Phasor Project Goes Live in Eastern U.S.

A new integrated data network in the Eastern power grid is intended to help avoid a repeat of the August 2003 blackout.

The Eastern Interconnection Phasor Project (EIPP) went live this summer providing the first real-time, system-wide data to utilities and transmission operators within the Eastern power grid.

“If EIPP had been in place last year, it may have helped system operators take steps to avoid the August 14 blackout,” said Matt Donnelly, EIPP project lead at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. PNNL manages the project for DOE as part of the Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions.

“The project is about gathering and sharing information to provide complete coverage of the power grid in the eastern U.S.,” Donnelly said.

With each incremental addition to the EIPP network, the equipment and software that has been installed will provide operators with a big picture of the grid over the eastern half of the country.

“If operators can see a disruption or failure occurring elsewhere in the region, they can take actions that will potentially prevent a cascading loss of power from one system to the next,” said Mike Ingram of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

To get this data, new measurement technologies employing satellite-based time clocks are being installed at key locations on the grid to measure power flows in real time. The precise time clocks, along with sophisticated signal processing, allow the meters to provide more information than can be derived from traditional instruments.

Data concentrators then collect and integrate the data and disseminate it to participants, while software analysis tools make sense of the real-time monitoring.

DOE began working with major Eastern Interconnection utilities and independent system operators to develop a monitoring system in fall 2002 and began installing equipment in fall 2003. The project builds on PNNL’s 10 years of experience developing a similar measurement and analysis system for the Bonneville Power Administration and utilities in the western United States.

Initially, control centers near St. Louis; Columbus, Ohio; Chattanooga, Tenn.; New Orleans; and Schenectady, N.Y, were linked through the EIPP. They started sharing information in August. The EIPP project is expected to cover and connect most major eastern U.S. corridors by the end of 2005.

Matrix Fault Current Limiter Passes Proof-of-concept Tests

Successful proof-of-concept tests have been conducted on a new high-temperature superconducting ‘power valve’ that is intended to protect utility transmission grids from damaging power surges.

SuperPower, the energy technology subsidiary of Intermagnetics General Corp., is leading the development of the device, called the Matrix Fault Current Limiter (MFCL) in partnership with Nexans SuperConductors.

The MFCL development program is being undertaken as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Superconductivity Partnerships with Industry program. The DOE is contributing $6.1 million, or one-half of the projected $12.2 million development cost for the MFCL. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has committed $600,000 toward the project.

“This completes the first major milestone for this program and provides us with the basis to proceed with scaling the design to transmission-level operating voltages,” said Glenn H. Epstein, chairman and chief executive officer of Intermagnetics.

The proof-of-concept tests were performed on the first of a series of MFCL prototypes. Philip J. Pellegrino, president of SuperPower, elaborated on the tests: “The objective for this first prototype was to demonstrate that the MFCL reacts rapidly to a power surge and starts to limit the increase in short circuit current within about 4 milliseconds. This almost immediate response is attractive to electric utilities because it minimizes electrical and mechanical stress on system components, such as bus work, connectors, cables and transformers.”

Pellegrino added, “The tests also showed that the MFCL provides significant current limiting (as much as 50 percent limitation) within about 50 milliseconds, which is the time at which conventional circuit breakers start to open to isolate a short circuit. This feature could obviate the need to upgrade multiple circuit breakers in transmission substations because, without the addition of an MFCL, their interrupting capability would eventually be exceeded. Depending upon the number of breaker replacements, or in a worse case, the necessity to build a new substation, the avoided cost could be many millions of dollars.”

The tests were conducted at KEMA Power Test, the largest short circuit test facility in the United States, located in Chalfont, Pa. The MFCL was tested at short circuit current levels up to 27,000 amperes. SuperPower will continue to use this first prototype as a test bed and gather additional data needed to scale the MFCL to transmission level applications. SuperPower expects to test the next prototype, which will be designed to withstand transmission-level voltage requirements, in late 2005.

3M and CTC Cables Get First Commercial Applications

3M’s new aluminum composite conductor reinforced (ACCR), an overhead power conductor that reportedly doubles the electrical transmission capacity of conventional conductors of the same diameter, will receive its first commercial application early next year, when Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy installs the ACCR on a 10-mile transmission line in the Twin Cities region.

Xcel Energy is using the conductor to increase the capacity of a transmission line that extends from Shakopee to Burnsville. The upgrade is part of a $100 million expansion project at the utility’s Blue Lake peaking plant in Shakopee, which is needed to ensure a reliable supply of power to Xcel Energy’s customers in the Upper Midwest during periods of peak electricity demand.

3M’s ACCR is intended as a solution to thermally constrained transmission bottlenecks that have increasingly plagued the grid in recent years.

“We found 3M’s new composite conductor to be the right solution for boosting capacity and reliability on a line that is an integral part of the grid in the Upper Midwest,” said Don Jones, Xcel Energy’s director of transmission asset management. Jones said the 3M conductor was chosen, in part, because it will allow Xcel to increase line capacity without installing new towers.

Composite Technology Corporation (CTC) also recently announced the first commercial overhead installation of its proprietary Aluminum Conductor Composite Core (ACCC) high-performance electrical power cable.

This initial installation in the city of Holland, Mich., utilized more than 3,000 feet of ACCC conductor. The ACCC conductor replaced existing conventional utility power cable in the municipality’s power distribution system. The installation utilized CTC’s ACCC “Hawk” size utility power cable and spanned several support structures while utilizing compression dead ends and splices jointly developed by CTC and FCI/Burndy for installing the cable. The city of Holland is planning on upgrading its distribution system during the next few years to meet the growing energy demands of its customers.

Arizona Co-op Expects Savings from AMR System

Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative (SSVEC) has begun deployment of Hunt Technologies’ TS1 automatic meter reading (AMR) system to about 12,000 of its rural members. Based in Willcox, Ariz., the co-op supplies power to the majority of Cochise County, a sprawling agricultural county in southeastern Arizona. It has already deployed 5,600 TS1 endpoints to the remotest parts of the county.

Al Smith, technical services supervisor at SSVEC, said the utility looked for the most cost-efficient way to begin deploying AMR. “Starting in the remote areas was definitely the quickest way for us to get payback on the system,” he said.

From a service area that includes some 44,000 meters, the co-op picked 12,000 of the most remote meters to concentrate deployment. Most of the initial savings and efficiency will be seen in the hours it takes a meter reader to cover such a large territory. Some areas require a meter reader to drive 100 miles one-way to read a handful of meters.

In addition to collecting billing information, Smith said SSVEC plans to install up to 22 end-of-line voltage meters to monitor power quality. He said they have also used information from the TS1 system to locate power diversions and blown fuses.

Once the deployment is complete, Smith expects a reduction in the meter reading staff through attrition. “We have a few meter readers who are ready to retire, and now we’ll be in a position where we won’t have to replace them,” he said.

The TS1 System is a one-way communication system that uses power line carrier technology to send information from the meter to the substation, where it is relayed to the utility.


Contract Awards and Extensions

Nevada Power has awarded an $11 million contract to ABB to supply dead-tank circuit breakers. The breakers will be installed in 2006 at the Mead substation, south of Hoover Dam.

Entergy Corp. has awarded three flexible ac transmission system (FACTS) projects to Siemens Power T&D. The projects include two static VAR compensators and one fixed-series capacitor that will be built at three primary Entergy substations in Texas and Louisiana.

OG&E Electric Services of Oklahoma City is proceeding with expansion of its substation monitoring system using Cannon Technologies’ Substation Advisor and Esubstation products. Cannon has received an order from OG&E to add the systems to five substations in Oklahoma and Arkansas, with additional expansion planned for subsequent years.

Georgia Power Co. has awarded a multi-million dollar contract to Mitsubishi Electric Power Products for the design, manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of a transmission-level static VAR compensator (SVC) system to provide dynamic VAR and voltage support in Laurens County, Ga. The scheduled in-service date for the project is May 1, 2005.

Southern Illinois Power Co-op (SIPC) has awarded a contract to Open Systems International for a replacement SCADA/EMS. The system will be installed in the SIPC operations control center in Marion, Ill., to replace an existing SCADA system.

DTE Energy of Detroit has selected MDSI Mobile Data Solutions’ Advantex r7 software to help the company manage field operations for its electric and gas divisions.

International Transmission Co. has ordered two D-VAR transmission grid reliability systems from American Superconductor Corp. and GE Energy. The units will be installed in a 120-kV transmission system in east-central Michigan in two separate substations.

Alliances, Mergers and Acquisitions

Enspiria Solutions has acquired the U.S. and Canadian Convergent Group businesses from Atos Origin. Convergent Group provides consulting and systems integration services to utilities and telecom customers.

GE Energy has acquired the assets of three business unites of S.D. Myers Inc. The three units are Ohio Transformer, a provider of transformer repair, rewind and re-manufacturing services; S.D. Myers Substation Services, a supplier of field services for substation maintenance; and S.D. Myers Engineered Transformer Products, which provides oil reclamation systems, dry-out solutions and oil-cooling systems for transformers.

GE Energy also recently completed its acquisition of Fluidex Engineering of South Africa. Fluidex is a developer of advanced technology in transformer oil processing and one of the world’s largest manufacturers of transformer oil regeneration plants.

Cooper Power Systems and Cargill Industrial Oils and Lubricants have entered into an alliance that will result in increased production of Cooper’s Envirotemp FR3 fluid, which is used as an insulating fluid in distribution transformers. North American production of the fluid will move from Cooper’s Waukesha, Wis., plant to Cargill’s plant in Chicago.

Telvent, an IT solutions provider, and Miner & Miner, a provider and implementer of GIS software, have formed a partnership to jointly provide enterprise GIS products and IT services to utilities worldwide.

Otter Tail Power Installs Monitoring and Reporting Solution

Minnesota-based Otter Tail Power Co. has completed the first phase of a new interruption monitoring system for its distribution system. Telemetric Corp. provided a complete monitoring system including intelligent Telemetric Voltage Monitoring (TVM1/3) units, secure wireless communications, and integrated reliability reporting software. The system replaces an older system, which had become difficult to maintain and did not meet current industry reliability standards.

Otter Tail Power installed more than 700 Telemetric TVM1 devices to monitor its distribution feeders. The system collects interruption data and automatically generates industry-standard power reliability performance indicators, including:

  • SAIDI (System Average interruption Duration Index),
  • SAIFI (System Average Interruption Frequency Index),
  • CAIDI (Customer Average Interruption Duration Index), and
  • MAIFI (Momentary Average Interruption Frequency Index).

Otter Tail Power also purchased Telemetric TVM3 three-phase power monitoring devices for trouble shooting sites such as key account businesses or end-of-line locations.

According to Rod Scheel, Otter Tail’s vice president of asset management, the new solution gives company personnel real-time access to reliability data anywhere they have an Internet connection.

The Telemetric TVM1 (single-phase) and TVM3 (three-phase) monitoring devices provide the base hardware for the system. Both products monitor line voltages against user-defined outage and over/under voltage parameters and report exceptions. The TVMs communicate through the control channel of the public wireless network.

As part of the project, Telemetric developed a new reliability reporting software application that was customized for Otter Tail Power. In addition, the reliability data can be integrated to a utility’s existing systems through a variety of methods, including SCADA integration via Telemetric’s SCADA Xchange, or via XML-based integration to the customer’s internal software.


  • 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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