New Initiative to Explore Smarter Electric Grid for Illinois
A new public-private collaboration is exploring how smart grid technology may bring the people of Illinois more reliable electric service and a cleaner environment, while holding down costs of electric services. The Illinois Smart Grid Initiative is funded by Illinois native Bob Galvin’s Galvin Electricity Initiative and led by the Center for Neighborhood Technology.
Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert will serve as honorary co-chairs for the effort. The Smart Grid Initiative is a voluntary group of state and local government, consumer, business, environmental, and utility stakeholders that will work together to examine how Illinois consumers can benefit from comprehensive grid modernization. The initiative comes at a critical time for Illinois’ electric power industry, which faces growing peak demand, soaring fossil fuel costs and rising concerns over carbon emissions, all of which threaten to significantly increase electricity costs.
Initial organizations demonstrating interest in this initiative include consumer groups, environmental groups, business organizations and energy suppliers. A series of stakeholder meetings will be held in the coming months to engage policymakers and other influential leaders in the state in a discussion of critical grid issues, opportunities, and costs, and to develop policies to improve the power system’s performance.
“Through this initiative, Illinois has the opportunity to become a leader in advancing state policies to create an electric grid for the 21st century, and to have more reliable, efficient, secure and greener electricity,” said Bob Galvin, founder of the Galvin Electricity Initiative and retired CEO and chairman of Motorola Inc. “We are proud of this partnership of private and public stakeholders and look forward to it becoming the model for bringing quality power to states around the country.”
To reach and engage people in Illinois, a website (www.ilsmartgrid.org) will be launched soon for the initiative to provide consumers with updates about its progress, energy resources and meetings.
NERC Enforces Compliance
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has submitted the first set of violation notices in the United States to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for approval under Section 215 of the Federal Power Act.
These notices document which reliability standards were violated and the actions taken by the companies involved to assure future compliance and improve reliability. NERC reliability standards are designed to ensure the right practices are in place so the likelihood and severity of future bulk power system disturbances are substantially reduced.
This initial set of notices includes a number of violations, the majority of which are documentation-related and do not include a financial penalty. The total value of financial penalties assessed equals $255,000. These violations are already being addressed by the companies involved, who are required to take immediate corrective action in addition to any financial penalties.
The financial penalties are related to violations of NERC’s FAC-003-1 standard titled “Vegetation Management.” Proper vegetation management within transmission rights-of-way is one of NERC’s primary reliability concerns. The companies involved in the recent notices are taking steps to resolve vegetation management violations and improve bulk power system reliability.
“The most important result from these notices is that reliability is being improved across North America due to proactive efforts to prevent future system disturbances,” said Rick Sergel, NERC president and CEO. “It’s often said that the first step to fixing a problem is admitting that a problem exists, and that’s what these companies have done—they have stepped up to the plate and put the measures in place to improve grid reliability.
“Generally we are seeing a very positive response to the “˜new era’ of mandatory compliance enforcement,” continued Sergel. “In fact, more than half of the 1,400 violations reported to NERC after June 18 were self-reported, meaning that bulk power system users, owners, and operators voluntarily disclosed an issue and proposed a way to address it. This is a strong indication that the mandatory enforcement program put in place through the formation of the international Electric Reliability Organization, NERC is driving a culture of compliance, but more importantly reinforcing reliability standards, throughout the electricity industry.”
Details on violation notices can be found at: www.nerc.com/~filez/enforcement/index.html.
Brattle Group: Dynamic Pricing Can Reduce U.S. Peak Demand
The Brattle Group has determined that dynamic pricing can play a substantial role in meeting the demand response goals of various utilities, states and regional transmission organizations in the United States.
This conclusion is based on a discussion paper published by The Brattle Group that summarizes results from the latest 14 experiments with dynamic pricing around the country. Brattle’s analysis of the experiments found that, on average, customers respond to higher prices by lowering usage. The magnitude of price response depends on several factors, including the magnitude of the price increase, the presence of central air conditioning, and the availability of enabling technologies such as two-way communicating thermostats and gateway systems.
For the average customer, time-of-use rates are likely to induce a drop in peak usage of under 5 percent while critical peak pricing tariffs induce a drop of around 10 percent to 25 percent. Customers with central air conditioning are likely to display responses in the 15 percent to 20 percent range while those with enabling technologies in the 25 percent to 45 percent range.
Ahmad Faruqui, a principal of The Brattle Group, presented these findings at the recent DR-Expo in Santa Clara, Calif. According to Dr. Faruqui, “The potential impact of dynamic pricing varies regionally, from 5 percent in the West to 8 percent in the South. By the year 2030, dynamic pricing and other forms of demand response can reduce peak demand in the U.S. as a whole by 11 percent.”
The discussion paper, “The Power of Experimentation: New Evidence on Residential Demand Response,” can be found at http://www.brattle.com.
Alabama Power to Install 3M High-Capacity ACCR Conductor
Alabama Power Company plans to install 3M’s high-capacity Aluminum Conductor Composite Reinforced (ACCR) transmission conductor to upgrade a key line at its Miller Steam Plant, according to Tim Koenig, head of 3M’s High Capacity Conductor Program.
Alabama Power is a subsidiary of Southern Company, whose utilities also provide power and other services in Georgia, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle. The Miller Plant is located in Jefferson County, Ala., approximately 25 miles northwest of Birmingham.
3M ACCR can carry more than twice the current of conventional steel-core conductors of the same diameter, generally with no new tower construction or rebuilding because of its relatively light weight, low sag and high strength. Western Area Power Administration, Xcel Energy, Arizona Public Service, and Shanghai Electric Power in China are among the major utilities that have deployed the conductor to alleviate or preclude peak-demand bottlenecks in major metropolitan areas.
Alabama Power’s 1.7-mile upgrade, utilizing 3M ACCR 1033 kcmil 54/19 Curlew, will boost transmission capacity on a line that goes through and loops around the Miller Steam Plant. The upgrade is part of Alabama Power’s ongoing, multibillion-dollar environmental initiative, designed to reduce emissions from the company’s power plants, while continuing to meet growing power demand.
The population of greater Birmingham is now estimated at 1.08 million, making it the largest metropolitan area in the state. The new 230-kV line will be rated to carry up to 2,000 amps and is expected to peak at a temperature of 200 degrees Celsius.
Said Howard Samms, a senior engineer at Alabama Power, “The existing line crosses below three 500-kV lines and above one 230-kV line and is supported on five existing lattice steel structures. The 3M conductor allowed us to obtain the required capacity, while utilizing the existing structures and maintaining or improving the existing clearances to ground and other obstacles. As a result, significant savings were achieved in both time and cost by eliminating the need for the design, supply and construction of new towers.”
3M ACCR was developed with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy, which tested the conductor at its Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, and with early contributions by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE), a subsidiary of Constellation Energy, has selected Cooper Power Systems to provide a system for peak demand reduction designed for BGE’s residential customers. Cooper expects the project will represent $42 million in revenue over the period 2008-2011—and when expanded to full capacity, it will provide more than 600 megawatts of clean energy capacity by 2011.
Aclara Selected for PG&E’s 2008 Smart Meter Program
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has selected the STAR Network system from Aclara RF Systems Inc. (formerly Hexagram), a subsidiary of ESCO Technologies Inc., to provide additional electric advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) products for PG&E’s SmartMeter Program.
PG&E began evaluating Aclara’s RF electric solution in June 2007 with a 2,000-unit field trial intended to demonstrate and validate the capabilities of Aclara’s electric RF fixed network. The successful performance of this technology throughout the field trial was a significant factor in PG&E’s decision to expand the product’s deployment.
PG&E has ordered 88,000 Aclara RF electric devices to be installed in the Central Valley region of northern California, which extends from Modesto to Sacramento. These units will include a ZigBee connector as well as an interface to a connect/disconnect function integrated in the meter. PG&E has indicated it is their intent to order a significant quantity of Aclara RF electric AMI devices throughout 2008, in addition to the nearly 400,000 TWACS power-line based electric AMI devices being installed in the Bakersfield and Vacaville areas.
Colorado Springs, Cellnet+Hunt Reach Metering Project Milestone
Colorado Springs Utilities, a community-owned utility serving customers in Colorado Springs and the surrounding area, has surpassed 280,000 endpoints deployed in its electric, gas, water and wastewater advanced metering project that started in 2005. When the rollout is complete in 2010, Colorado Springs Utilities will be using the utility-owned RF mesh network to read more than 528,000 electric, gas, and water meters, maintaining its status as the largest combined, four-service advanced metering project in the United States.
Colorado Springs Utilities anticipates that, when fully deployed, the Cellnet+Hunt system will save the utility more than $6 million dollars per year in hard operating cost, not including the operational benefits the utility expects to achieve through the fixed network deployment.
“The work on this project to date has forged a hard won partnership between Colorado Springs Utilities and Cellnet+Hunt,” said Gina McCurley, Colorado Springs Utilities project manager. “As we pass the project mid-point, Colorado Springs Utilities is already gaining significant customer value from this project.”
EYE ON EUROPE:
Rank and file: SAP ranked first and Excelergy second in CIS/billing vendor name recognition in a new survey of European utilities and energy marketers. The survey results were part of a new study published by UtiliPoint International Inc.
The European study follows a North American study published by UtiliPoint last year in which billing and customer care vendors serving deregulated markets were ranked on the basis of reputation, industry focus, market share, channels partners, customer satisfaction, functionality, integration and product support.
“Escalating competition in European retail power and gas markets has changed the business model at many energy-marketing companies,” said Rudolf Das, vice president–international at Excelergy. “Retail margins are thin and profitability requires near perfect execution in the back office. This means energy providers have to acquire, service, and bill customers as inexpensively as possible without sacrificing accuracy or flexibility.”
Utility Board Considers Salary Freeze
Kissimmee Utility Authority’s board of directors discussed a staff suggestion to implement an employee salary freeze for the upcoming budget year. The move would achieve an estimated savings of $661,000.
The plan also suggested the transfer of the achieved savings to the city of Kissimmee to help preserve jobs of city employees. The Kissimmee City Commission recently approved a layoff plan for its employees.
The suggestion was discussed at length by the utility board, but no action was taken.
“As KUA prepares its budget for 2008-09, we are taking a hard look at expenses,” said Jim Welsh, KUA president and general manager. “The utility is evaluating the need for new positions and is looking to decrease spending in several areas, including utility advertising and community sponsorships.”
Founded in 1901, KUA (www.kua.com) is Florida’s sixth largest community-owned utility providing electric and telecommunication services to 170,000 residents in five Central Florida counties.
“ABB experienced a very good start in 2008 across all businesses and regions. Demand from utilities and most of our major industrial markets remained strong around the world, especially in emerging economies.”
— Michel DemarÃ©, ABB’s chief executive officer and chief financial officer, discussing the company’s first-quarter net income of $1 billion, an increase of 87 percent compared to the same quarter in 2007.
SensorTran has joined the GridWise Alliance, a leading consortium focused on transforming the nation’s electric grid. SensorTran is the first distributed temperature sensing (DTS) provider to join more than 50 companies—including Cisco, GE, IBM and SAP—with the collective objective of leveraging innovative new technologies to fulfill the smart grid vision in the U.S.
Lake Country Power Completes AMI Deployment
Lake Country Power of Grand Rapids, Minn., has successfully deployed a full two-way automated metering infrastructure (AMI) to its entire service territory covering more than 10,000 square miles in northern Minnesota.
The Cannon AMI system by Cooper Power Systems gives Lake Country the ability to read meters on demand, improve cash flow, reduce customer complaints, decrease issue resolution time, verify outages and restoration real time, and monitor substation equipment.
“We wanted a system that could be installed in all 39 of our substations, with the capability to handle more than 60,000 meter reads and remotely monitor our substation equipment,” Rick Lemonds, Lake Country Power general manager said. “Our AMI system has already made positive service impacts, by providing the right employees with the right information when requested. This provides our members with data to support answers to their questions.”
Lake Country Power has noticed time savings in solving customer issues through the ability to profile energy use and remotely read meters from the office. “In the past we would send a technician on site to check on most high-bill issues,” Lemonds said. “Now we handle many of these directly from the office, greatly reducing our time and expense to resolve these customer inquiries.”
The AMI system integrates with Lake Country Power’s existing billing and outage management software, allowing for the automatic generation of monthly billing statements and verification of outage events and restoration. Lake Country Power anticipates significant savings using the system to verify load management commands sent to its load control receivers.
“Often with projects of this size the functionality gets reduced as the project rolls out,” Lemonds said. “But with our system, the reality is living up to the vision. We now have the ability to verify load management control commands, remotely read meters, verify outages, assist with the restoration of power, and perform remote power quality monitoring at the distribution and substation levels. We had an aggressive deployment schedule and we were able to achieve the roll out on schedule. We look forward to what else our two-way network will be able to provide for in the future.”