Siemens Power Transmission and Distribution (PTD) has been awarded an order worth more than 700 million euros by Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa) as part of Qatar’s continuing power system expansion. The order consists of the delivery of 25 turnkey substations of the voltage levels 220 kV, 132 kV and 66 kV and 11 kV, including transformers as well as station control and protection systems. In addition, it includes the expansion of 14 existing substations and the modification of 10 more.
All in all, Siemens is delivering gas-insulated switchgear systems (GIS) with 54 switchbays for 220 kV and 200 switchbays for 132 kV/66 kV from its production plants in Berlin and Grenoble. The project is scheduled for completion by February 2009.
“For Siemens PTD, this is the largest order in the group’s history,” said Udo Niehage, Siemens PTD group president. “Furthermore this is a highly challenging project in which nearly all of our products and systems will be employed. It is also extremely demanding in terms of project management since several substations will have to be constructed in parallel within a very short time.”
Siemens is implementing the order as part of the “Qatar Power Transmission System Expansion-Phase VII” project currently running in Qatar. The substations are to be built in the cities of Doha, Ras Laffan, Maesaeed and spread all over the country.
Within a few decades, Qatar has developed into a modern state with a high standard of living matched by growing energy requirements. The peninsula on the lower Gulf, with its abundant petroleum and natural gas reserves, posts double-digit economic growth rates and invests continuously in the country’s infrastructure.
Researcher Says Competition Not Good for Consumers; Advocates Fire Back
“[D]espite much advocacy, there is no reliable and convincing evidence that consumers are better off as a result of restructuring of the U.S. electric power industry,” said Dr. John E. Kwoka, after reviewing a dozen often-cited research studies to date.
Kwoka, who is the Neal F. Finnegan distinguished professor of economics at Northeastern University in Boston, conducted the review for the American Public Power Association (APPA). He analyzed the methodologies of 12 studies, looking at their strengths and limitations. Nine of the 12 found retail price benefits or cost efficiencies from restructuring that ranged from expansive to tentative. Three reported no benefits or outright consumer costs.
“Federal and state regulators, market participants, and consumers need high quality and transparent information based on standardized methodologies that reflect real-world situations to be able to analyze and make decisions about the future direction of the electricity marketplace,” said Alan Richardson, APPA president and CEO. “Dr. Kwoka’s findings demonstrate that too little is known about the effect of past decisions to conclude that our industry is on a path that can or will produce customer savings.”
Kwoka concluded that despite differing in their findings, each study had its own specific limitations, and many shared three common and major deficiencies:
- A lack of precision about what is meant by “restructuring,” which often over-simplifies the process and mischaracterizes the data;
- Failing to look beyond initial transition effects, such as state-mandated rate reductions and freezes, stranded cost adjustments, and excess capacity, which are not a reflection of the permanent or equilibrium market price; and,
- Not controlling for other factors that affect prices, which can result in incorrectly attributing price effects to restructuring.
According to Kwoka, most of the studies paid too little or no attention to three factors that should be part of any comprehensive assessment of restructuring: market power and manipulation, rising costs of Regional Transmission Organizations, and potentially adverse effects of restructuring on service quality and reliability.
COMPETE, a coalition of 145 electricity stakeholders who support competitive electricity markets, fired back. COMPETE’s chairman, former U.S. Senator Don Nickles, issued a statement, saying, “COMPETE’s 145 members, many of whom are customers that participate in electricity markets on a regular basis, firmly believe that they get the best deals in competitive markets. Electricity markets are providing great value to consumers even during this time of high fuel costs for electric generation. When suppliers compete, the customer wins. Competitive, well-structured, and organized markets pave the way for renewable resources, demand resources, and innovative technologies that ultimately will move our nation toward greater energy independence.”
“The benefits of competitive markets have been well-documented by numerous studies. Just because APPA’s expert disagrees does not make his views right and the other studies wrong. We stand by the weight of the numerous analysts who have conducted the previous studies,” the statement concluded.
These “Currents” Run Deep
In December, the editorial team of Utility Automation & Engineering T&D and Electric Light & Power made its first foray into a new medium: podcasting. Currents: The Energy News Podcast is a new way to stay current on energy news with to-the-point news stories, exclusive interviews with the most influential people in electric power, and opinionated analysis.
For its first episode, Currents interviewed Rick Sergel, president and CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Council.
In part one of a two-part interview, Sergel discussed NERC’s new authority as the nation’s ERO, expounded on NERC’s recent reliability assessment, and revealed what utilities can expect for non-compliance to NERC standards. As Sergel put it, “We would expect penalties to be in the thousands and tens of thousands. But the authority is there to fine up to a million dollars.” Sergel also explained what NERC thinks the nation needs to do to avoid infrastructure decline and how the industry should cope with an aging work force.
In part two of the interview Sergel gave Currents his thoughts on the critical congestion areas identified by the DOE, discussed NERC’s cyber security standards, the threat cyber attacks pose to utilities, and how NERC has adopted the goal of having “zero” events like the 2003 blackout. When asked which of NERC’s reliability standards is most crucial to that goal Sergel responded, “That’s one of those questions [like], “˜Which one of your children do you like best?'” Sergel also gave us his perspective on having been a utility CEO and now being the man in charge of policing utilities.
You don’t have to have an iPod or iTunes to listen to Currents. Go to www.elp.com, click the podcast button on the homepage, and then choose the “Play Now” option. Your default media player will pop up, and you’ll be listening instantly. You can also download the podcast to your computer and listen at your leisure. Or, burn it to a CD and listen to it on your commute home.
Currents is planned as a monthly online feature. Stay tuned.
Increasing Demand Seen for Fault Current Limiters
According to American Superconductor Corp., most of the second generation (2G) high temperature superconductor (HTS) wire-known as 344 superconductors-the company is shipping this fiscal year is being used in the development of fault current limiters. Fault current limiters act as high-voltage surge protectors for power grids to increase grid reliability.
“Fault current levels are posing significant challenges in many utility grids around the country and have the potential to cause widespread brownouts and blackouts,” said Syed Ahmed, consulting engineer for Southern California Edison’s T&D business unit. “HTS fault current limiters are a unique solution that will help address and accommodate projected load growth, without endangering our grid operations.”
344 superconductors possess unique physical properties that allow them to conduct electricity with no resistance under normal operating conditions, while also being able to recognize and then instantaneously suppress large surges of electrical current by switching to the resistive state. Greg Yurek, American Superconductor’s founder and CEO said that, with its 344 superconductors, his company is beginning to capitalize on the strong demand for fault current limiters among domestic and international utilities. “In addition to our own fault current limiter product development effort with Siemens, at least seven other electrical equipment developers in four countries are now utilizing 344 superconductors to develop fault current limiters,” Yurek said.
Western Governors Urge Transmission Reform
Western Governors have urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to adopt transmission reforms that would promote more flexible use of the existing transmission system and provide greater access for generators of intermittent energy, such as wind, so they can get their product to market.
Studies show that many Western transmission paths operate at full capacity for only short, seasonal periods during the year, according to the Western Governors’ Association. The association, in a letter to FERC, said a new category of transmission service called “conditional firm” would allow generators of intermittent energy to obtain long-term guarantees to transmission lines during the off-peak periods. Guaranteed access to transmission is essential for intermittent generators to obtain financing for their projects, said the association.
The governors also support “re-dispatch” reforms to promote more efficient use of the transmission system. Depending on the minute-to-minute power flows over the transmission grid, generators in different parts of the grid can be ramped up or ramped down to increase the grid’s capacity to move more and lower-cost power. This re-dispatch of generation can lower costs to consumers, according to the association.
“We believe that conditional firm transmission service and re-dispatch are important services to fully utilize the existing transmission grid and to enable new intermittent generation resources to reach markets,” the governors said in a statement. “Greater use of the existing transmission system is a necessary complement to the concerted effort of Western Governors to expand the Western transmission system.”
PSE&G Secures National Achievement Award
PA Consulting Group recently announced the winners of its annual ReliabilityOne and ServiceOne Awards at a reception in Miami, Fla. The ReliabilityOne awards are given annually to utilities that have excelled in delivering reliable electric service to their customers, while the ServiceOne awards recognize utilities for providing exceptional service to their customers as determined by a set of 19 objective measures of excellence in customer care, identified by a panel of industry experts.
Newark, NJ-based Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) received the ReliabilityOne Award for the Mid-Atlantic Region and also took home the National Achievement award. PSE&G is a five time winner of the Mid-Atlantic Region and a two time winner of the National Achievement award. PSE&G delivers electric service to 2.1 million customers and gas service to 1.7 million customers throughout New Jersey.
Regional award winners also included:
- San Diego Gas & Electric, a Sempra Energy utility serving 3.3 million consumers in San Diego and southern Orange counties, won the ReliabilityOne Award for the West Region.
- Consolidated Edison Company of New York, which serves more than 9 million residents in the New York metro area, won the ReliabilityOne Award for the Northeast Region.
- We Energies, which serves electric, natural gas, water, and steam customers in portions of Wisconsin and Michigan, won the ReliabilityOne Award for the Midwest Region.
- Orlando Utilities Commission, a municipally owned public utility providing water and electric service to the City of Orlando and adjoining portions of Orange County, won the ReliabilityOne Award for the Southeast Region.
- Roseville Electric, based in Roseville, Calif., a suburb of Sacramento, was the recipient of the Community Utility ReliabilityOne Award. This award is given to a utility that primarily serves a single community of fewer than 250,000 customers.
All utilities operating electric delivery networks in North America are eligible for consideration for the ReliabilityOne Award. PA collects reliability data from public and private sources to determine preliminary regional winners. Once preliminary winners are chosen, each utility undergoes an on-site certification process, which provides an independent review of the policies, processes and systems used to collect, analyze and report a company’s reliability results.
PA also recognized those utilities that excel in the area of customer service and care with the presentation of the ServiceOne Awards. The 2006 ServiceOne Award winners are:
- Florida Power & Light, which serves 4.4 million customers throughout Florida.
- Progress Energy, an electric utility that serves approximately 3 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.
- NorthWestern Energy, an electricity and natural gas utility that serves customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.
The award is designed to define and reward excellent customer service through the use of 19 measures selected by PA’s industry advisory group of experts to represent all aspect of customer service. These performance measures all fall within the following key utility customer service activities: call center, billing, meter reading, field service, and credit and collections. PA uses performance data collected through the firm’s Customer Service Benchmarking Program and a review of best practices to vet all nominees.
Bayard Group Acquires Cellnet in $705M Deal
In late November, the Bayard Group announced it would acquire Cellnet for $705 million. With the acquisition, Bayard continues its growth in the automatic meter reading field, having already acquired Landis + Gyr (in 2004) and Hunt Technologies (in March 2006). Bayard also acquired Enermet Group, a Finnish advanced metering systems supplier, in May 2006.
Based in Atlanta, Ga., Cellnet was founded in 1985. The company deployed its first fixed-network AMR system in 1996 and today reads more than 11 million commercial, industrial and residential meters for customers across the United States.
Cameron O’Reilly, Bayard’s managing director said of the acquisition, “Bayard is backed by internationally respected long-term investors and we are committed to supporting the further development of Cellnet’s technology and enhancement of its excellent partner and customer relationships for the benefit of current and future customers. Cellnet technology will complement the meter and AMR technologies currently available from Bayard. Thus, we anticipate technology and manufacturing synergies from the transaction that will also benefit our partners and customers.”
Mike Zito, Cellnet’s CEO, remarked, “We look forward to being able to offer Cellnet’s leading products and services to Bayard’s growing customer base. In joining with the Bayard Group, Cellnet is positioned to continue delivering on its vision for the AMR market and on its commitments to customers and partners.”
The Cellnet technology has been the target of several acquisitions during its history, first by Schlumberger in 2000, then by Atos Origin in 2003. GTCR Golder Rauner LLC later acquired a majority stake in Cellnet in 2004.
World’s Largest Energy Storage System Completes Third Year of Operation
The world’s most powerful battery energy storage system (BESS) has completed its third year in operation at Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA). The BESS, which GVEA has had in operation since 2003, has prevented more than 734,000 customer electrical outages while responding to 163 emergency events. GVEA, located in Fairbanks, Alaska, serves 90,000 Alaskan residents spread over 2,000 square miles.
The area serviced by GVEA’s BESS is considered an “energy island”-a geographic area served by electric systems that cannot be connected to large grid networks. Because of the extremely harsh weather conditions, back-up power is essential to stabilize the local electric grid and reduce its vulnerability to blackout events, which can literally be a matter of life and death in the below-freezing Alaskan temperatures.
Several companies contributed to developing the BESS, including SAFT, the battery supplier; ABB, which provided the power conversion system; and Philadelphia Scientific, a manufacturer of industrial battery components and accessories, which provided the battery watering system, deionization system and battery monitoring system.
The batteries were designed to maintain a four-year water reserve. However, when the watering process is required, the system must be temporarily taken offline. The watering must be done quickly, and if a single cell is missed, the entire system can fail. During tests, the Philadelphia Scientific single-point watering system reliably filled each of the 13,760 battery cells in just 10 hours-six times faster than the next fastest watering system that was considered.
The monitoring system supplied by Philadelphia Scientific measures, records and reports the module voltage, string current, cell electrolyte level and cell internal temperature. Data collection and transfer are organized hierarchically with multiple devices dedicated to measuring and collecting data. Approximately 5,560 readings are taken every 30 seconds-a total of 5.8 billion readings per year. The data is analyzed and displayed through a central computer that forwards summary data to the human machine interface and is the main terminal for personnel who need to access the monitoring system.
Buckeye Power Deploys Voltage Monitors to Improve System Reliability
Columbus, Ohio’s Buckeye Power Inc. has deployed Telemetric Corp.’s TVM3 voltage monitors to detect and report delivery point outages from more than 330 points on the utility’s system. In addition, the devices will provide power quality and power reliability measurement information to Buckeye Power operations personnel. All information will be available to authorized Buckeye personnel and member cooperatives through a suite of secure web-based applications.
Buckeye Power selected the TVM3 following field-testing at 12 delivery points to evaluate results. Field-testing confirmed the system would deliver the desired information and also provided valuable lessons-learned to facilitate the full deployment plan.
The key benefits confirmed by Buckeye were:
- Automated power outage detection and reporting;
- Power quality monitoring and reporting (momentary and over/undervoltage events);
- Ability to obtain IEEE Reliability Guideline 1366-2001 information (SAIDI, MAIFI & CAIDI);
- All data viewable and downloadable via web-based applications;
- Buckeye member cooperatives are able to view the information for their delivery points;
- Delivery point event notifications can be sent via e-mail, text messages and pagers to dispatch and operations personnel as well as member co-ops;
- TVM3 is simple to setup and install; and
- All TVM3 configurations are remotely programmable.
The TVM3 units include an internal multimode cellular radio providing true two-way communication. The multimode radios operate on the digital or analog cellular and communicate in three modes:
- By exception only when events occur, such as an outage or over-voltage alarm;
- User-defined time schedules, such as reporting RMS voltage by phase every four hours; or
- Users may query the devices at anytime for current data.
Buckeye Power engineers and operations personnel will manage the TVM3 devices and view voltage information using secure web-based tools. Custom alarms and notifications can be created to notify operations personnel of outage or power quality events immediately as they happen-via web, e-mail, phone or pager. Custom views and data import/export functions allow users to create specific reports or export the data to other applications. In addition to the web-based applications, information can be sent to a SCADA system via DNP 3.0 protocol using Telemetric’s SCADA-Xchange product. Finally, a history log records all information requests, voltage data, alarms and communications between the TVM3’s and Web Server.
According to Herb Caldwell, director of load management at Buckeye Power, the solution gives Buckeye and member cooperative personnel near real-time notification of delivery point outage information anywhere they are via e-mail, pages or text messages. Caldwell said the new solution brings Buckeye’s outage notification “to the next level.”