News

Con Edison Opens Cable Research Facility in the Bronx

Con Edison engineers are studying the future of reliable electricity at the new $10 million Con Edison Cable & Splice Center for Excellence in the Bronx in conjunction with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

Computerized testing equipment unique in North America, including a “weathered” manhole where the climate can be controlled to mimic conditions under a New York street, are at the heart of the research facility. It is expected to become a national magnet for other utilities that want to test their equipment, and attract research and development engineers.

“Our facility is the charter Center for Excellence in the EPRI Cable Testing Network–the ECTN,” said Kevin Burke, president of Consolidated Edison Company of New York. “Through our collaboration with EPRI, engineers and cable experts will advance the industry’s knowledge of electric distribution system design and diagnostic techniques. Together, we will find ways to better serve our customers and meet their growing electricity needs.”

Clark Gellings, EPRI’s power delivery and markets vice president, said the ECTN should especially benefit the industry, given the attrition of expertise in mature cable technologies.

Rio Grande Electric Monitors Assets via Satellite

Rio Grande Electric Cooperative Inc. (RGEC) now uses satellite communications to monitor energy conditions across its rural distribution network. As part of its new enterprise energy management system, the Texas-based electric utility identified satellite as the most cost-effective way to communicate with energy meters being installed at remote substations. The new energy management system uses a network of ION meters and software from Power Measurement to help RGEC control the cost, quality and reliability of its power.

According to Mike Wade, RGEC’s technical services manager, the remote locations made a traditional telephone link to these meters impractical. “We realized that the high cost of running a phone line to each of these remote substations, plus the ongoing fees for using each line would not present an affordable solution,” Wade said. “Because cell phones aren’t supported in most of these locations either, a satellite link was the clear choice.”

To outfit each substation, Power Measurement worked with RGEC to pre-assemble new electrical panels, equipping each with several ION 7350 meters (one for each feeder) communicating through a single ION 7600 or ION 8500 revenue-accurate meter. The revenue meter acts as a gateway, collecting and passing data from all feeder meters over an Ethernet link to a satellite radio.


Sub-metering cabinet equipped with two ION 7350 meters communicating to a satellite radio through a single ION 7600 revenue-accurate meter.Click here to enlarge image

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RGEC installed completed panels at 12 of its most remote substations, and then equipped the main headquarters with a PC workstation running Power Measurement’s energy management software. The meters continually monitor electrical conditions at each substation, and communicate by satellite via high-speed Ethernet link to the software. With this arrangement, RGEC technicians can instantly check the status at any substation–a procedure that previously required a drive of several hours each way.

The new system provides detailed power quality information, and includes an alarm feature that instantly notifies key personnel of power outages, sags or swells. The meters also automatically record consumption as interval data logs, and distribute this information as reports, both to the cooperative’s power supplier and to ERCOT.

PLMA, IEA Announce Demand Response Project

The International Energy Agency (IEA) Implementing Agreement on Demand Side Management Technologies and Programmes (dsm.iea.org) and the U.S.-based

Peak Load Management Alliance (PLMA; www.peaklma.com) have agreed to conduct a multinational project to establish demand response as an integral part of competitive electricity markets and to develop the business models and technology infrastructure necessary for its implementation.

“Modern technology allows radically new opportunities for customers on the market to exercise their rights to a free choice and not to be victims under supply conditions with high prices,” said Hans Nilsson, chairman of the IEA Demand Side Management Executive Committee.

Nilsson explained that the IEA was originally established to oversee the strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) during the oil crisis of the 1970s. “The SPR acts as sort of a ‘shock absorber’ in oil markets,” he said.

“We now view demand response in the electricity industry in much the same way… In order for competitive electricity markets to work in the interest of the customers, we must have this sort of long-term risk management insurance.”

The PLMA will act as general contractor for the project, will coordinate the involvement of participating countries, and be responsible for delivering project outputs for implementation in the participating countries. Over the next several months, the PLMA will be developing the necessary tasks for the project, which will include an “experts workshop” to be held in the United States in September.

The IEA Demand-Side Manage-ment Programme started its collaboration in 1993, and since then 17 member countries and the European Commission have been working to promote energy efficiency and demand side management. Member countries are:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European Commission, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

PSE&G to Invest $1.4 Billion over Next 5 Years

Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) announced recently that it plans to spend about $1.4 billion in the next five years to upgrade and enhance its electric system.

The utility will focus on investing in technology designed to equip its T&D infrastructure for the 21st century.

“When PSE&G was founded in 1903, the company relied on horse-drawn wagons and mechanical equipment to bring an essentially new product–electricity–to New Jersey’s homes and businesses,” said Ralph Izzo, PSE&G’s senior vice president of utility operations. “Today, we’re investing in state-of-the-art electronics and microprocessor-based smart systems to ensure that our electric system is ready to meet customer needs and expectations for the next 100 years.”

Izzo said the $1.4 billion of investment is consistent with PSE&G’s five-year capital expenditure program. In 2003, PSE&G is nearing completion of 70 major capital improvement projects, as well as numerous system upgrades, to ensure safe, highly reliable service to its 2 million electric customers. More than $280 million will be invested in upgrading the electric infrastructure, including $58 million in system reinforcements that include new substations and circuit reinforcements and $75 million in system replacements to renew and replace facilities and equipment.

In 2003, the company completed development and installation of a $5 million system that uses data collected from multiple sources, including remote monitoring equipment and manual inspections, to flag equipment that needs attention.

Advanced technology also combines wireless and interactive systems that enable the company to immediately respond to electric system outages.

PSE&G invested $26.5 million in an integrated outage management and geographic information system designed to model the utility’s electric system, identify outages, dispatch work crews and restore service to customers in record time.

“It’s already paying dividends,” Izzo said of the new system. “Our restoration times are 10 percent better than historic values.”

One of the largest technology investments the company has made, however, has been in the design and development of a work management system that uses desktop and mobile data terminals to dispatch and track work. More than $35 million has been invested in this system that integrates several technologies into a seamless process.

Elsewhere in the electric system, new imaging technology is being used to locate weak spots on PSE&G’s 1,200 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. Traveling in helicopters, workers conduct site inspections using infrared cameras that detect damage caused by sun spots or lightning. Once the damage is detected, repairs are generally made by using live-line maintenance–a process pioneered by PSE&G. Line workers are able to make repairs to high-voltage transmission lines without taking the circuit out of service, providing increased reliability.

In the near future, PSE&G will unveil new technology designed to further improve the electric system. In conjunction with the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the company developed the first-of-its-kind prototype of three fiber optic-based microsensors that could be used to detect changes in large station transformers. The microsensor, approximately 2 mm square, is mounted on the tip of a 7-inch gun-like probe that is installed inside the transformer through an existing valve. The microsensor will continuously monitor the transformer’s vital signs and transmit warnings of potential problems.

CPS to Automate Transmission Line Inspection, Maintenance

City Public Service of San Antonio (CPS) has contracted EPRIsolutions to install the latest version of EPRI’s Transmission Inspection & Maintenance System (TIMS) software on CPS’s transmission system.

TIMS, a graphics-based, data management system for transmission line inspection, assessment, and maintenance, allows utilities to locate and record transmission line condition data.

The project will include development of an interface between

TIMS and CPS’s SAP work order management system, development and installation of an initial

TIMS database that includes all of CPS’s 138-kV and 345-kV transmission lines, installation of TIMS software on desktop and field machines for use during the demonstration project, training, and technical support.

“Currently, our inspection program consists of handwritten reports,” said Cathleen C. Ballard, transmission design supervisor at CPS. “We are really looking forward to automating and standardizing our inspections, customizing the database to our system, and then extracting a clear overall picture of the condition of our transmission system from the data we’ll accumulate.”

Itron to Acquire Schlumberger’s Electricity Metering Business

Itron announced July 16 that it has executed an agreement to acquire Schlumberger’s Electricity Metering (SEM) business for $255 million. The acquisition is expected to close in the third or fourth quarter of 2003.

“The acquisition of SEM is an attractive and complementary addition to Itron for many reasons,” said LeRoy Nosbaum, Itron’s chairman and CEO. “It significantly increases the revenues, earnings and cash flow of Itron. SEM brings to Itron approximately 1,000 new employees that have built one of the world’s leading technologies in electronic metering and a very successful metering business. This combination creates exciting opportunities for extending the value of energy data to Itron and SEM customers through greater integration of data collection, management and application.”

SEM, based in Oconee, S.C., has been serving the electricity metering industry for more than 100 years and is a leading manufacturer of meters for the North American electricity market. In North America, SEM has approximately 3,400 utility customers and an installed base of 35 million meters, representing approximately 30 percent of all meters in use.

Nosbaum commented that tech-nological innovation has had a significant impact on the electricity metering industry recently, creating demand for electronic solid state meters to replace existing electromechanical meters.

“The market for electricity meters has historically been driven by recurring replacement sales and housing starts, with annual growth of around 3 percent,” Nosbaum said. “However, increasing interest in electronic meters with integrated AMR functionality has resulted in a growth rate of more than twice that in each of the last few years.”

SEM introduced the first electronic residential meter in 1998 and has since sold over 5 million solid state residential meters.

Itron’s acquisition of Schlumberger’s Electricity Metering business is expected to close in the third or fourth quarter of 2003, as soon as Hart-Scott-Rodino approval is obtained and other customary closing conditions have been satisfied.

BGE Goes Live with Network Management System

Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) has gone live with Centricity, a network management software system from CES International that allows for rapid response during power outages and streamlines a number of critical distribution operations functions.

Using the software, BGE will be able to automate a number of day-to-day operations, reducing response time and improving the restoration time during power outages. The software integrates a number of business systems for BGE, giving operators and executives an accurate real-time view of the entire electric distribution network.

Centricity automatically takes data from incoming customer calls regarding power outages and ties it to location data from BGE’s GIS and SCADA systems, creating an integrated computer network model that provides real-time decision-making information.

Ken DeFontes, BGE’s vice president of transmission and distribution, said the new system will help the utility pinpoint where problems are on the network.

“The system allows us to better serve our customers because we can provide them with accurate information about the length of time it will take to restore power, as well as providing timely feedback on the cause of the outage and the dispatch and crew assignment information,” DeFontes said.

As part of the solution, BGE installed MyCentricity, which automatically alerts key company service personnel via network printer or e-mail to a pager, mobile phone or PDA when unplanned outages occur or when planned outages occur for service work and network upgrades.

BGE also deployed CommandCentricity, which contains Executive Dashboard, a decision support tool that provides supervisory and executive personnel distribution network status and event status information via Web browser over the corporate intranet.

PECO, Con Edison Invest Millions in Reliability

PECO Energy and Consolidated Edison Company of New York both spent millions this year to ensure power system reliability for summer 2003–and beyond.

PECO Energy in late May announced completion of the largest improvement project on Philadelphia’s Center City underground electric network in nearly 40 years.

PECO said it invested $3.8 million in new underground cable and associated circuit switchgear in the Rittenhouse Square, Fitler Square, and Old City areas, in addition to the replacement of 13 vacuum circuit breakers in the Center City network. In Center City and elsewhere throughout the city, PECO also reported it would install reclosers on 52 aerial distribution circuits to automatically activate when trouble occurs.

These projects are part of roughly $68 million allocated for capital improvements in Philadelphia this year.

PECO crews also are working on a project that entails expansion of eight power substations, including four in the city, and construction of new transmission lines along a 34-mile utility corridor. The $50 million two-year project allows connection to a new electric generating plant being built by Dominion Energy at the U.S. Steel complex.

Additional cable reliability replacements were completed at substations in the Southwark and Island Road areas of Southwest Philadelphia, as well as in portions of the Port Richmond and Fishtown sections of the city. Work also is underway on a major new substation that will provide additional power capacity for portions of Center City, Spring Garden, Kensington and Richmond. This nearly $20 million project on North Delaware Avenue is expected to be completed next year.

Con Edison, meanwhile, invested $522 million this year in upgrades to its electric delivery system for the summer.

The company said the more than a half-billion dollars in improvements would help maintain reliable service delivery to the company’s 3.1 million business and residential customers in its service area of New York City and Westchester County.

Con Edison’s upgrades and improvements include:

  • $328 million on the distribution system, including $65 million for upgrades to cables and transformers.
  • $20 million on transmission upgrades.
  • $174 million on substation installation and circuit breakers.
  • 158 miles of underground and aerial feeder cables replaced.
  • 345 thermally sensitive cable joints replaced.
  • 211 new transformers installed.
  • 20 electrical (4-kV) unit substations enhanced and upgraded.

Briefs

Contract Awards and Extensions

Comverge Inc. has signed a $40 million long-term Virtual Peaking Capacity contract to provide significant peak load reduction to PacifiCorp. The Virtual Peaking Capacity demand-side program will operate under the “Cool Keeper” brand name and initially target Utah Power’s service area.

The Incorporated Village of Freeport has elected to upgrade to enQuesta UtilitySuite, a product of Systems & Software Inc.

Consolidated Edison Company of New York has selected Verilink Corporation’s WANsuite family of WAN access devices for use in its SCADA network.

KEMA Inc. was selected by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to determine the information requirements across the Department for the SCADA/AGC system and substation automation systems. KEMA will assist in extracting information for over 20 user groups, and its services will include a user survey, processing report, architectural and functional analysis of external historical information system, and implementation of an OSIsoft PI system pilot.

Hydro Ottawa Ltd. has purchased Intergraph’s G/Electric for geofacilities management and InService for outage and mobile workforce management. Southern Company also recently purchased InService from Intergraph.

JCMB Technology Inc. has been awarded a CAN$6.6 million conversion contract from Hydro-Quebec Distribution. The project will reconcile multiple source data, convert the data into a single repository within a JCMB conversion environment, perform quality assurance, and then transfer the certified data to GE Smallworld, currently being implemented at Hydro-Quebec Distribution.

NSTAR Inc. has chosen RETX Inc.‘s ePath load management dispatcher application to support their participation in the ISO New England demand response program.

Invensys Metering Systems has been awarded a contract to supply the solid-state iCon electric meter to Northeast Utilities. The iCon meters will be provided with an integrated Itron ERT module to satisfy the AMR requirements of the utility.

Commonwealth Edison has engaged Blackwell Consulting Services to assist in reviewing the utility’s current storm restoration process and applicable emergency response procedures.

Implementation of Itron’s distribution asset optimization software has begun at Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company, pursuant to an agreement signed in February between the utility and Silicon Energy, which is now part of Itron.

Over 450 Itronix GoBook II laptop computers will be deployed through Florida Power & Light Company’s mobile workforce by the end of 2004.

Alliances, Mergers and Acquisitions

American Superconductor Corp. and Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. have agreed to license to each other North American and European patents for first-generation high temperature superconductor wires, electromagnetic coils, electromagnets and current lead devices.

Siemens Power T&D and Miner & Miner recently formed a strategic alliance to provide enterprise GIS products and system integration services.

Landis+Gyr Inc. and StatSignal Systems Inc. have formed an alliance to provide an advanced data infrastructure solution.

GoodCents Solutions has selected Cannon Technologies as its partner for the GoodCents Select program, a home energy management program that lets residential electric utility customers predetermine how their major energy-using appliances respond to electricity price changes.

On-Line Monitoring Inc. recently acquired the assets and technology of AVO M3 Inc., including the SOS Tan Delta system, the Power Factory Live Family of on-line and walk-up power factor monitors, and the UCA supervisor system.

Personnel Changes and Promotions

KEMA welcomes new consultants to its fold. Ed Khan joins as a lead consultant. Khan was a consultant with GE Power Systems, a principal consultant with ABB, a product engineer for SEL and a power systems engineer with Westinghouse. Johan Enslin is a principal consultant. Enslin comes from KEMA’s Netherlands headquarters. Andre Lux is a senior consultant, who served as a principal consultant and a senior research engineer with ABB Consulting. Richard Brown is a principal consultant. Brown was the director of technology with ABB Consulting and a senior engineer with Sverdrup Corporation. Geradus Cliteur is a lead consultant. Cliteur was the international R&D project manager for UHV switchgear with Toshiba Corporation’s High Power Laboratory in Japan.

Mark McGranaghan has been named vice president of consulting services for EPRI PEAC Corporation.

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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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