News

NERC Adopts New Reliability Standards

The Board of Trustees of the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) in early February unanimously agreed to adopt a comprehensive set of reliability standards for the bulk electric system.

The new reliability standards incorporate the existing NERC operating policies, planning standards, and compliance requirements into an integrated and comprehensive set of measurable reliability standards. The new standards will apply to all entities that play a role in maintaining bulk electric system reliability in the United States and Canada. NERC developed these reliability standards using its American National Standards Institute-accredited standards development process. Industry stakeholders voted overwhelmingly in January to approve the new standards.

“The adoption of these standards is a significant step forward and also provides a solid foundation for the continuing development of clear, enforceable reliability standards necessary to ensure the reliability of the North American bulk electric system,” said Michehl R. Gent, NERC president and CEO. “NERC is fully committed to work with the industry to implement these new reliability standards across North America on schedule.”

FERC Chairman Pat Wood, III, was present as the board adopted the new standards. “To respond to the August 2003 blackout, it was imperative that we develop crisp, enforceable standards. Adopting these new standards is good for customers and good for North America,” Wood said. “I congratulate the board, the NERC staff, and everyone in the industry who completed this tough task so swiftly.”

The new reliability standards were to take effect on April 1, 2005. The new reliability standards can be found at http://www.nerc.com/~filez/standards/Reliability_Standards.html.௣à¯£

Consumers Power becomes First Oregon Co-op to Fully Deploy AMR

Consumers Power Inc., a Philomath, Ore.-based rural electric cooperative, recently completed full deployment of the Turtle System, a power line carrier-based automatic meter reading (AMR) system from Hunt Technologies Inc. Consumers Power serves about 20,000 members in six Oregon counties and is the first co-op in Oregon to fully deploy an AMR system.

The co-op began deploying AMR in 1998 to remote rural areas. In 2004, it deployed 11,000 Turtle endpoints to complete all of its residential and small commercial accounts.

Office manager Traci Anderson said that in addition to daily meter reads, Consumers Power is looking for the system to improve efficiencies in other ways.

“A big benefit of the system for us is that we no longer have to shut off power when a customer moves out or send out a serviceman to read a meter when a new customer moves in. That saves a lot of time and money,” Anderson said.

From an operations perspective, the system has helped Consumers Power identify phasing and clean up mapping data.௣à¯£

Delgado Touts ATC Model for Transmission Investment

The stand-alone transmission company model is in a better position to make the necessary system investments because it focuses solely on providing reliable service on a non-discriminatory basis to all transmission users, said American Transmission Co. (ATC) president and CEO Jose Delgado at the recent 7th Annual Transmission Summit in Washington, D.C.

ATC has invested more than $500 million in strengthening its transmission system since Jan. 1, 2001, when it began operations as a stand-alone transmission company. The investment doubled the company’s assets, making it a $1 billion company last year. An additional $300 million investment is planned for this year.

“We have significant congestion in the upper Midwest, created in part by a lack of investment,” Delgado said. “The stand-alone model has worked very well in Wisconsin and Michigan, and it’s a model that may be transferable to other regions.

“There is considerable debate as to why companies are not investing in the system,” he continued. “While there are real impediments to getting new transmission facilities built, that does not mean it can’t be done.”

Delgado said ATC’s structure properly aligns the incentive to build with the needs of all customers in its service area, which, he said, is not the case for either integrated companies or merchant transmission. Integrated utilities face difficult decisions in the allocation of their capital, and building transmission for others is not as profitable as other choices available to them, Delgado said in his remarks.

On the other hand, Delgado noted, merchant transmission is built based on specific market opportunities which seldom present themselves in a stable way, and that is not the way to meet the “obligation to serve” that the public expects from an electric utility.

“In the long run, merchant transmission and reliance on market-based approaches will not work to stimulate significant investment,” Delgado said. “The majority of investment will come from regulated companies where there is an incentive to build. Our ability and willingness to expand our system is driven by our focus as a stand-alone transmission company, which is fundamentally different from other business models.”

Delgado added that a company providing only transmission service attracts and builds the expertise necessary to successfully invest in the system. “At any given time, we have hundreds of projects-from small maintenance projects to the largest transmission line project in the state’s history-in the works. We learn how to do it better by doing it every day,” he said.௣à¯£

Progress Energy Florida Improves Reliability

Progress Energy Florida has completed its three-year Commitment to Excellence plan, achieving the major reliability and operational improvement objectives the company promised in February 2002.

Progress Energy was created from the merger of Carolina Power & Light and Florida Power in November 2000. After evaluating the former Florida Power’s strengths and opportunities, Progress Energy Florida CEO Bill Habermeyer outlined an aggressive three-year plan to measurably improve customer satisfaction, operational performance and reliability, reduce prices, and raise employee satisfaction and safety performance-the Commitment to Excellence plan.

A major part of the plan was to increase power reliability. At the time of the merger, on average the company’s Florida customers were without power for more than 100 minutes annually. Progress Energy had promised to decrease that number to no more than 80 minutes by year-end 2004, and guaranteed its pledge through a $3 million commitment to the customer if the company failed to meet the outage reduction goal. Progress Energy recently filed with the Florida Public Service Commission, reporting the company had reduced the average to 77 minutes in 2004, beating its goal by three minutes.

“Reaching our reliability goal is a credit to the hard work of all of our employees,” said Habermeyer. “It’s also proof that if you invest strategically, and ensure your people are in the right place with the right tools, great things can happen.”

Progress Energy invested more than $100 million in new facilities, replaced older equipment, established a new tree pruning program, and invested in new trucks, technology and tools for linemen working in the field. To shorten outages and quicken response times, the company moved crews closer to customers through the addition of new operation centers in Longwood, Odena, Winter Garden and Tarpon Springs, and renovated other operation centers throughout its 35-county service territory. Additional renovations are planned.௣à¯£

American Superconductor to Connect Canadian Wind Farm to Grid

American Superconductor Corp. recently announced a new order for one of its D-VAR voltage regulation system for the Kettles Hill wind farm near the U.S.-Canadian border.

The Kettles Hill project is located in the vicinity of Pincher Creek at the southern end of the province of Alberta, near the border with Montana and Idaho. When completed in spring 2006, the facility will include 35 Vestas wind turbines for generating up to 63 MWs of zero-emission energy.

The voltage regulation system purchased by Kettles Hill consists of a single D-VAR unit and ancillary equipment such as transformers and capacitor banks. In this configuration, the system will dynamically regulate the voltage for the entire wind farm at the point of connection to the transmission grid. Instead of allowing voltage to fluctuate up or down as wind speed changes, the D-VAR solution will maintain a steady voltage for the power flowing onto the transmission grid. Operating this way, the D-VAR system makes it possible for wind farms to meet the interconnection requirements of the local transmission grid operator-in this case, Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO).

Overall, this is the seventh wind farm in North America and the eighth worldwide to incorporate AMSC’s advanced D-VAR voltage control technologies. It is also the fourth time wind farm developers in North America have paired AMSC’s D-VAR systems with Vestas wind turbines.௣à¯£

GE Energy Upgrades Transmission Systems at Two OG&E Sites

GE Energy recently announced the completion of two transmission improvement projects for OG&E Electric Services’ sites. The projects required GE to design, manufacture and deliver autotransformers in a short amount of time. One autotransformer was delivered to the OG&E Draper Lake substation in Oklahoma, and the other was delivered to their Ft. Smith, Ark., site.

The autotransformers were manufactured by GE Energy’s transformer subsidiary in Mexico, GE-Prolec. They will be used to tie two different system voltages together. GE-Prolec designed, manufactured and delivered the first unit to the Ft. Smith site in 2004. This project included a major design change from 345kV to 500kV. This autotransformer was rated 240/320/400 MVA, 500-161 kV with an on-load tap changer. It was one of the largest transformers ever built at the Monterrey facility, with a weight of approximately 500,000 pounds. It was delivered six days ahead of its critical schedule.

Additionally, FERC requested another autotransformer at the Draper Lake substation in a short amount of time. This autotransformer was also rated 240/320/400 MVA, 345-144.9 kV without an on-load tap changer. GE-Prolec delivered the Draper Lake unit in late 2004. The substation is scheduled for completion in early 2005.

OG&E completed a lengthy process in late 2002 to determine its alliance partner for power transformers. GE-Prolec was chosen based on its scope of products, experienced designs, consistent performance and execution of previous orders. Since the alliance was formed, GE-Prolec has delivered 19 power transformers to OG&E ranging from 7.5 MVA up to 400 MVA.௣à¯£

Global Study Suggests Utilities Moving to Digital Relays

The Newton-Evans Research Company recently completed a six-month research program, conducting a global survey of protective relay usage patterns in the world’s electric power business. Findings from more than 100 North American utilities and from more than 40 utilities from major countries around the world point to a number of changes in purchase and application of protective relays over the last few years.

The percentage of digital relays in the mix of the millions of protective relays used by the world’s utilities continues to increase. Nearly 45 percent of the installed generator and transmission line relays in North America are now digital units. The majority of all new and retrofit relays being purchased for electric utility use are now digital units. There continue to be several niche market opportunities for the application of electro-mechanical and solid-state relays. International utilities in many regions are now moving more rapidly to digital technology than was the case in the 2002 study by Newton-Evans.

Among the study’s highlights are the following observations:

Collectively, the seven largest global suppliers of protective relays shipped more than $1 billion worth of relays in 2004 to utilities, industrial accounts and OEM customers. These manufacturers include ABB, Areva T&D, Basler Electric, General Electric, Schneider Electric, Schweitzer Engineering Labs and Siemens PT&D. Another 25 or so manufacturers produced and shipped more than $300 million.

Internationally, utilities tested installed relays at twice the frequency as their North American counterparts. Digital relays tend to have longer time intervals between tests than do either electro-mechanical or solid state units.

Relay communications security improvements have been made over the last two years. Multi-tiered passwords, random password setting, secured lines and proprietary communications methods are among tighter security measures being implemented at utilities around the world. Many utilities indicated they no longer allow remote access to relay settings data. Protection and control staffs at utilities continue to request more and better safeguards against tampering, security from unauthorized remote accesses, especially those that want to make use of IP addressability features.

Further information on the research series “The World Market for Protective Relays in Electric Utilities: 2004-2006″ is available from Newton-Evans Research Company (www.newton-evans.com), 10176 Baltimore National Pike, Suite 204, Ellicott City, Md. 21042; phone: (410) 465-7316.௣à¯£

Hydro-Quebec to get World’s First HVDC-based De-icing System

Hydro-Quebec has awarded a contract to Areva T&D to build the world’s first HVDC-based de-icing and power quality system.

During the ice storms that struck Quebec in winter 1998, hundreds of kilometers of high-voltage transmission lines and thousands of transmission towers collapsed due to an accumulation of ice, leaving millions of people without electricity. To optimize the security of its power grid, Hydro-Quebec has contracted Areva T&D to build and install HVDCice, a transmission line de-icing system based on high-voltage direct current (HVDC) technology.

Areva’s HVDCice will generate up to 7,200 amps of direct current in the transmission lines, which will increase their temperature to melt off ice. The HVDCice system will be implemented at the Làƒ©vis substation, a major connection point for the transmission lines of the province. At the heart of HVDCice will be Areva’s latest thyristor valve, currently being implemented in the Konti-Skan HVDC project linking the power systems of Denmark and Sweden.

When not in use for de-icing purposes, the system will act as a Static Var Compensator (SVC). It will improve the power quality of the transmission network, which covers the metropolitan region of Quebec, by stabilizing voltage on the 735-kV power grid.

Areva T&D will work closely with engineering and construction company SNC-Lavalin, which will supervise the civil works, coordinate with the subcontractors and carry out engineering studies.

The system will cover approximately 600 kilometers of transmission lines and is expected to be operational by fall 2006.௣à¯£

ABB Completes Another Gas-insulated Substation in Burbank

ABB has completed a $4.5 million installation of a 69-kV gas-insulated substation design build substation project for the Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA). Burbank Water and Power is the host utility for the project, which is called the Magnolia Power Project. This is the fifth ABB gas-insulated substation to be located in Burbank.

Burbank Water & Power Department supports an influential and demanding customer base including many of the major motion picture studios, such as Disney, Warner Brothers and NBC. Three out of the five ABB gas-insulated substations are located at the studios’ property and blend well with the neighboring buildings at the studios.

The Magnolia Power Project is constructed on approximately four acres of the existing Burbank Water and Power generating station site and will further improve regional electric reliability by dramatically increasing the amount of local generation that is not dependent on long interstate transmission lines. Six cities from SCPPA participated in the project including Anaheim, Burbank, Cerritos, Colton, Glendale and Pasadena.

Gas-insulated substations offer unique advantages over air-insulated applications. Gas-insulated substations use SF6 gas that reduces the distance needed between active and non-active switchgear parts resulting in smaller overall space requirements (ideal for congested city areas). They also offer lower operating and maintenance costs; and are less sensitive to pollution, salt, sand and large amounts of snow.௣à¯£

Cal ISO Approves Major Transmission Line in Southern Cal

The California Independent System Operator (California ISO) board of governors recently approved a major high-voltage power line that will boost the ability to import power from the Southwest to heavily populated areas of Southern California. Southern California Edison’s Palo Verde-Devers 2 (PVD2) expansion project evolved out of the Southwest Transmission Expansion Plan (STEP). STEP is a sub-regional planning group tackling transmission bottlenecks that tie up megawatts coming from southern Nevada, Arizona and northern Mexico. The California ISO is a major participant in STEP, which is a model for regional grid planning in the Western region.

“This project brings terrific benefits to the people of California and particularly those in Southern California where the demand for electricity is growing at a rapid pace,” said Ken Wiseman, ISO board chair.

PVD2 is a 230-mile 500-kV transmission line that connects the Palo Verde Substation in Arizona with the Devers Substation in Southern California. It also includes rebuilding four 230-kV lines and some other improvements to area grid facilities. The project could be on-line in 2009, providing an additional 1,200 MWs of transmission capacity. The estimated cost is $680 million.

“This power line is an excellent example of the type of transmission upgrades necessary to strengthen the transmission backbone of Southern California,” said Ron Nunnally, director of federal regulation and contracts for Southern California Edison. “To meet growing demand for electricity, SCE plans to continue expanding and upgrading its Southern California transmission and distribution systems.”à¯£à¯£

ESRI, Telvent and Miner & Miner to Integrate Products

Telvent GIT, Miner & Miner and ESRI are moving forward to build an integrated product suite that will enable energy utilities and other enterprises to make better strategic use of real-time and spatial information. Using the framework of the ArcFM Solution based on the core technology of ESRI’s ArcGIS and Telvent’s OASyS DNA product suite, plans for a complete integrated product line are under way.

Telvent has recently acquired a majority stake in Miner & Miner to strengthen its position as a global real-time IT company. The Telvent investment in Miner & Miner will allow the ArcFM Solution to expand and add spatially-integrated network and asset data to the real-time environment.

“The concept of taking real-time data and integrating it with spatial and other operational data isn’t new,” said Jeff Meyers, Miner & Miner president. “This strategy is not just about products, but also about the integration frameworks and skill sets to bring the solution to life, either in total, or in part. Most utilities today have some or even all of the components of an integrated enterprise, so we can’t base our success on providing every aspect of the solution. Instead, we have to implement a framework that allows for use of ArcFM and OASyS DNA components, along with applications from other vendors.”

Initial development includes integrating Miner & Miner’s Responder OMS product with Telvent’s flagship OASyS DNA SCADA platform. Integration with other spatial applications will follow, along with development to support the energy, traffic, transportation and environment industries.

Manuel Sàƒ¡nchez, Telvent CEO, is optimistic about the value of the integrated solution. “We see utilities and other enterprises as being able to benefit from the marriage of our respective technologies and the application of our joint skills,” he said. “We have worked hard to maximize the potential of the open real-time design of OASyS, and now, through reinforcing our partnership with ArcGIS and ArcFM, we will be able to leverage that open systems architecture to the benefit of the entire market.”

“What is interesting about this partnership is the potential benefit to utility companies and their customers,” said Jack Dangermond, ESRI president. “Here you have a combination of a core GIS technology leader, and focused solution leader, and a strong international real-time IT leader, all committed to serving the market in an integrated way. Eventually, the enterprise and the consumers that they serve will reap the benefits.”à¯£à¯£

J.D. Power Recognizes Cinergy for Call Center Excellence

J.D. Power and Associates recently announced that it had certified Cinergy’s customer service call centers in Indiana and Ohio. Cinergy is the first energy company in the United States to be recognized as a J.D. Power and Associates Certified Call Center for providing “An Outstanding Customer Service Experience.”

To become certified, Cinergy’s call centers were required to pass a detailed audit of their processes in areas such as quality assurance, process improvement initiatives, recruiting, training, employee incentives and management roles. In addition, J.D. Power and Associates conducted a random survey of Cinergy customers who recently contacted its call centers. For certification status, a call center must perform within the top 20 percent of customer service, based on J.D. Power and Associates’ cross-industry customer satisfaction research. Certification is valid for one year.௣à¯£

APS Installs High-performance ‘ACCC’ Power Cable

Arizona Public Service Company (APS) has completed an installation of Composite Technology Corp.’s (CTC’s) proprietary Aluminum Conductor Composite Core (ACCC) high-performance electrical power cable at its Gavilan Peak Substation in Phoenix.

The installation will support the energizing of the new Gavilan Peak Substation. APS engineers and the Electric Power Research Institute will be monitoring the 69-kV line to document the conductor’s performance throughout changing seasonal conditions. This data will help further characterize the high-temperature performance of the ACCC conductor.

Bob Pitts, APS section leader responsible for the installation of the conductor, stated, “The conductor installed very easily. The installation of the deadends and splices went very smoothly with a very short learning curve. The compression fittings went on as easy as, if not easier than, ACSS compression hardware.” He also stated that he is “excited about its potential, and anxiously awaits the results of the EPRI testing.”

Benton Wilcoxon, CTC chairman and CEO, said the installation would provide APS and other industry decision makers a new standard for evaluating transmission cable technology. He said his company’s solution “offers the transmission industry an immediate opportunity to increase circuit capacity and a reduced cost per delivered kilowatt, while improving system safety and reliability. We are confident that the completion of this project will be instrumental in establishing future installations.”à¯£à¯£

Contract Awards and Extensions

ABB and ESRI have been selected to implement a new outage management system and geographic information system for City Public Service (CPS) of San Antonio, Texas. ABB and ESRI are joined on the project by Miner & Miner (design software) and Rolta International (data conversion services). The project will replace CPS’ legacy systems with state-of-the-art tools that are also integrated with customer service and crew management processes.

Farmington Electric Utility System of New Mexico has awarded a contract to Open Systems International (OSI) to implement an upgrade to the utility’s existing OSI energy management system. OSI was also recently awarded contracts by Rochelle Municipal Utilities (Illinois) and L&O Power Cooperative (Iowa) to supply replacement SCADA master stations to control the electrical systems of the respective utilities.

Itron has signed a contract with Wasaga Distribution Inc., electricity provider to approximately 10,000 customers in Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada, to provide the utility with Itron’s fixed network AMR technology and CENTRON meters.

The City of Lawrenceville, Ga., has awarded a multimillion dollar contract to Datamatic for a complete AMR system for gas, water and electric meters.

Kansas City Power & Light has purchased Intergraph‘s InService solution for mobile workforce management.

El Paso Electric has selected Miner & Miner‘s ArcFM solution together with ESRI‘s ArcGIS to provide a streamlined system for facility management and design for their T&D unit.

Alliances, Mergers and Acquisitions

MiniMax Corp. of Minnesota and Powel ASA of Norway have merged and formed a North American organization to provide a comprehensive, integrated software solution for utilities. The combined company, Powel-MiniMax, combines field engineering and work order automation tools with utility generation, transmission and distribution software solutions.

Thomas & Betts Corp. has purchased the assets of Southern Monopole and Utilities Co., which manufactures steel utility poles.

Subject to regulatory approval Schneider Electric will acquire Power Measurement Inc., a designer, manufacturer and provider of enterprise energy intelligent systems for energy suppliers, service providers and large energy consumers.௣à¯£

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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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