E2I and EPRI Unveil Architecture for Power Grid Upgrade

At a briefing in Washington in mid-October, the Electricity Innovation Institute (E2I), an affiliate of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), announced completion of the first phase of the Intelligrid Architecture, a comprehensive communications architecture for the power delivery system of the future. The result is a unified vision for upgrading the power system that will save time and money for systems designers, and ensure compatibility with future technologies.

The Intelligrid vision links communications and electricity into a “smart grid”-an integrated, “self healing” and electronically controlled power system that will offer unprecedented flexibility and functionality, and improve system security. Intelligrid’s non-proprietary open architecture can be adopted by all manufacturers, promoting interoperability and better communication.

“The knowledge-based economy of the future will require a smart power delivery system that links information technology with energy delivery,” said Clark Gellings, EPRI’s vice president of power delivery and markets. “The concept of the smart power delivery system includes automated capabilities to recognize problems, find solutions, and optimize the performance of the system.”

Development of the Intelligrid Architecture was sponsored by E2I’s Consortium for Electric Infrastructure to Support a Digital Society (CEIDS), a partnership among industry, utilities, and government to create the “smart grid” to support future industries and business. CEIDS partners include Alliant Energy, California Energy Commission, Bonneville Power Administration, Con Edison, Electricite de France, Long Island Power Authority, New York Power Authority, Polish Power Grid, Public Service Electric and Gas, Salt River Project, TXU Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, United Technologies, and We Energies.

To develop the Intelligrid Architecture, a diverse team of industry experts led by GE Global Research brought extensive utility industry and standards-making experience to the task of defining the requirements and the technical approach for the project. The report, which is publicly available free of charge on the Internet at includes a catalog of the functions of the electricity system, a set of design tools, and recommendations for standards and technologies.

The Intelligrid Architecture is being applied by utilities such as Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and Electricite de France (EDF).

“At Long Island Power Authority we see immense value in the Intelligrid Architecture,” said LIPA vice president, Bruce Germano. “We are currently applying the tools and recommendations of the Intelligrid Architecture to help us build several upgrades of our current system.”

At this time, Intelligrid Architecture tools are also being used in the following ways:

  • The Department of Energy, New York Power Authority, and several other utilities are going to utilize its recommendations for communications standards and technologies in their efforts to expand and strengthen a Phasor measurement network for the Eastern Interconnection of the North American power grid.
  • The California Energy Commission will use these tools in working with three major California utilities to design automated demand response systems that will be consistent and interoperable.
  • Other utilities and government agencies are developing detailed plans now to use the Intelligrid Architecture databases and tools in a wide range of applications, including automated substation design, upgrading communications systems between control centers and power plants, and specifying compatibility with this Architecture as a requirement for new equipment acquisitions. ௣à¯£

Itron Spins Off New Company for Transmission Line, Substation Design

Itron Inc. announced in early November that it has granted exclusive licenses of its transmission and substation design software products to a new Spokane-based firm called Pondera Engineers. The agreement includes the sale and support of design tools such as TL-Pro, TLCADD and others.

On Oct. 7, 2004, Itron entered into a definitive agreement with Pondera Engineers. The agreement granted exclusive licenses of Itron’s transmission and substation product technologies to Pondera. The agreement also includes the transfer of certain assets associated with the granting of the licenses. Pondera is an independent, limited-liability corporation formed by former LineSoft/Itron engineers and software developers to provide services and software products specifically to the electric power transmission and substation segments of the energy industry.

In August, Itron announced that it would exit the transmission and substation design markets. By entering into the agreement with Pondera, Itron has enabled its design software products to be sold, supported and further developed by the same individuals who previously served those customers under the Itron brand.

Itron’s transmission design customers have expressed their satisfaction with both the products and support through the transition.

Broadband Over Powerline Technology Moves from Trials to Deployments

The delivery of broadband access has been marked in recent years by increasing competition between cable-television operators and local telephone companies. This market shows signs of becoming even more competitive with new technology and new groups of suppliers emerging. One example is broadband over power line (BPL) technology, which uses the electric power utility’s distribution lines to deliver not only power, but data services as well.

The idea of BPL technology is not new, but technological advances in recent years have improved the ability of BPL to compete as an alternative to DSL and cable-modems. These advances not only bring a new technology to market, they also bring a group of new “players” to the broadband market-electric power companies and municipal utility authorities as well as possible joint-ventures or partnerships with these entities.

Large, well-funded utilities and other companies are now committed to developing BPL capabilities. In a new report, Developments in Broadband over Power Lines, the Shpigler Group assesses the market potential of broadband over power lines (BPL). The report forecasts a ramp-up to a $2.5 billion worldwide market for equipment in the next five years, with a long-term outlook of serving more than 14 million customers in the United States within 10 years.

Since 2002, BPL has progressed from a handful of trials to nearly 100 trials and early-stage commercial deployments in North America. Some of these deployments involve commitments to serve thousands of users.

BPL offers a competitive mix of deployment costs, service capabilities, and operational benefits compared with fiber, DSL and other media being used or developed for broadband access. It also is well-suited for a large number of services, including smart-home services, energy management, and other utility applications, as well as high-speed Internet access. BPL also offers flexibility for being combined with fiberoptic feeder systems or wireless technology to offer hybrid solutions.

The report, Developments in Broadband over Power Lines, describes BPL systems, architecture, applications and competitiveness. The report also examines questions of whether and how a viable business strategy can be established, and draws on the Shpigler Group’s extensive background within the telecom and utility industries. The report is authored by the Shpigler Group, of Nyack, NY, and is available from KMI Research (, a PennWell company. Those interested in the report can contact Kathleen Skelton at (401) 243-8114 or

AMR System Survives Hurricane Ivan in Alabama, Mississippi

Southern Company service territories in Alabama and Mississippi were among the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Ivan when it came ashore from the Gulf of Mexico on the evening of Sept. 15. Yet despite top winds of 135 miles per hour, a deluge of rainfall and sporadic tornadoes throughout the region, a new generation of automatic meter reading (AMR) installations not only survived the storm but operated flawlessly throughout the ordeal.

The patent pending AMR technology-from Advanced Metering Data Systems-represents a new approach to the gathering, transport and dissemination of utility metering data that is based on a wireless network architecture.

“AMDS avoids reliance on complex third-party cellular and RF common carriers that can default to busy signals and must first be reinitialized after a catastrophic outage, said Marc Reed, AMDS vice president of systems and software. “Because the AMDS system controls all critical communications elements, it was able to keep operating throughout the storm, collecting valuable meter readings, power failure events, power restorations, and line voltage readings even in Hurricane Ivan’s hardest hit areas. Our tower network remained 100 percent operational the during entire storm, even though some tower sites operated for 8 hours or more on internal back-up power.

Formed in 2003 by a team of experienced industry professionals, AMDS provides automatic meter reading technology and monitoring services to electric, gas and water utilities using patented technology and a dedicated, FCC-licensed fixed wireless network.

Upgrades at SDG&E Substation Improve Reliability, Reduce Energy Costs

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) recently energized a new 500-kV switchyard and transformer at its Miguel substation site in Bonita two months ahead of schedule.

The project involved building a gas-insulated substation within the existing boundaries of the original substation site, which is the western terminus of the Southwest Powerlink, SDG&E’s only east-west electric transmission corridor. The upgrades were finished in a little more than a year.

Completion of the Miguel substation project was a top priority for the company,” said David L. Geier, SDG&E’s vice president of electric transmission and distribution. “This project, along with completion of a 230-kV transmission line now under construction from Miguel to our Mission substation, will help improve the reliability of the overall power grid in Southern California. It also will save millions of dollars in energy costs for customers by reducing transmission congestion.”

The project allows SDG&E to import 100 MW to 400 MW more power through the Miguel substation, providing better access to less expensive electricity imports. SDG&E estimates energy cost savings of about $18 million a year by easing the electricity bottleneck at Miguel. Those savings are due to reduced congestion charges and to avoiding the added expense of running older, less efficient local power plants.

SDG&E pointed out that the $30 million substation project is a cost-effective solution to address the transmission congestion problems that threatened to cause regional outages for Southern California this year.

The substation is a major interconnection between Arizona and California. Regulating agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Independent System Operator, have identified the Miguel substation as one of the most congested intersections on the state’s power grid. As the electricity demand has grown, the power gridlock at Miguel also has gotten worse.

Unique to the Miguel project is the use of gas insulation in a 500-kV substation. While the technology has been around for some time, this is the first time SDG&E has used it to expand a substation. The novel approach enabled the company to shrink the facility to fit within a fraction of the space usually required.

An air-insulated 500-kV substation typically takes up an area the size of nine football fields, but with the gas-insulated-substation technology, the equipment fits inside a building smaller than one-fourth of a football field.

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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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