PowerGrid International Reveals Projects of the Year

POWERGRID International editors named four winners for the magazine’s annual Projects of the Year Awards. Winners were selected in four categories: Best Energy Efficiency/Demand Response Project, Best Grid Integration of Renewables Project, Best Smart Grid Project and Best Smart Metering Project.


The winner of the Best Energy Efficiency/Demand Response Project of the Year Award is Duke Energy Corp. for its Smart Energy Now project. As part of the Envision: Charlotte initiative, Duke Energy created the new pilot program called Smart Energy Now to create energy and capacity reductions through behavioral modifications. The program targets occupants and managers of commercial buildings, providing them with detailed information on their buildings’ energy usage. This allows them to make comparisons between their energy performance and that of other buildings within the community and to take actionable steps to improve energy consumption.

The Smart Energy Now pilot consists of three components:

  • Work with community groups to set a community-wide energy efficiency goal of a 20 percent reduction in five years. This component will be combined with other traditional energy efficiency programs and customized incentives to help the community reach this overall goal.
  • Provide building managers with detailed, near real-time information on their energy consumption and provide analytic tools to allow comparisons of total energy use, energy intensity and load shapes with other comparable buildings in the community.
  • Provide building occupants with near real-time data on community energy performance. This is achieved by installing interactive kiosks in the participating buildings as well as sharing information online.
Mark Wyatt, Duke Energy’s vice president, smart grid and energy systems, accepts Energy Efficiency and Demand Response Project of the Year award from Chief Editor Teresa Hansen.

Smart Energy Now will provide relevant information to building managers and occupants giving them increased insights into their energy use. The goal is for participants to act on this knowledge by changing their behaviors, thus saving energy. These savings likely will not occur without Smart Energy Now. In addition, this pilot tests various forms of building owner and tenant engagement and education.

Smart Energy Now targets a new market never before addressed by current energy efficiency programs. Smart Energy Now is a first of its kind project because it engages the commercial office real estate market in energy efficiency and introduces new, innovative technologies. The digital signage includes dozens of interactive displays that are scorecards of success.

The program engages approximately 83,000 employees who work in Center City Charlotte to operate their buildings and use energy in a more sustainable way. Smart Energy Now energy savings are influenced through behavioral changes supported by insight into the community’s data usage and the support of the community. Duke Energy believes the community involvement will foster public-private partnerships that are paramount to its collective success. Duke Energy is capturing data from more than 150 meters in 65 buildings on a near real-time basis, aggregating and normalizing that data and working with several partners to generate community level content to update the interactive kiosks. Creating and maintaining the platform that enables near real-time updates of interactive content across 65 different buildings has not been done.

Duke’s Smart Energy Now is the backbone of Envision Charlotte, a movement to make uptown Charlotte the most sustainable urban core in the U.S.

Project Milestones

Fall 2010. Former President Bill Clinton announced the creation of Envision: Charlotte at the Clinton Global Initiative along with Duke Energy, Cisco and Charlotte Center City Partners.

Spring 2011. Smart Energy Now was approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission as a pilot program under the company’s Save-A-Watt recovery. The program began acquiring commercial building customers and installing digital metering technology to enable the near real-time collection of energy usage data. In addition, Duke Energy, in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Environmental Defense Fund, brought together more than 40 experts in the fields of energy efficiency, advanced metering infrastructure, information feedback behavior change and commercial building operations to discuss community engagement and achieving community level energy efficiency targets in commercial office space.

Early Fall 2011. An interactive kiosk was installed in each Smart Energy Now participant building. Kiosks display community aggregated energy usage information.

October 28, 2011. Duke Energy, Cisco and Verizon launched the campaign in the community to make Charlotte the most environmentally sustainable urban core in the nation. Kiosks display live energy data and provide building occupants with information about the current energy consumption, recommendations and tips for changes they can make to decrease their energy usage. At launch approximately 65 buildings in Uptown Charlotte participated in the program.

Smart Energy Now drives energy efficiency program participation extending beyond the residential customer segment. Through collaborative partnerships, creating awareness and encouraging behavioral change, Smart Energy Now brings together community leaders and public-private partnerships to reduce energy usage and positively impact the environment.


The winner of the Grid Integration of Renewables Project of the Year Award is the California Independent System Operator (ISO) Corp. for its visual approach to managing renewable energy.

The California ISO is a nonprofit public benefit corporation that manages 80 percent of the state’s power grid and wholesale electricity market. The California ISO delivers 289 million megawatt-hours annually over 25,000 circuit-miles of power lines for some 35 million Californians.

James McIntosh, California ISO’s director and executive operations advisor, accepts the Renewable Energy Grid Integration Project of the Year award while other ISO staff members look on.

California has one of the world’s most ambitious agendas for addressing climate change: to generate 33 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020. Wind and solar facilities are being developed rapidly, along with other intermittent power sources. Of a total installed capacity of some 58,000 MW of power plants, there is some 8,000 MW of green power with thousands of additional megawatts of renewable resources on the way. The California ISO wants to optimize the use of these resources to achieve the right balance between intermittent and highly variable renewable energy while ensuring electric grid stability and reliability.

California ISO operators, analyzing data from the grid, sensors, weather feeds and more in a traditional tabular format, found it increasingly challenging to spot trends and anomalies and to respond quickly to changing conditions, especially given the influx of data points necessary to track an increasing number of renewable energy sources. In addition, because the California ISO relied on independent software systems and processes across disciplines, sharing and synchronizing information often was complex and time-consuming. The organization determined it needed to more efficiently integrate, analyze and act on all its data.

The California ISO turned to Space-Time Insight as it embarked on a project to modernize its control centers and manage renewable resources more precisely. Space-Time Insight, discovered by the California ISO in 2008, pioneered an innovative, visual analytics technology called situational intelligence.

Califonria ISO’s large video wall display, pictured here, contanis layers of infomation at a glance and alerts operators and managers to potential problems.

The software, which integrates with the ISO’s existing systems and databases, federates data from sources and presents the results in intuitive visual displays. The California ISO extended its use of situational intelligence into the wholesale electricity market in 2009, deploying Space-Time Insight’s Market Intelligence application to track and visualize market pricing across 4,500 locations across California. This past year the California ISO implemented the Renewables Intelligence application, which provides dispatchers the ability to assess conditions in real time-such as how unexpected storms, cloud cover and wind speed might impact solar fields and wind farms-so they can adjust and optimize the use of renewable power and keep California on its emission-reduction trajectory. In addition, it enables the California ISO to stay within defined limits on the circuit path, which prevents damage to the power system infrastructure and helps avoid millions of dollars in potential fines. The application tracks generation sources including conventional hydroelectric, solar and wind while displaying their varying real-time outputs and external impacts.

For example, one display combines weather feeds and cloud cover data with infrared solar imagery to show the impact of clouds and weather patterns on solar generators. Another shows wind-speed contours, which allows an operator to see pockets of fast-moving air approaching the wind generation fleets.

Recently the California ISO incorporated each of the Space-Time Insight applications into a new 80-by-6.5-foot video wall that fronts a control center. The video displays focus on the speed at which power plants can be brought online, voltage stability, renewables forecasting, congestion management and grid reliability. The displays contain layers of information at a glance and quickly alert operators and managers to potential problems. While individual users have access to relevant screens at their desktops, the 10 visualization screens on the video wall deliver a big-picture view of the entire system, ensuring optimal information sharing and trend and anomaly detection.

For example, a renewables portfolio displayed on the video wall shows a rolling 24-hour view of the energy produced by the basic renewables groups. Color coding shows the usage of energy sources. A dip in solar output is visible during the night period, and the wind output reflects wind speed variances. One part of the display shows what small hydro facilities (capable of 30-MW production or less) are producing. Biomass, biogas and geothermal sources also are illustrated. By studying the 24-hour look back and comparing the weather pattern for that period with the forecast for the next 24 hours, the California ISO generation dispatchers can predict more accurately about changing patterns and adjust their set points out to the generators.

The success of these new visualization capabilities is measured by how effective the California ISO operators are, how reliable the system is and how effectively renewables are being integrated into the system.

The California ISO’s situational intelligence system makes complex data easy to understand. It allows the California ISO to build all the data sources into macro-view indicators and enables operators to dig into the details and perform analytics on the data itself. By combining external data sources with internal data, polling the grid in millisecond intervals and presenting the results in an intuitive geospatial visual display, the California ISO gets a clearer, more actionable picture of what’s happening on the grid.


The winner of the Best Smart Grid Project of the Year Award is AEP Ohio for its gridSMART Demonstration Project. The AEP Ohio gridSMART Demonstration Project incorporates a full suite of advanced grid technologies for 110,000 customers on a site selected for its concentration and diversity of distribution infrastructure and consumers. The project is organized and aligned around technology implementation, consumer and stakeholder integration, and data management and benefit assessment. Combined, these functional areas serve as the foundation to integrate commercially available products, innovative technologies and new consumer products and services within a secure, two-way communication network between the utility and consumers.

Craig Rhoades and Dan Rogier, AEP Service Corp., and Scott Osterhold, AEP Ohio, receive the Smart Grid Project of the Year award from Chief Editor Teresa Hansen

The gridSMART Demonstration Project includes a new distribution management system, integrated volt-VAR control, automated circuit reconfiguration, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), home-area network, community energy storage and renewable generation sources. These technologies are combined with two-way consumer communication and information sharing, demand response, dynamic pricing and consumer products such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and smart appliances. In addition, the project incorporates comprehensive cybersecurity capabilities, interoperability and a data assessment process that with grid-simulation capabilities will make the demonstration results a readily adaptable, integrated solution for AEP and the nation.

AEP’s gridSMART Mobile provides hands-on interactive experiences so customers can learn more about smart meters, money- and energy-saving customer incentive programs and other technologies.

The project accelerates smart grid deployments by improving grid reliability, increasing grid efficiency, lowering consumer energy consumption, reducing peak demand and significantly reducing carbon emissions and sharing lessons learned. The AEP Ohio solution is expected to reduce demand by 15 MW, reduce energy consumption by 18,000 megawatt-hours, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 16,650 tons and save consumers an estimated $5.75 million over the length of the project.

AEP Ohio is collaborating with the Department of Energy (DOE) to document an extensive list of best practices and lessons learned that can be used to improve other smart grid deployments, drive industry standards, lower the risk of implementing new technologies into existing electrical networks, and allow for rapid product improvement and commercialization while streamlining the introduction of new consumer tariffs and programs that drive consumer behavioral changes.

AEP Ohio team members include AEP Service Corp., Battelle and General Electric Co. Commercial partners include PCS Utilidata, Silver Spring Networks, S&C Electric Co., Schweitzer Electrical Laboratories (SEL), G&W Electric and Lockheed Martin. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is AEP Ohio’s federally funded research and development center partner. Key collaborators include the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, Electric Power Research Institute, Pennsylvania Jersey Maryland Power Pool, National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and the AEP Ohio Energy Efficiency/Demand Response Collaborative.

One hundred and ten thousand AMI meters are in service, and some 2,400 customers are engaged in customer programs designed to reduce energy consumption, peak-demand cost and fossil fuel emissions. These programs include energy efficiency billing options and in-home devices such as programmable communicating thermostats (PCTs), in-home displays (IHDs) and load control switches (LCS). Some 3,000 customers were engaged by the end of 2011. Thirty-nine circuits have automated circuit reconfiguration active, and a total of 70 circuits were active in 2011. Seventeen circuits (as planned) have volt-VAR control active. Initial results indicate that demand and energy consumption reductions of some 3 percent are being achieved across the 17 circuits. This represents a peak-demand reduction of 4 MW. Interoperability between volt-VAR and circuit reconfiguration has been demonstrated, as well as the interoperability between the myriad of communicating field controls being used within the project. Interoperability testing at Dolan Technology Center is ongoing with 14 HAN systems to be complete by Dec. 31. Two of the 80 planned community energy storage (CES) units are active, and 78 more units are planned. Nine distribution feeders have been modeled in gridLAB-D. Some 30 distribution feeders are planned to be modeled with NaS, PV, CES, VVC, PEV and demand response technologies with final reports by April 2013. Eighty distribution circuits had distribution supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) by the end of 2011.

Cybersecurity is being built into the communication and control schemes, and a cybersecurity operations center (CSOC) has been established with some 30 utilities, the Department of Homeland Security National Cyber Security & Communications Integration Center, and the ICS Computer Emergency Response Team interacting. The CSOC is collaboratively addressing cybersecurity threats through industry threat and information sharing.

Smart grid technology deployments are being advanced by an AEP and Battelle effort that assists AEP Ohio commercial partners to advance their product development road maps and products to market timetable. The AEP Ohio gridSMART Demonstration Project is on schedule and budget.


The winner of the Best Smart Metering Project of the Year Award is Toronto Hydro for its advanced metering project. Ontario, home to one-third of Canadians, has taken aggressive steps to foster a conservation culture. As part of this initiative, Toronto Hydro, one of the largest municipal utilities in Canada with some 700,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers, worked with partners to implement smart grid programs such as advanced metering and dynamic pricing structures.

With the introduction of TOU rates in Ontario, Toronto Hydro developed a strategy to use technology to increase its level of customer service and to educate consumers on usage patterns. Toronto Hydro has launched programs with the Elster EnergyAxis smart grid solution to encourage consumers to become more aware of their TOU rates, conserve energy, reduce consumption and generate energy. Changing energy consumption behavior isn’t easy, but leveraging advanced smart grid software and infrastructure from Elster has enabled Toronto Hydro to create a successful initiative.

More than 500,000 homes and businesses transitioned to TOU rates, and more than 100,000 customers have signed on to view their electricity usage through a customer Web portal. With visibility into usage patterns and TOU rates, customers are reducing peak electricity usage and drastically lowering electricity bills.

Recognized in 2010 as one of Canada’s greenest employers, Toronto Hydro is serious about assisting its customers in making good choices for themselves and the environment. Toronto Hydro is leveraging Elster’s EnergyAxis smart grid solution to increase the utility’s level of customer service. EnergyAxis enables Toronto Hydro to inform consumers on TOU rates and their usage patterns to help drive more energy-efficient habits. Toronto Hydro provides its customers with Web access to their hourly EnergyAxis-enabled interval data, as well as tips on how to reduce energy consumption.

By the beginning of 2011, Toronto Hydro had installed some 674,000 smart meters in homes and commercial buildings across the city, covering more than 95 percent of its accounts. Since then, some 509,000 customers transitioned to TOU rates, making Toronto Hydro the first major utility in Ontario to implement these rates on this large of a scale.

Developing the back-end smart grid support is one thing for a utility, but providing customers 24/7 online access to their energy usage brings in an entirely new and sophisticated level of customer education and outreach. Using Elster EnergyAxis, Toronto Hydro can address vital areas of its smart grid program, intervals and billing services using its smart meters. Toronto Hydro provides its customers with unprecedented visibility into their actual usage patterns, including hourly interval data and tips to reduce energy consumption in their households, businesses or elsewhere. One of the most innovative and popular services with Toronto Hydro customers is the utility’s TOU Web portal, which securely displays personalized electricity consumption current to the previous day. With this knowledge, consumers can develop the best strategies for reducing consumption and energy costs.

The screen shot pictured here shows a Toronto Hydro customer’s usage patterns. This information is aimed at changing customers’ usage habits, saving them money and trimming peak electricity usage.

This online access to energy usage information and customer support would not be possible without Elster EnergyAxis smart meters and a two-way controlled mesh communications network. The AMI enables Toronto Hydro to read hourly interval data and retrieve voltage data from all endpoints. The two-way networking can penetrate most meters, despite a dense urban environment.

The communication network uses a spread spectrum, frequency-hopping technology with self-registration to provide secure, reliable communications between meters and data collectors. This technology enables individual meters to act as repeaters, creating a dynamic communication path that optimizes the signal strength of the radio frequency and the reliability of the communication link.

Mark Munday, Elster Groups’s chief technology officer, and Edward Myszka, Elster Group’s executive vice president, accept the Advanced Metering Project of the Year award for Toronto Hydro from Chief Editor Teresa Hansen.

In addition, as EVs become an increasingly viable option for consumers, Toronto Hydro is taking steps to ensure continued smooth delivery of electricity despite an increased load on transformers and the grid. Leveraging Elster’s existing AMI network, Toronto Hydro has installed 5,000 transformer-monitoring devices in the field to measure transformer load and determine where improvements to the system are needed.

Toronto has led the province in implementing conservation programs, several which have been adopted across all 90 Ontario utilities. Toronto’s initiative and leadership in implementing smart meters and an advanced grid infrastructure to create the world’s largest smart grid program is unparalleled. EnergyAxis reads some 675,000 electricity endpoints for more than 350,000 Toronto Hydro customers. The project has been a success with continued growth and investment planned for the future.

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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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