ABB Delivers Ultra-Low-Noise Transformers to New York City

ABB, a leading power and automation technology company, has developed the technology for ultra-low-noise power transformers to help electric utility Consolidated Edison (ConEd) meet the newly enforced noise regulations of New York City, considered by many to be the toughest in the world, according to the company.

The transformers are the successful result of an intensive research and development effort over a number of years by a team of ABB engineers and scientists in the United States, Sweden and Germany. Included in the team were experts in vibrations, as well as sound generation, transmission and radiation. The project also involved the development of appropriate measuring methods of ultra-low-noise levels at discrete frequency components, as well as appropriate transformer mounting. The newly developed technology has set new industry benchmarks for transformer noise emissions.

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Dr. Ramsis Girgis, ABB’s leader of the development effort, said, “This achievement is a testimony that true technology advancements can only be achieved through vision, hard work, persistence and physics.”

The noise requirements of these ConEd transformers are 20 to 25 decibels lower than is typical for this transformer size, but limits were also set on the noise level of each frequency tone when the transformers are operating at full load and over excitation.

In addition to meeting ConEd’s stringent standards for noise, ABB had to ensure that the transformers meet tight limits on weight, width and height to permit transportation in Manhattan and other areas of New York City. The transformers also must comply with technical requirements such as significant overload and extremely tight limits on the range of transformer impedance.

ABB delivered the first ultra-low-noise transformer to ConEd in 2005. This transformer had to be provided with a sound enclosure. As the ABB team developed the technology further, subsequent transformers delivered to ConEd did not need a sound enclosure and were much smaller in size and weight. Several of these transformers have been delivered to ConEd and a number of them are already in operation. Additional transformers of even lower noise levels are scheduled for delivery this year.

KEMA Report Talks Storage, Grid

KEMA, a global energy and utility industry consulting firm, released a report highlighting the benefits of energy storage technologies for system regulation in independent system operator (ISO) markets. The report, “Benefits of Fast-Response Storage Devices for System Regulation in ISO Markets,” was prepared for The AES Corp., a global energy company, to further the understanding of using storage for frequency regulation to improve electric grid system reliability, efficiency and flexibility.

As plans for deployment of renewable generation resources, especially wind and solar, gain momentum, there is recognition that these resources may increase volatility and will require an increase in regulation services. Advanced storage technologies, with the ability to provide fast-acting energy storage for regulation service, are a promising potential solution to the problem.

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“Through our modeling we reached a number of conclusions about the use of fast-response storage devices to provide regional regulations services, the desirable energy-to-power ratio of the device and the control schemes used to operate it,” said Dr. Ralph Masiello, one of KEMA’s three innovation managers. “One finding is that a fast-response storage device with an appropriate duration period (energy-to-power capacity ratio) is at least as effective as conventional generation for the supply of regulating services. In addition, there may be additional benefits such as decreasing dependence on traditional generation units and thus reducing adverse emission effects.”

KEMA used a detailed dynamic simulation of three representative ISO environments, including automatic generation control (AGC) signals and real-time markets, to explore the performance of fast-response storage devices for frequency regulation. These storage devices, such as advanced batteries and flywheels, are now being grouped into a category of devices called high-performance energy-storage systems (HPESS).

The full report is available by e-mailing KEMA’s Richard Fioravanti at

North America Utility Industry: Top 10 Predictions

By Rick Nicholson, Energy Insights

We are now experiencing an economic crisis the likes of which none of us have previously experienced. The merchant sector has been hit hard. Energy industry stocks are following the general market trend and are down a staggering 37 percent over the past 12 months. The credit crunch has slowed capital spending and has forced companies to conserve cash. Energy consumption is expected to be down on a weather-normalized basis due to the recession.

However, expectations are high for the Obama administration’s energy policies. Obama continues to stress his commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency. Given this new economic and policy environment, Energy Insights’ top 10 predictions for the North American utility industry in 2009 are as follows:

1) Energy efficiency will become the “first fuel” choice for electric utilities. We expect that utilities will increase their investments in energy efficiency and demand response programs. To support these programs, utilities will increase investments in technologies that enable these programs including intelligent grid components, smart metering, home area networks, in-home displays, smart thermostats and consumer web portals.
2) Renewable energy growth will slow in 2009 but rebound in 2010. The high cost of credit will slow near-term growth of many renewable energy markets (e.g., wind, solar, geothermal, biomass) but the fundamentals of renewable energy will ensure a rebound by 2010.
3) Utilities will place greater emphasis on distributed energy as a grid support tool. Investor funding for utility scale energy storage–especially for automotive and grid-scale applications–will markedly increase, with accelerated deployment of commercial stationary storage applications is expected to ensue.
4) Intelligent grid technology spending will reach $70 billion in 2013. Intelligent grid subsidies as part of an economic stimulus package will dramatically accelerate technology investment during 2010-2013. However, this growth will cause the industry to face critical constraints imposed by workforce availability, manufacturing capacity and project complexity.
5) Web portals will be the fastest way to enable active consumer energy management. Utilities will prioritize the deployment of customer Web portals that enable energy efficiency and demand response programs over other similar technology investments in 2009 due to lower costs and easier implementation. Web portals coupled with other technologies such as in-home displays and smart thermostats will become the norm in 2010-2013.
6) Energy trading and risk management technology spending will stall. Energy trading and risk management technology investment will be down sharply, similar to post-Enron.
7) Generators will be focused on managing and reducing carbon exposure.
8) Scarcity of clean water and availability of new technology will awaken the sleeping water market.
9) Gas utilities will be hit harder than electric utilities by the economic crisis. Gas utilities will become increasingly marginalized by electricity-focused energy policies and competition from the electric segment.
10) U.S. utility IT spending growth will decrease to 1.9 percent in 2009, down from 5.9 percent prior to the economic crisis. Utility CIOs will conserve cash by freezing or slowing down external spending until the credit markets recover–probably for 3-6 months. Longer term (1-2 years), new IT spending will be used to support energy efficiency, demand response, renewable generation, intelligent grid and carbon management initiatives.

This article was shortened from a longer piece which can be found at” target=”_new”>

Aclara Software Provides Hourly Usage Data to PPL Customers

PPL Electric Utilities in Allentown, Penn., is the first major electric utility to provide hourly usage data in a full system deployment via the Web, according to its software partner Aclara.

In addition, PPL Electric Utilities is using the hourly data to develop time-of-use rate options, which the utility plans to offer to all its customers starting in 2010. These plans provide different rates based on the cost of power throughout the day, allowing individuals to make more informed decisions about when they use electricity and how much they pay for it.

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Access to the hourly usage data and other information is available to business and residential customers through a secure account log-in on the myPPL Web site at Customers of PPL Electric Utilities sign on to their account and are presented a dashboard hosted by Aclara.

The dashboard allows customers to see all the important features of the most recent bill: bill highlights, how energy was used by electric appliance for the billing cycle, how billing cycle electricity usage compares with customers with similar home profiles, and links to find personalized ways to reduce their electric bill. Another new feature for PPL Electric Utilities’ customers using the dashboard is bill-to-date, which lets them see how much electricity they have used since their last bill and generates an estimate of their next bill.

“PPL Electric Utilities continues to find innovative ways to use the Aclara dashboard and provide its customers with benefits of the hourly data collected through its AMI deployment,” said Dave Bonnett, vice president of software product management for Aclara.

Northeast Utilities, NSTAR Pursue Quàƒ©bec Solutions

Northeast Utilities (NU) and NSTAR submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) a request for a declaratory order on a proposed transmission interconnection with the Canadian province of Quàƒ©bec.

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The filing, submitted in December, requests that the Commission approve the assignment of firm transmission rights on a new participant-funded transmission line to Hydro-Quàƒ©bec (HQ) to enable the development of a purchase power agreement. The proposal calls for HQ to deliver low-carbon hydroelectric power to New England over a new high voltage direct current (HVDC) tie line between northern New England and Quàƒ©bec.

NU, NSTAR and H.Q. Energy Services (U.S.) Inc. (HQUS), a wholly owned subsidiary of HQ, have signed a memoranda of understanding to develop this transmission project on an exclusive basis. Planning is under way with HQ subsidiary Transàƒâ€°nergie to develop the specifics of the new tie line. The proposed transmission line would connect the Des Cantons substation in Quàƒ©bec with a point to be determined in southern New Hampshire, where NU’s Public Service of New Hampshire operates. The proposed line will be designed to transmit at least 1,200 MW of power.

“New England has some of the most ambitious environmental goals in the nation. With this project, we can help the region meet its energy, environmental and economic needs. In addition, we will materially diversify New England’s generation mix,” said Charles W. Shivery, NU’s chairman, president and CEO. “We have had many discussions with policymakers and other interested stakeholders over the past year and believe there’s an opportunity to create a mutually beneficial agreement with Hydro-Quàƒ©bec . The project, as conceived, could meet nearly one-third of New England’s greenhouse gas reduction goals,” he added.

The project would help New England meet its future energy needs in a cost-effective, environmentally friendly manner, said Tom May, NSTAR’s chairman, president and CEO.

“Our goal is to build a line that would carry enough electricity to supply approximately 1 million homes with clean, low-carbon power,” he said.

Assuming a favorable ruling from FERC, the companies will negotiate terms of the power purchase agreement, as well as a joint-development agreement to build the transmission line. The U.S. portion of the line would be owned by NU and NSTAR. Because the line will be participant-funded, NU and NSTAR will not seek regional cost recovery for the line. The proposed project would be submitted to the Independent System Operator of New England (ISO-NE) for approval as appropriate in light of the unique nature of this transaction. HQ will also obtain all required authorizations and permits for its project.


Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) of California plans to deploy as many as 3.3 million GE meters equipped with SmartMeter technology to utility customers in northern and central California. Overall, PG&E plans to deploy 10.3 million SmartMeter gas and electric meters by the end of 2011 to virtually all of its customers.

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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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