By Rod Walton, Senior Editor
Florida Utility Honored as PA Consulting’s ReliabilityOne Excellence Winner for Second Straight Year
For the second year in a row, Florida Power & Light (FPL) captured PA Consulting’s ReliabilityOne Award for the highest graded level of excellence among the nation’s utilities. FPL was honored at the 16th annual ReliabilityOne Awards ceremony held in November in San Diego. The utility also won last year’s top prize during an event in Miami.
“FPL has dramatically raised the bar for customer reliability from overhead and non-networked underground distribution systems,” the award announcement read. “Their approach combines both a commitment to the fundamentals-such as their $2 billion storm hardening investment-and the drive to push the envelope through technology, including automated outage identification, impending outage alerts, sophisticated network protection and control algorithms designed to minimize the customer impact of outages.”
Other utilities honored as Regional ReliabilityOne Awards recipients included:
Northeast-Consolidated Edison Co. of New York; Mid-Atlantic-Public Service Electric & Gas (New Jersey); South-FPL; West-San Diego Gas & Electric; Midwest-We Energies (Wisconsin); and Plains-Xcel Energy (Minnesota).
Midsize utilities honored for outstanding reliability performance were Indianapolis Power & Light; Public Service Co. of New Mexico and the United Illuminating Co. (Connecticut).
We Energies, which serves parts of Wisconsin and Michigan, was further honored for outstanding customer reliability experience, while FPL and ConEdison of New York were lauded for outstanding technology and innovation and system-wide reliability, respectively.
PA Consulting acknowledged that utilities are facing tough times driven by technological upheaval, customer demand and regulatory intervention. Top performing utilities deal with these challenges and find opportunities to improve while keeping grid reliability at the forefront, the consulting firm pointed out.
“The customer reliability experience is key to moving utilities forward, (and) it must be at the center of all that we do, from planning and prevention to restoration and communications,” said Derek HasBrouck, PA Consulting Group’s ReliabilityOne program director, in a statement. “The leading utilities are moving away from dependency on the customer to report failure to an era in which we can now see and act on signatures of impending future customer failures-a paradigm shift is happening now that will lead us to what the next generation utility will look like going forward.”
PA Consulting’s certification and analysis of utilities in the ReliabilityOne program also found that companies are getting better at major storm preparedness. Forecasting and mobilization are improving, while communication issues such as estimated time of restoration are playing bigger roles.
The analysis found that, regionally speaking, the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Mountain areas had stronger reliability performance. Performance dropped in the Plains, West and South due to increases in outage frequency and duration.
Florida, however, was the exception to that rule with the best performance in the South, according to PA Consulting.
The Mid-Atlantic region showed the greatest performance lift with the average SAIDI (system average interruption duration index) falling 21 percent. New Jersey helped that score with one of the best reliability performances in the nation, according to the release.
Florida Power & Light storm hardening work
Courtesy of Florida Power & Light
Energy Association Implores Trump Transition Team to Spur Grid Modernization
Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), a national business association, sent a memo to the transition team for President-Elect Trump outlining ways to usher in a new era of secure, clean and affordable energy. As the new Administration prepares to take office, AEE provided recommendations to spur private investment, support job creation, improve grid reliability and drive down costs for consumers.
“Our energy system is going through a transformational change in response to new technologies, new consumer preferences and new challenges,” said Graham Richard, CEO of AEE. “Advanced energy can deliver greater reliability, savings in energy costs and a cleaner energy system for the 21st century. The advanced energy industry can contribute to the many urgent needs facing our country, and we look forward to working with President Trump to deliver an advanced energy future for the nation.”
In its memo, AEE presented three key themes for the transition team to consider:
“- Modernize the electric power system as part of rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. While spending on transmission and distribution is increasing, grid reliability is declining, just as new capabilities are needed. The Administration should target energy infrastructure investment to increase reliability at lowest cost to consumers. Investment opportunities include, but are not limited to: strategic transmission assets that bring advanced energy generated in remote areas to population centers that need it; non-transmission alternatives that solve electricity delivery problems at lower cost; infrastructure that supports vehicle electrification, which will reduce the country’s oil dependence; smart meters and advanced grid software that collect and share data to enhance reliability/resiliency.
“- Transform utility business models to speed up power system progress. For investor-owned utilities and public power authorities to become full partners in creating an advanced energy future, rather than reluctant implementers of policies that conflict with their financial interests, the utility business model-and the regulatory structure that governs it-needs to change. The Administration should take action to help make that happen, at both federal and state levels.
“- Allow all technologies to compete in order to achieve objectives. Advanced energy technologies and services solve many problems. They reduce air pollution, increase grid resiliency and reliability, improve the efficiency and reduce the emissions of transportation and more. But regulations need to be modernized to allow new technologies and services to compete, to allow all technologies to qualify as solutions where they are effective and to allow companies the option of purchasing advanced energy where and when they want it.
AEE also submitted specific policy recommendations for nine federal agencies, including the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
AEE is a national association of businesses active in 26 states across the country, representing more than 1,000 companies and organizations in the advanced energy industry.
MidAmerican Completes 345-kV Iowa line as part of MVP Projects
By Corina Rivera Linares, Chief Analyst, TransmissionHub
|Courtesy of MidAmerican Energy|
MidAmerican Energy said recently that construction is complete on the new 345-kV transmission line in Franklin, Butler and Black Hawk counties in Iowa, known as Multi-Value Project (MVP) 4.
The line spans 71 miles in northeast Iowa from Hampton to a location just east of Waterloo, the company said, adding that it also expanded a substation in Black Hawk County and upgraded the existing transmission lines along the same route.
Construction crews replaced two- and three-pole wood structures with single-pole steel structures, meaning fewer poles per mile, less need for maintenance and more land available for farming, the company said.
While the project is substantially complete, residents in Franklin, Butler and Black Hawk counties will still see crews in the area to remove materials, clean up and restore land affected by construction, the company said.
MidAmerican Energy said that it is assisting with the construction of four of the 17 MVPs included in the Midcontinent ISO (MISO) Transmission Expansion Plan.
As noted in a brochure, the MISO board of directors in December 2011 approved the organization’s Transmission Expansion Plan 2011, which is a comprehensive, long-term regional plan for the electric grid that will bring more than $2 billion in annual benefits to energy consumers throughout the Midwest.
The company said in its statement that other projects that it is working on include:
“- MVP 3, which is a 121-mile, 345-kV line through Clay, Humboldt, Kossuth, O’Brien, Palo Alto and Webster counties in Iowa
“- MVP 7, which is a 27-mile, 345-kV line through Appanoose, Davis and Wapello counties in Iowa
“- MVP 16, which is a 33-mile, 345-kV line through Henry, Knox, Mercer and Rock Island counties in Illinois
Construction of MVP 3 is expected to have been completed in December, while MVP 16 and MVP 7 are scheduled for completion by mid-2017 and mid-2018, respectively, the company said.
Valmont, Power Engineers Team up for TD on Transmission Posts
Three partners on an Ohio transmission project worked together on a grid-iron idea.
Valmont Utility, AEP Transmission and Power Engineers added a decorative, yet functional touch to the transmission structures on either side of the interstate in Canton, Ohio. It honors the city’s historical football ties while also serving a purpose.
|Courtesy of Valmont|
The two yellow, 80-foot-tall goal posts are hard to miss and now remind drivers that Canton is home to the National Football League’s Pro Football Hall of Fame. These goal posts aren’t just decorative; they have a purpose. They serve as transmission structures that supply power to the people who visit and live in the city.
On one side of Interstate 77 lies Canton’s Stadium Park and Mercy Medical Center and on the other side, the Hall of Fame. The original intent was to connect a power line across the interstate to power much of the city, including a $500 million Hall of Fame expansion.
During the process, however, the team began discussing ideas that would pay tribute to the location and give prominence to the area. It was at that point that Marty Kopplin, Valmont Utility’s senior professional engineer, suggested making the transmission structures look like modern-day NFL goal posts.
“At first we thought it would be impossible,” said Shannon Eggert, Valmont Utility’s director of product management, “but pretty soon everyone on the team was putting their heads together to figure out how we could actually pull it off.”
Within Valmont, the core team of drafters, engineers, marketers and account managers worked together to construct the project design. Then, they used the resources available through other Valmont divisions to manufacture the structures.
According to Joe Ulrich, Valmont Utility’s strategic account manager, the project took 19 weeks from conception to completion.
“It was a collaborative effort between AEP, Power, Valmont Utility and the many other divisions of Valmont,” Ulrich said. “We’ve never been faced with many of these parameters before. There were some big hurdles, but we delivered in less time than usual, making this an exciting project to see uprights as transmission structures.”
Entergy Selects Honeywell As Major PART OF $250M AMI Project
Honeywell announced an advanced meter project with Entergy Services Inc. valued at up to $250 million for the utility operating companies’ customers across Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
|Elster owned by Honeywell|
Entergy’s entire project, which is subject to regulatory and other approvals, would include the installation of up to 2.9 million integrated advanced meters to facilitate better data-sharing between the Entergy operating companies and their customers for more reliable electricity delivery and improved energy management. Honeywell will provide up to 2.3 million of the advanced meters, building on Honeywell’s past advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) work with Entergy.
The new, integrated advanced meters will help gather and provide the Entergy operating companies with usage data to enable more efficient operations and better customer service while giving customers more energy management capabilities. The meters can facilitate automated meter reading, which is expected to drive operational efficiencies, and help the Entergy operating companies more quickly and accurately detect and resolve customer outages.
“Honeywell’s advanced meter project with Entergy is the latest example of how keeping the lights on for customers doesn’t have to be complicated-or costly-if the right technology is in place,” said Rob Tupker, Honeywell Smart Energy’s president.
Pre-deployment planning and design are underway. Honeywell anticipates that the advanced meter deployment will begin in 2019 and will be completed across the Entergy operating companies’ service areas by the end of 2021.
Honeywell provides smart grid and energy management products focused on energy efficiency, operational improvements and cost savings for utilities and customers. Last year, Honeywell acquired German-based metering firm Elster in a $5.1 billion acquisition.
EYE ON the world
White Paper: Utilities Should Support Community Energy
OMNETRIC Group has found that across Europe and the U.S., communities have a growing appetite and competence for managing their own energy distribution, in a trend coined “Community Energy.” Details were presented in a new research white paper released on Nov. 17. OMNETRIC Group urges utilities to respond to community energy leaders’ interests in the trend and apply reciprocal effort to help the community energy economy prosper.
OMNETRIC Group’s “Power to the People” white paper is the result of research and 18 qualitative interviews conducted over six months with leading community and utility executives with authority in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K. and the U.S.
Commissioned as part of OMNETRIC Group’s push to uncover trends related to the new energy economy, the white paper explores the key factors promoting and inhibiting community energy initiatives. For the purpose of the white paper, community energy initiatives are defined as projects focused on mobilizing communities around the generation and distribution of energy.
A key finding of the white paper was that community energy initiatives are driven by the potential economic benefits, followed by the desire to achieve sustainability targets.
Simulations run by OMNETRIC Group indicate that community energy initiatives have the potential to deliver considerable cost savings for the end customer, above and beyond their more recognized social and sustainability benefits. The company projects that a single household could make a one-off per capita saving of nearly $4,000 compared to going it alone, as well as hedge against future electricity price increases reaching upwards of 3 percent per year.
The research also revealed that today, however, communities lack the in-depth technology and business knowledge they believe are necessary for their energy programs to be truly successful. Citing the absence of available vendors with appropriate expertise as a key issue, communities are increasingly seeking out partnerships with energy sector professionals and utilities to grow their own, collective knowledge.
The white paper shows that utilities have traditionally had limited involvement with community energy initiatives as a result of regulatory barriers or fears relating to core business erosion. To encourage support of community energy initiatives, the white paper proposes a role for utilities as the community energy platform provider. Acting as a market marker, utilities can develop and package a suite of solutions for communities designed to enable communities’ active participation in energy distribution, according to the white paper.
“The falling cost of solar PV and the spread of energy storage is fostering a shift in customer mindset and creating an appetite to consume and generate community energy,” said Maikel van Verseveld, OMNITRIC Group’s CEO. “Now is the time for community energy leaders, utilities and regulators to come together and work toward a future that is smarter, stronger, greener and more diverse”.
OMNETRIC Group is a joint venture between Siemens AG and Accenture. It is dedicated to the global delivery of integrated information technology and operational technology solutions and services, helping utility companies achieve greater grid reliability and efficiency. A full copy of the white paper is available at: http://omnetricgroup.com/modules/frontend/downloads/1610_BR_Power_to_the_People_v12.pdf.
Silver Spring, Singapore Power Partner on Smart Grid Expansion
Silver Spring is partnering with Singapore Power to expand the latter’s uses and applications of its existing wireless mesh network platform across Singapore. Singapore Power, which provides electricity to 1.4 million homes and businesses on the island, plans to leverage its AMI deployment to connect an additional 200,000 electric residential customers.
Silver Spring’s IPv6 platform will be extended to help Singapore Power improve its operational efficiencies and serve more advanced metering customers. In addition, it will allow the utility to develop a digital data and Internet of Things (IoT) platform. The joint efforts will support Singapore’s “Smart Nation” goal by leveraging the IoT to improve efficiency, security, economic development and quality of life for its citizens.
“Singapore Power is known as an industry leader globally, and their broad vision to leverage the value creation of IoT is transforming the definition of a modern utility,” said Mike Bell, Silver Spring Networks’ president and CEO. “Our continued efforts can help move the country’s Smart Nation vision to reality through proven and secure nationwide coverage that has no limits on scalability.”
Since April 2014, Silver Spring has helped Singapore Power deliver deregulated energy services for the Energy Market Authority’s retail contestability program in Singapore. Silver Spring has deployed its IPv6 platform throughout the country to enable customers to choose from a variety of retail energy providers and purchase electricity at wholesale market prices.
“Singapore Power’s mission is to deliver reliable and cost-effective energy services to improve quality of life for Singapore. With rapid change and evolving customer needs, we must be innovative in creating secure, sustainable solutions to help our customers save energy and cost,” said Samuel Tan, Singapore Power’s chief digital officer.