Notes

SDG&E to Invest $7.5 Million To Inspire Drivers To Switch To EVs

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) announced it will invest $7.5 million over the next five years to develop a new education campaign to create awareness, expand electric vehicle (EV) ownership and lead the charge among large cities to electrify the transportation sector. The campaign is aims to reduce harmful air emissions, promote the use of EV charging with power from the wind and sun and establish San Diego and south Orange County as America’s EV and clean energy capital.

The education campaign will complement the $45 million pilot program recently approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to install 3,500 charging stations at 350 local businesses, multi-family communities and disadvantaged neighborhoods. This combined $52.5 million comprehensive effort is expected to increase the use of clean energy as a fuel for transportation and help consumers overcome any obstacles to EV ownership.

“California is known for new ideas and innovation, and development of life-changing technologies. Now, we are leading the U.S. in creating the leading standard for de-carbonizing electricity and advancing clean transportation,” said Jeff Martin, SDG&E’s chairman, president and CEO. “Some problems are solved by looking to the future, not the past, and this is one of them,” he said. “That is why we are reducing carbon in the transportation sector by installing charging infrastructure throughout the communities we serve, and maximizing the use of renewable energy to charge vehicles.”

Martin announced the comprehensive campaign at a news conference alongside several local mayors and city leaders.

“San Diego is a national leader in developing innovative solutions to reduce emissions and protect our environment,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “I am happy to see SDG&E working to strengthen our reputation in this field by installing thousands of new electric vehicle charging stations at apartments, condos, businesses and underserved neighborhoods throughout our great city.

“San Diegans will not only save money on their gasoline bills, it will also help San Diego achieve its climate action plan goals by cleaning up our air and reducing emission in the crucial transportation sector,” Faulconer added. “Power Your Drive demonstrates once again why the nation looks to San Diego for leadership in urban sustainability.”

SDG&E also introduced 20 multifamily communities and businesses that are committed to the growth of electric vehicles and charging stations under the company’s innovative Power Your Drive pilot program. Taken together, these developments signal a watershed moment for promoting growth in EVs.

“California is a leader in setting policy supporting the widespread deployment of electric vehicles,” said CPUC Commissioner Carla Peterman. “The SDG&E pilot program will not only make EV charging more available, which is important for driving the sale of cars, but it will test how charging can benefit the power grid and bring down electricity costs for all ratepayers.”

SDG&E’s new education campaign will include EV ride-and-drives in every geographical area of the region. These events allow customers to test drive EVs from all the major car manufacturers at one location, familiarize themselves with the many benefits of driving an EV such as tax credits and rebates of up to $10,000, low “fueling” costs and environmental protection. The campaign will also provide funding to community groups that will promote electric vehicles and other benefits. These education initiatives are intended to inspire the next wave of new drivers to switch to an electric vehicle and expand the use of EVs to all geographic and socio-economic areas.

In 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown called for having 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road in California by 2025. With the education campaign and thousands of new chargers dotting the community, SDG&E believes it’s possible to quadruple the current 20,000 EVs on San Diego’s roads by 2020, bringing the region closer to meeting its share of the state’s eventual goal.

KCP&L Executive Will Head Transmission Joint Venture

Six energy companies have joined together to launch Grid Assurance, an independent company providing transmission sparing solutions for critical electric transmission equipment.

Michael Deggendorf, Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) senior vice president, was named Grid Assurance CEO and will oversee the formation and operations of the company. At KCP&L, Deggendorf has led FERC-regulated transmission business efforts, Transource and the development of Grid Assurance.

Grid Assurance was founded by affiliates of American Electric Power, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Duke Energy, Edison International, Eversource Energy and Great Plains Energy to enhance grid resiliency and give electric transmission owners faster access to long-lead time critical equipment necessary to recover from catastrophic events that could impact the nation’s electric grid, according to a release about the formation.

Several energy companies signed a memorandum of understanding to pursue development of Grid Assurance in June 2015. The companies sought and secured regulatory assurances from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the structure and other components of Grid Assurance before officially launching the company.

“Grid Assurance is an industry-led, proactive response to the numerous potential risks facing our nation’s transmission system including severe weather and catastrophic events like earthquakes or physical and cyberattacks,” Deggendorf said.

“By maintaining a readily available supply of critical equipment necessary to restore power delivery if the transmission system is severely damaged, Grid Assurance will help protect consumers and communities from the devastating impacts that delays in restoring electricity can have on quality of life and the nation’s economy.”

Deggendorf will bring on key management team members in the coming weeks. Marketing to and accepting subscribers will begin immediately, followed by ordering critical transmission sparing equipment based on secured subscriptions. A headquarters location for Grid Assurance will be determined in the coming months.

Restoring critical elements of the transmission system can be delayed by extended lead times required to design, build and deliver some replacement equipment including large transformers, circuit breakers and other specialized components of the system. Some transformers can take up to 18 to 24 months to build and deliver.

Grid Assurance will provide a readily available inventory of equipment at warehouses in the United States and also will offer logistics support to facilitate expedited delivery of that equipment to affected sites following a qualifying event.

Subscription to inventory and services will be open to all transmission owners. Qualifying events can include physical attacks, cyberattacks, electromagnetic pulses, catastrophic events, solar storms, earthquakes and severe weather events.

“Due to the benefits of inventory pooling, diversification and improved logistics, Grid Assurance is a more cost-effective, efficient way for transmission owners to prepare for high-impact, low-frequency events that could severely damage the transmission system, and there has been considerable interest from potential subscribers,” Deggendorf said.

“It would be significantly more expensive for every transmission owning entity to independently procure and securely house the spare equipment necessary for recovery from rare, but potentially catastrophic events like earthquakes or a coordinated physical or cyberattack,” he said.

Grid Assurance services are intended to complement existing sparing programs at individual energy companies and established industry solutions. Federal agencies and policymakers have identified enhancing transmission system resiliency as a priority and critical to ensuring the viability of the nation’s electric system.

Michael Deggendorf, Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) senior vice president and Grid Assurance CEO

Southern CO. Increases DG Reach via $435M Merger With PowerSecure

Utility giant Southern Co. and smart-grid infrastructure firm PowerSecure International completed their $435 million merger, strengthening Southern’s position on the distributed generation, energy efficiency and metering fronts.

Wake Forest, North Carolina-based PowerSecure becomes a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern. The parent company’s CEO touted the acquisition as increasing Southern’s ability to advance distributed infrastructure development beyond the southeast utilities and across the U.S.

“For more than a century, the Southern Company system has provided quality service by generating and delivering affordable, reliable electricity to the customer’s meter,” Thomas A. Fanning said in a statement. “Today we are thrilled to draw on PowerSecure’s nationally recognized expertise to deliver even greater customer value by developing innovative technologies on the other side of the meter.”

Under the terms of the agreement, PowerSecure’s stockholders received $18.75 in cash in exchange for each share of PowerSecure common stock on May 9. PowerSecure’s common stock ceased trading on the New York Stock Exchange immediately prior to market open on May 9.

PowerSecure’s operations, including its management team and corporate headquarters, will continue to be based in Wake Forest.

Jones Day, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Troutman Sanders LLP served as legal counsel to Southern C. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC served as the exclusive financial advisor to PowerSecure and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter served as legal counsel to PowerSecure.

Southern Co. has more than 4.5 million customers and approximately 44,000 MW of generating capacity system wide, mainly through its southeast region utilities. The company recently acquired AGL Resources to increases its natural gas infrastructure and distribution system.

PowerSecure International provides utility and energy technologies to electric utilities and their industrial, institutional and commercial customers. The company’s energy efficiency products and services include energy efficient lighting solutions that use LED technologies to improve lighting quality, and the design, installation and maintenance of energy conservation.

Georgia Power Opens Social Media Center

Georgia Power has opened a new, state-of-the-art Social Media Center to meet the increasing demand for social media engagement and enhance customer service and communication. Housed at the company’s Atlanta headquarters, the center is an advanced social media resource located near the Georgia Power Storm Center, facilitating fast and accurate social media communication with customers during severe weather.

Credit: PRNewsFoto/Georgia Power

“Our goal every day is to make it as easy as possible for our customers to engage with us, while providing them with world-class customer service on every platform,” said Louise Scott, vice president of customer service for Georgia Power. “This new center brings all of our social media resources under one roof, with the latest technology, improving our ability to quickly collaborate, solve problems and respond to our customers day and night.”

Georgia Power already engages with customers more than 6,000 times per month on social media.

The Social Media Center’s advanced technology includes simultaneous display of multiple social media feeds; live social streaming to field reps; interactive SMART boards; wireless audio conferencing and instant sharing of desktops/tablets to multiple displays. In addition, the company uses advanced digital tools to better respond to most customer inquiries on social media within 10 minutes and online chat requests in under a minute.

Georgia Power’s primary social media platforms are Twitter (@GeorgiaPower) and Facebook (facebook.com/georgiapower). The new center builds on the company’s full suite of communication platforms, including: OnGeorgia.org, GeorgiaPower.com and telephone options.

Credit: PRNewsFoto/Georgia Power

The Georgia Power Social Media Center is fully staffed Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and around the clock during severe weather. In addition to connecting with the company on social media, customers can log in to their GeorgiaPower.com account or by telephone.

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Co., one of the nation’s largest generators of electricity. It serves 2.5 million customers in all but four of Georgia’s 159 counties.

DIstribuTech Survey: Nearly half of Utility Executives Believe Smart Home Will Revolutionize Utility Industry

Antenna, a public relations agency focused on energy and smart technology companies, in late May announced new survey results based on the opinions of 104 utility industry executives who attended DistribuTECH 2016 in Orlando in early February. The survey found that nearly half of these executives believe the smart home will revolutionize the utility industry. This surging optimism for the smart home represents a departure from the industry’s traditional skepticism of new technologies, while also putting the utility industry at odds with a more cautious view of the smart home currently held by consumers.

Survey results revealed that:

  • Just 22 percent of utility industry executives believe the utility death spiral will come to fruition in the next 30 years. The utility death spiral is the concept that more solar customers will scale the industry and drive down costs, which in turn will incentivize more consumers to leave their utility for solar.
  • More than 65 percent of utility industry executives felt that their organization communicated well with customers.

Despite the utility industry’s optimistic self-assessment, research from the American Customer Satisfaction Index found that utility residential customer satisfaction dropped 3.2 percent in 2015. Moreover, hurdles to installing smart home technologies remain significant. A recent Support.com consumer study found that 67 percent of potential purchasers say the cost to buy, install and maintain a smart home system is the top obstacle to buying smart home devices or systems. The Support.com survey also reports that 43 percent of potential smart home device buyers are concerned with the complexity of installing and configuring smart home systems.

“Antenna’s research confirms that many in the utility industry now believe in the transformative power of the smart home to remake the grid for the better,” said Matt Stewart, Antenna’s vice president. “However, there’s a clear disconnect between utility visions of roses and rainbows and their customers’ more frustrating early-adopter experiences. Antenna is honored to work with dozens of innovative companies across energy and smart technology to help bridge this critical gap and move the energy.”

Antenna conducted the survey with 104 utility industry executives attending DistribuTECH 2016, the largest annual power delivery conference and exposition in North America covering electricity delivery from end-to-end. POWERGRID International is DistribuTECH’s official publication.

Antenna is a public relations agency focused on energy, technology and life sciences. By harnessing the power of traditional and digital media platforms, Antenna helps innovative companies achieve breakout velocity. Comprehensive capabilities range from strategic messaging and media relations to content development and social media.

MISO, PJM, ERCOT: Power Ample to Meet Summer Demand

Three of the nation’s major Regional Transmission Organizations (RTO) have anticipated that the power grid is up to the challenges of summer.

Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) projects adequate reserves to meet 2016 summer peak demand. MISO expects summer demand to peak at 125,900 mW and 148,800 MW of capacity will be available to meet demand. This 18.2 percent reserve margin is slightly above MISO’s reserve margin requirement of 15.2 percent.

Generation retirements across the MISO footprint are driving a tightening of available generation across the region. These tight operating conditions, coupled with hotter weather, increase the likelihood of needing to rely on emergency operating procedures to gain access to additional resources to ensure reliability.

“MISO and its members have worked hard to ensure reliability this coming summer,” said Todd Ramey, vice president of system operations. “While we are predicting adequate resources, generation retirements across the region create a new operating reality. MISO will continue to work with stakeholders to make sure MISO is well-positioned for the future.”

MISO oversees transmission through the Midwest and includes parts of Canada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Arkansas and Louisiana.

PJM Interconnection, operator of the nation’s largest electric grid in the eastern U.S., is ready to meet the expected power demand of 61 million consumers this summer. Electricity demand is forecasted to reach 152,131 MW at its peak.

PJM has 183,912 MW of installed generating capacity available to use. More than 8,700 MW of demand response is also available, which represents load that can be interrupted in case of a system emergency.

“Summer tests the system as people try to keep cool in hot and humid weather,” said Michael Bryson, vice president, operations. “With continued transmission enhancements, reinforced capacity commitments and slowing forecasted load growth, we’re prepared to meet the region’s needs.”

PJM Interconnection, founded in 1927, ensures the reliability of the high-voltage electric power system serving 61 million people in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. PJM coordinates and directs the operation of the region’s transmission grid, which includes 72,075 miles of transmission lines.

The Electrical Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the regional transmission overseer for the electric grid and competitive electric market for most of Texas, released seasonal and 10-year outlooks that anticipate adequate generation capacity for upcoming electricity demands.

“We expect to have enough generation available to serve consumer needs this summer, based on the current forecast,” said Warren Lasher, director of system planning. “However, hotter-than-normal weather combined with low-wind conditions or high generation outage rates could cause operating reserves to drop below target levels, making it necessary to take additional actions to maintain grid reliability.”

The summer demand scenario reports 78,434 MW of total generation capacity to serve projected peak demand of 70,588 MW. This includes 680 MW of new natural gas-fired generation resources that are expected to begin operating by summer peak, 410 MW of new planned wind generation capacity (counted at 12 percent based on historical peak performance in non-coastal regions), and another 7 MW of planned grid-level solar generation capacity (counted at 80 percent during peak based on historical performance of existing resources).

ERCOT manages electric power flow to nearly 24 million Texas customers, representing about 90 percent of the state’s electric load. As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on a grid that connects more than 43,000 miles of transmission lines and 550 generation units.

EYE ON the world

National Grid and RES Launch GB’s First Sub-second Frequency Response Service

National Grid and Renewable Energy Systems (RES) are working on the first battery energy storage systems to provide a dynamic frequency response service in sub-second timescales in Great Britain.

The parties signed a four year contract that will see RES provide 20 MW of frequency response from battery storage. This is a new service that will aid National Grid in performing its system balancing role, which increasingly requires innovation and the use of new technologies. The services delivered by RES’s battery storage systems will provide frequency response to the grid within 1 second of the detection of a frequency deviation. The battery storage systems will be fully operational within 18 months.

RES and National Grid have been working together to design this service since 2014. The work was a forerunner to National Grid’s upcoming tender for 200 MW of enhanced frequency response.

As the price of battery energy storage has fallen in line with gigawatt scale deployment in the stationary energy storage and electric vehicle fields, such services are now reducing electricity costs for consumers across global markets. RES has already commissioned six similar projects in North America.

“This is the first time that battery storage will be used to provide such fast-acting frequency response service to the National Transmission Network in Great Britain,” said Adam Sims, senior account manager at National Grid.

“This innovative technology will enable us to respond to frequency issues in under a second, helping to maintain the integrity of the grid. This service and the forthcoming enhanced frequency response service will support the network as we transition to a generation mix with greater levels of low cost renewable energy.”

“We’re delighted to be working with National Grid on this contract,” said John Prendergast, energy storage manager at RES. “RES has previously pioneered the delivery of very fast frequency services in Canada and is one of the largest providers of such services in the USA. Now, developing this innovative service with National Grid is a major step in the development of RES’ UK energy storage business.

“Energy storage can play a large role in supporting the UK’s transition to a secure, low carbon, low cost energy system. We believe that this contract will play an important role in demonstrating this and will encourage policy makers and regulators to accelerate the removal of barriers to wider deployment of energy storage in the UK,” Prendergast said.

Nordics, Dutch Lead Regulatory Rush Toward Grid Modernization

European countries – led by Nordic countries and also Italy and the Netherlands – are at the top of a new index ranking regulatory frameworks that enable power grid modernization. Countries were scored based on ten indicators including smart meter targets, pilot projects, financing mechanisms, distributed generation incentives and other policy measures that encourage grid modernization.

Other OECD countries such as New Zealand, South Korea and Canada joined the European countries among the leaders, according to a new study published by Northeast Group.

“Globally, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries are by and large the leaders for their smart grid regulatory frameworks,” said Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group. “But there are also non-OECD countries that have progressive regulations in place, including Romania, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. At the same time, surprisingly some developed countries are lagging behind. For example, Germany and Belgium have yet to agree to meet European Union smart meter targets.”

Regulations have been critical for driving smart grid infrastructure investment across the world. In the European Union, regulations such as the mandate for 80 percent smart meter penetration by 2020, are laying the groundwork for major grid modernizations.

Northeast Group’s study also includes indicators highlighting the benefits of smart grid investment in each country. These include demand response benefits and non-technical loss reduction benefits. For example, wealthy OECD countries are notable for their high electricity demand rates and can therefore achieve significant benefits through demand response programs enabled by smart grid infrastructure.

In addition, lower income countries can still benefit by using smart meters to reduce high non-technical loss rates. In some low-income countries, such as Nigeria, smart grid deployments are still progressing for this reason even without well-developed regulations. Northeast Group analyzed these leading drivers for all 52 countries.

 

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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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