and voltage monitoring for each meter. It also includes 5,000 C&I meters with the AMDS system providing demand register reads/resets and two-way C12.19 table tunneling capability for those meters.

“To be fair, this project is different from most other metering roll-outs in some very important ways,” said Rhoades. He went on to explain: “First of all-and perhaps most importantly-the AMDS network topology required only three towers to cover hundreds of square miles of our service territory. This extended coverage translates into a massive reduction in project complexity and deployment logistics.”

He added, “Second, all of the meters are currently set for hourly reads and are delivering 99.5 percent read interval success. And, what makes it even more extraordinary is that we are getting that kind of read reliability with no repeaters or extra antennas needed anywhere in the entire system.”

The three towers used for the Alabama Power deployment were originally installed to cover an initial 50-square-mile trial-an area encompassing four zip codes in the metro-Birmingham area. However, the patented AMDS Connect network proved to have a range of as much as 20 miles or more from a tower, allowing the towers to cover about 250 square miles and allowing future deployments to be made without the need to expand the existing coverage network infrastructure.࢝®à¢®

Hunt Power Forms Demand Response Alliances

Hunt Power, a provider of demand response and energy efficiency solutions, and EnergyICT, a European energy data collection and management systems provider, have formed a strategic alliance to deliver demand response solutions to utilities and end-use customers.

The EIServer/ComServer system from EnergyICT will replace Hunt Power’s current MV-90 system and serve as the heart of its new demand response and meter data management offering.

Developed over a 10-year period, EnergyICT’s EIServer/ComServer is a comprehensive multi-vendor energy data collection and management software solution built on an Oracle database with a modular, object-oriented Java architecture.

Hunt Power is also using EnergyICT WebRTU-Z1 and RTU+ hardware to build a real-time pricing demand response program that includes main load and submetering, load forecasting, passive and active load control, multi-site aggregation and control, and individual site peak-shaving capabilities. Designed specifically to operate with modern communication mediums such as General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), this system offers end users a low-cost technology that meets the demands of a deregulated energy market, or simply allows users to get a better understanding of how energy is being consumed.

In related news, Hunt Power has also formed an alliance with Apogee Interactive to create a seamless solution in the demand response and energy efficiency markets targeted to utilities and their commercial and industrial customers. The companies announced their partnership at the 7th Annual Peak Load Management Alliance spring conference in Washington, D.C.

The Apogee-Hunt alliance is designed to capitalize on Apogee’s intellectual property and expertise as the developer of the largest web-based demand response trading platform in the U.S. and New Zealand and on Hunt Power’s energy data management and energy efficiency offerings.

Through a combination of web-based systems, the seamless solution is designed to automatically collect, analyze and present real-time energy and cost information to end-use customers. By simplifying and transforming complex data into actionable items, the program hopes to capture management’s attention and broaden their participation beyond energy management to demand response.

Together, Apogee and Hunt Power will focus on delivering solutions with the highest accountability and will offer two options for participation: a fee-for- services model to implement programs for utilities or their customers, including a substantial pay-for-performance component; and a straightforward contracting model to provide demand response and energy efficiency under long-term contracts similar to utility purchase power agreements with generators.

The Apogee-Hunt alliance is already preparing for the next market innovation, The Demand Response Resource Bank, which is a market entity that will finance demand response capacity and transparently provide market signals regarding that capacity without regulatory intervention.࢝®à¢®

SuperVAR Enters Manufacturing Phase

American Superconductor Corp. (AMSC) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) announced the start of production of two SuperVAR dynamic synchronous condensers. AMSC’s SuperVAR dynamic synchronous condenser stabilizes grid voltages, increases service reliability and can help maximize transmission capacity. These two SuperVAR systems are expected to be the world’s first commercial high-temperature superconductor products to be utilized on the grid, according to the company. AMSC expects to ship the first of the two SuperVAR machines in late 2006 and the second in early 2007. TVA retains an option to purchase three additional SuperVAR machines.

The two SuperVAR systems TVA purchased will each be rated at 12 megaVAR (MVAR), which is 4 MVAR higher than the advanced prototype. The 33 percent higher reactive power rating was selected to provide a more powerful, more broadly applicable grid solution. The skid-mounted system is about the size of a container ship cargo box and fits readily into electrical substations.

The production release of the 12-MVAR machines follows the test of AMSC’s advanced prototype SuperVAR synchronous condenser at a TVA electrical substation serving a steel mill in Gallatin, Tenn. Since it was first synchronized with the TVA grid in January 2005, the advanced prototype SuperVAR synchronous condenser has operated successfully through more than 5 million voltage sags and surges (2,300 steel mill melt cycles).

SuperVAR machines serve as “shock absorbers” for the grid-injecting or absorbing reactive power (measured in volt-amperes-reactive or VARs) to minimize sudden and large voltage fluctuations. Voltage regulation is critical to the success of a variety of industries that require reliable as well as very high-quality electric power; for industrial usage it helps keep equipment running at high production rates preventing the shutdown of sensitive electronic manufacturing equipment; for utilities it can help stabilize the grid; and for wind farms it provides the ability to ride through high voltage situations as well as provide the dynamic voltage regulation and control required to meet interconnection standards.࢝®à¢®

Itron Teams with Cannon Technologies, GeoSpatial Innovations

Itron recently announced two partnerships with other industry companies.

First, a partnership with Cannon Technologies will enable Itron to augment its wireless fixed network technology with Cannon’s power line carrier (PLC) technology to provide utilities with an integrated advanced metering solution.

Under the partnership agreement, Itron can offer investor-owned utilities Cannon Technologies’ PCL technology to remotely read Itron CENTRON solid-state meters in lower-density service areas. Cannon’s power line carrier technology uses the utility’s own power lines to communicate with the CENTRON meters and collect advanced metering data.

The agreement enables investor-owned utilities serving large territories and multiple states-including rural areas-to use the combination of Itron and Cannon’s technologies in a single advanced metering solution ideally suited to characteristics of their service territory and customer base.

Cannon Technologies is installing its PLC technology in Itron’s CENTRON meter in the municipal and cooperative markets to provide end-to-end solutions that utilize Cannon’s 18 years of expertise in distribution automation, automated metering and demand response.

Secondly, Itron announced a partnership with GeoSpatial Innovations Inc. (GSI), a developer of field technology solutions for energy and communications companies, to provide a field-to-office technology solution for electric line designers and engineers.

Under the agreement, Itron Distribution Staker will now come bundled with GSI’s Pocket Designer field software. Utilities that purchase Distribution Staker will have access to a seamless field-to-office solution for creating overhead or underground electric line designs in the field. With this partnership utilities now have the flexibility to complete their field design on a tablet, laptop or a handheld Pocket PC device.

Itron Distribution Staker runs on a desktop, laptop or tablet computer and combines computer-aided design rendering and editing capabilities with robust data sharing, reporting and estimating tools. While a designer uses the embedded design tools to create layouts and construction drawings, Distribution Staker automatically generates a complete and consistent construction packet including material lists, customer estimates, utility cost estimates, staking sheets and more.

GSI’s Pocket Designer software runs on a Pocket PC and allows engineers and designers to quickly capture locations of structures and cables. Electrical workers can complete a paperless electric line design by adding construction units and notes while working in the field. Pocket Designer produces an average labor savings of 20 percent per job by eliminating manual methods for measuring, sketching and re-keying data obtained in the field.

End users will also have the option of purchasing a global positioning system (GPS) module that provides an interface to a GPS receiver and GPS post-processing differential correction for increased accuracy.࢝®à¢®

CenterPoint Energy, IBM Deploy Intelligent Grid Technology

CenterPoint Energy Inc.’s electric transmission and distribution subsidiary, CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric, will follow a broadband over power line (BPL) pilot program completed in 2005 with a limited deployment of “intelligent grid” technology, which will focus on enhancing the efficiency and reliability of CenterPoint Energy’s utility operations. IBM has been selected as the technology and implementation partner for the project.

The limited deployment of intelligent grid technology will involve CenterPoint Energy installing, testing and monitoring automated meter reading (AMR) of electric and natural gas meters, remote connection and disconnection of electric service, and automated outage detection and restoration. BPL technology will be used for the data communications network.

“An Intelligent Grid would provide us with on-demand data and information that would enhance service to our customers and improve electric power line grid planning, operations and maintenance,” said Don Cortez, vice president of distribution support for CenterPoint Energy’s electric operations. “This would contribute to fewer and shorter outages, better customer service, improved operating costs and security, and higher productivity.”

IBM has tapped its energy industry business consultants and technology experts to provide overall project management and system integration services for the deployment. IBM Global Services will also design and build the BPL network for the project, aid CenterPoint Energy in the design of the automated meter management system, develop associated interfaces with existing systems, and provide technical operations support.

During 2006, CenterPoint Energy will deploy the new technology in three separate areas of Houston covering a diverse mix of electric (44,500) and gas (22,500) customers, as well as multi- and single-family homes and commercial customers.

In this new deployment, a key objective will be to validate the projected benefits, cost and performance metrics, and installation and operational processes. In addition, the company will work with IBM to establish overall benchmarks for a potential full deployment. Internet and other consumer applications are not a part of the 2006 limited deployment of the intelligent grid, but may be considered in the future.࢝®à¢®

Author

  • 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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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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