Ventyx, Largest Electricity Provider in africa ink $7 Million Deal

Photo courtesy of Eskom.

Ventyx, an ABB company, has signed two software license agreements worth more than $7 million with South African utility Eskom.

Under the agreements, Eskom will undertake the largest implementation in Africa of Ventyx’s supervisory control and data acquisition/distribution management system (SCADA/DMS) for real-time network monitoring and control of electric power operations.

In addition, Eskom will deploy the Ventyx Equipment Reliability solution in its Koeberg nuclear power station, the only nuclear power plant in Africa, to help improve processes, equipment reliability and performance within power generation, transmission and distribution operations.

“The new contracts represent a significant expansion of Ventyx’s footprint within Eskom and further cements our leadership in Africa’s fast expanding electrical utility market,” said Johan Engelbrecht, Ventyx sales director of Africa. “With an increasingly urban population, demand for electricity in Africa is rising fast, increasing pressure on utilities to maximize the availability and efficiency of their networks.”

Eskom is among the top seven utilities in the world in generation capacity and among the top nine in sales volume. The utility generates some 95 percent of the electricity used in South Africa and some 45 percent across all Africa. It generates, transmits and distributes electricity to industrial, mining, commercial, agricultural and residential customers and redistributors.

AEP transmission joint venture starts construction of Kansas transmission project

Prairie Wind Transmission, a transmission joint venture that includes American Electric Power (AEP), MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. (through the companies’ Electric Transmission America joint venture) and Westar Energy Inc., began construction of 108 miles of new double-circuit, 345-kV transmission lines in south-central Kansas.

The $180 million Prairie Wind Transmission project will stretch from Colwich, Kan., southwest to a new substation at Medicine Lodge, Kan., and then south to Hardtner, Kan., at the Kansas-Oklahoma border. Completion is expected in late 2014.

When complete, the project will be the first high-voltage transmission line linking eastern and western Kansas and will reduce transmission congestion, improve reliability and support the growth of wind energy in the state and region.

AEP has projected $466 million in transmission capital investment in 2012 through its transmission companies and joint ventures and an 8 cents per share contribution to 2012 earnings from its transmission operations.

The Kansas Corporation Commission approved the transmission route for the Prairie Wind Transmission project in June 2011. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously approved Prairie Wind Transmission’s request for key rate components for the project in December 2008 including a 12.8 percent return on equity.


China Light and Power orders MV equipment to monitor Hong Kong partial discharge

China Light and Power (CLP) has ordered more than 100 UltraTEV Monitor systems from EA Technology to monitor partial discharge (PD) activity in 33- and 11-kV switchboards serving 2.3 million Hong Kong customers.

EA Technology, the U.K.-headquartered power engineering specialist, is supplying the medium-voltage equipment in partnership with Siemens Limited, which is providing high-voltage monitoring systems for CLP’s 400-kV and 132-kV gas-insulated switchgear assets.

The multimillion-dollar orders are part of a four-year CLP investment program to enhance system efficiency and reliability by basing asset maintenance on measurement of their actual condition.

CLP will use the UltraTEV Monitors for continuous detection, measurement and recording of internal PD activity in 113 of its 33- and 11-kV switchboards, together with changes in relative humidity and ambient temperature, which affect PD.

The monitors will automatically feed condition data about individual assets into an integrated asset management system, which will enable CLP to determine their health and risk of failure.

The results will be used to prioritize emergency interventions and plan medium- and long-term maintenance work more efficiently.

The UltraTEV Monitor won the U.K.’s top industrial honor, the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2011. The systems include sensors for measuring internal PD activity in live assets as transient earth voltage emissions, together with surface and ambient temperatures, relative humidity and atmospheric pressure, and ultrasonic emissions, which characterize surface PD.

PD in cables is measured using a radio frequency sensor. It also includes data analysis software and is fully Web-enabled with an automatic alarm to warn of critical PD activity.

Founded in 1901, CLP serves 80 percent of Hong Kong’s population with a network of more than 13,550 substations and 86,000 miles of cables. It has a world record of 99.99 percent service reliability.

Now operating in Hong Kong, Chinese mainland, Australia, India, Southeast Asia and Taiwan, the CLP Group has invested $10 billion in network development since 1998 and has earnings of 1.3 billion.

Smart grid to drive German independence from nuclear energy

Germany is moving toward a nuclear-free future, but pessimism regarding renewable energy cost and reliability implies that smart grid technologies will keep the nation’s power on, according to GlobalData.

The new research states that Germany’s plans to replace the country’s nuclear energy generation with renewables by 2022 will lead to a rise in smart grid technologies because a stronger power system is needed to support alternative generation.

Germany introduced a plan in 2011 to phase out nuclear energy gradually after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. Germany closed some eight nuclear reactors immediately, reducing the country’s nuclear generation from 133.01 Terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2010 to 102.31 TWh. In 2011, the country’s installed capacities for wind and solar technologies were 29,264.8 MW and 24,870 MW respectively, accounting for 32 percent of the energy mix. The anticipated loss of more nuclear power, however, has prompted Germany to focus on increasing its renewable energy technologies.

The intermittent nature of renewables implies that voltage and frequency fluctuations will become more common and threaten German electricity supply. Flexible alternating current transmission systems (FACTS) can provide quick active and reactive power compensation. And dynamic volt-amp reactive (D-VAR) systems are used at the grid interconnection points of wind farms to detect voltage disturbances and provide reactive power in real time.

More energy storage will be required. During windy days, surplus wind energy from northern Germany passes to neighboring countries, which experience increased grid strain from the excess power. Fuel cells, compressed-air energy storage and pumped-hydro storage and hydrogen might provide solutions for excess renewable power.

Large-scale nuclear generation led to low power prices and a strong reputation, and it will take time and extensive R&D for renewable sources to catch up. Smart grid technologies will help Germany become independent of nuclear power plants, but it will be some time before these initiatives bear fruit.

Brazilian utility updates underground distribution before major sports

Light Serviàƒ§os de Eletricidade S.A. (Light) operates one of the largest underground networks of medium- and low-voltage distribution in Latin America. Light is present in 31 counties in Rio de Janeiro, covering a region with more than 10 million people and having built a customer base in recent years of 4 million.

After prolonged outages during the last quarter of 2009 and throughout 2010, Light developed a plan that defined maintenance actions, including preventive and corrective, to its underground systems.

A new underground vault standard designed by Light. There will be 900 vaults until 2013 in all the underground system, representing some 25 percent of the total.

Light also outlined project implementations aimed at adopting technologies to update the underground electrical system. To ensure it followed global best practices, Light contracted with DNV KEMA in early 2011 to analyze the maintenance plan for its underground power distribution system. Experts from the Netherlands, U.S. and Brazil evaluated the proposed actions, followed Light’s teams in their field and office routines and added recommendations to achieve the best practices of similar companies.

Underground Maintenance Challenges

Brazil’s underground systems were installed in scale and are somewhat antiquated. Cables and equipment that were installed more than 60 years ago had to be inspected constantly to avoid unwanted outages. A complete replacement of the system was impractical economically and because some equipment had remaining life. DNV KEMA drew on experiences with cities that use similar systems, such as New York, which shared many problems with Rio.

Aligning With Best Practices

The existing distribution system in Rio required asset management improvements and left network owners and operators wondering if they would consume, extend or replace. Light consolidated its 2011 action plan by implementing part of the recommended actions because it allocated years to fully restore the system to world-class operating conditions. In addition to prioritizing construction projects, the program trained and advised maintenance teams in critical tasks for improving quality control. Remote monitoring systems beefed up network supervision.

Light used what it had learned to start building new underground substations toward the end of 2011.

Technical Overview

DNV KEMA developed recommendations with Light for improving the organization’s maintenance and safety to increase distribution network reliability. These were followed up with subsequent monthly audits on services performed in the underground network and internal processes. Workshops with electricians, technicians, supervisors, engineers and managers verified adjustments were applied properly in daily preventive maintenance routines to achieve global best practices.


Equipment failure rates and other reliability issues have decreased considerably since Light undertook the asset management and organizational measures. The primary goal is to raise the standards of the distribution underground grid (network and radial) and local work force in accordance with global best practices to improve customer service as the country gets ready to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

2012 Cybersecurity Act Spends Recess in Time-out

The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 failed to reach a final vote Aug. 2, one day before Congress’ August recess.

Just eight votes shy of the 60 needed during a procedural vote, the Senate voted 52-46 to end debate and force a final vote on the measure. Without a final vote, however, many of the bill’s supporters felt pessimistic that a compromise could be reached this year, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Introduced by Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, the bill would have established cybersecurity standards for the nation’s electric supply, financial transactions, transportation system and telecommunications system.

“The security bill is considered vital to ensuring that private U.S. businesses tasked with running the electric grid, utilities, nuclear power plants and other key pieces of critical national infrastructure are taking appropriate measure to protect their facilities against attacks from hackers, cyberspies and malware,” said Elinor Mills of CNET.

The bill contained three elements the government needs to fend off cyberattacks, said John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, to CNN. These elements include new threat information-sharing between the government and private industry, better protection of critical infrastructure such as the power grid and water filtration facilities, and authority for the Department of Homeland Security to unite federal resources to lead the government’s cybersecurity team.

“The risks to our nation are real and immediate,” Brennan told CNN.

A largely bipartisan bill supported by the Obama administration, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 continued to meet resistance from a group of Republicans led by John McCain of Arizona. McCain argued the bill would be too burdensome to corporations, according to The New York Times.

McCain later told CNN that spending time outlining the progress of the bill after the break would have been a better use of time.

“I hope that this vote does not have a chilling effect on what I think was progress being made,” he told CNN.

Despite disappointment, Lieberman told reporters he hopes to find common ground on the issue soon.

“It’s not just another political argument in a campaign,” Lieberman told reporters. “This is about what everyone acknowledges is rising to be a serious threat to America’s security in the years ahead, and that is the fact that we’re not adequately defended against cyberattacks.”

Ag Secretary: Smart Grid Loans Will Improve Service to Thousands

Tom Vilsack

Rural electric utilities in 18 states will receive loan guarantees to improve electric lines and transmission facilities, plus to reduce peak loads using smart grid technologies, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced.

Clearwater Power Co. (CWP), a rural electric utility in Lewiston, Idaho, will receive a $13.5 million loan to build and improve 132 miles of distribution line and five miles of transmission line and make other system improvements.

“Maintaining and upgrading rural electric systems improves system reliability, creates jobs and supports economic development,” Vilsack said. “With these loans, we are continuing to help cooperatives provide reliable service to rural residents. A significant portion of this funding will go to smart grid technologies, helping consumers lower their electric bills and reducing peak demand for producers.”

With this funding, USDA Rural Development moves closer to reaching Vilsack’s goal to fund more than $250 million for smart grid technologies.

The announcement includes support for nearly $29 million in smart grid projects. In all, USDA is investing more than $420 million in rural electric infrastructure.

Funding is provided by USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS). The loans help electric utilities upgrade, expand, maintain and replace rural America’s electric infrastructure.

USDA Rural Development also supports energy conservation and renewable energy projects.

President Barack Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities.

These investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way—strengthening the U.S. economy, small towns and rural communities.



Smart Grid, Geospatial Synthesis Will Drive GIS Growth

Although utility executives increasingly understand that geospatial data is critical to smart grid success, the integration of GIS tools and services with smart grid applications such as SCADA/EMS/OMS/DMS has been limited.

According to a recent Pike Research report, this will change rapidly during the next five years as GIS penetration into these smart grid applications accelerates.

Utility spending on electric utility GIS software and services will double from 2011 to 2017, growing from $1.8 billion in 2011 to $3.7 billion in 2017, the market intelligence firm forecasts.

The other factor driving the penetration of GIS tools and services in the utility sector is an increasingly mobile work force. Some 60 percent of all utility employees work in the field on assets that have spatial attributes. Until mobility recently became viable, asset changes or status updates were made on hand-drawn maps and provided to office-based GIS technicians who interpreted and entered data on a schedule that often ran months late, resulting in a GIS database that was not current and possibly inaccurate. The spread of mobile GIS tools is automating that process and ensuring that updates are made accurately, in real time.

CPUC Approves SDG&E East County Substation Project

The California Public Utilities Commission approved San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E’s) East County Substation Project.

The development involves two electric substations along SDG&E’s Southwest Powerlink transmission line that will help boost electric reliability in the region and accommodate the delivery of wind, solar and geothermal power to utility customers.

In total, the nearly $435 million venture will include a new 58-acre, 500/230/138-kV substation in Jacumba, Calif., and the reconstruction and modernization of an existing 50-year-old substation in Boulevard, Calif. The two electric substations will be interconnected by a 14-mile, 138-kV transmission line.

Construction is expected to begin later this year.

There are about 1,700 MW of renewable energy projects proposed to interconnect at the ECO and Boulevard substations. The initial build out of the ECO substation project will accommodate some 1,100 MW of fully deliverable renewable resources.

The electric infrastructure project will improve reliability in Jacumba, Boulevard, parts of the Campo and La Posta Indian Reservations, Manzanita, Bankhead Springs and Live Oak Springs.

It will create between 100 and 200 construction jobs over two years.

SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 850,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties.

The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles. SDG&E is a unit of Sempra Energy, a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.

US Smart Grid Networking Market to hit Nearly $1 Billion by 2016

IMS Research forecasts the market for equipment supporting smart grid communications and networking to grow from $700 million in 2011 to nearly $950 million by 2016.

This growth is projected even as smart meter shipments are forecast to decline from 2012 onward in North America and general economic growth remains elusive.

Smart metering projects in the mid- to late-2000s propelled North America’s market for radios and other networking hardware supporting feeder line tasks. Later growth in distribution automation intelligent electronic device shipments furthered this trend, supporting opportunity for traditional serial radios, as well as a wide assortment of next-generation solutions.

As of 2012, smart meter rollouts are slowing in North America; however, substation modernization, distribution automation and Latin America’s expected smart metering expansion will all counter this slowing to offer substantial total growth of smart grid networking equipment markets in the Americas.

The supplier environment for smart grid automation and networking is in a dynamic period, with major substation networking supplier RuggedCom recently purchased by Siemens, and smart grid mesh radio provider Tropos acquired by ABB. Both ABB and Siemens offer deep catalogues of grid automation solutions, but their market presence in the Americas has not been as high as in other regional markets.

PJM Invests $2 billion in Transmission Upgrades

The PJM Interconnection Board approved nearly $2 billion in electric transmission upgrades that will maintain reliable electric power supplies in the wake of recently announced power plant retirements. The PJM region includes 60 million people in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

Since November, generation owners in PJM have announced plans to retire nearly 14,000 MW of generation between May 2012 and the end of 2015—enough generation to produce enough power to supply Indiana’s needs for a year.

The PJM board approved more than 130 transmission upgrades related to the generation retirements. The projects range from simple equipment replacements to new substations to rebuilding existing transmission lines and building new lines.

The upgrades will allow electricity to flow safely from other sources to replace the retiring generation. May 18, PJM will announce the results of its annual capacity auction, which will procure additional power supply resources including demand response and energy efficiency.

PJM is an independent regional power grid operator. One of its major responsibilities is to identify and plan improvements to the transmission system to ensure power supplies remain reliable. The utilities that put their electric transmission systems under PJM’s control are responsible for completing the work.

On a dollar basis, more than half of the improvements are in Ohio. The proposed retirement of generators along Lake Erie will require transmission upgrades in Ohio, particularly around Cleveland.

With these upgrades, the PJM board has approved the investment of $23.4 billion in transmission additions and upgrades since 2000.

ZBB Energy Installs Energy Storage System in Chicago Microgrid Project

ZBB Energy Corp. and its construction partner City Cottage Group successfully installed and commissioned a 500-kilowatt-hour energy storage system and advanced power electronics for use in a microgrid application at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago using ZBB EnerStore advanced energy storage technology and ZBB EnerSection inverter modules.

Funded by IIT and the Department of Energy, the Perfect Power microgrid system at IIT will reduce the time and money lost to power outages and will meet IIT’s growing, specialized energy needs. In addition, it can be operated as a stand-alone power system in the case of grid contingencies.

The ZBB EnerSystem has been integrated into the ITT microgrid prototype to provide critical system backup, load-shifting, peak-load reduction, and improved integration of distributed renewables.

ZBB’s EnerStore battery modules also will be used to offset the addition of new electric vehicle charging stations by storing off-peak power for use during daytime peak-charging periods.

ZBB EnerStore flow batteries were selected for the energy storage component because they are constructed from environmentally friendly materials that provide for long service life and advanced performance when compared with traditional chemical batteries.

The IIT, in collaboration with Exelon Corp., the Galvin Electricity Initiative and other key partners, has been working to develop, demonstrate, promote and commercialize a system and supporting technologies that achieve perfect power at the main campus of IIT.

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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

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