Southeast U.S. Utilities Respond Vigorously to Hurricane Matthew Damage
Numerous utilities in the U.S. Atlantic seaboard worked feverishly to fix their part of the grid after Hurricane Matthew roared through in early October. Some reported achieving reconnection at an unprecedented pace considering the damage done by the storm that killed more than 20 people in the U.S. and nearly a thousand elsewhere.
Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) restored service to all customers affected by Matthew. FPL restored more than 1 million customer interruptions less than 48 hours after the storm exited its service territory in the second weekend of October.
“We understand the frustration that comes from being without power and sincerely thank our customers for their patience and understanding,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “Unfortunately, significant damage and massive tree devastation required us to not just restore service, but rebuild electric infrastructure from the ground up. That said, the kind words from many of our customers in the field and on social media were a source of strength and encouragement for our crews as they worked around the clock.”
FPL’s workforce numbered 15,000, including its own employees along with workers from contracting companies and partner utilities across the country.
“We are grateful to our partner utilities and contractors who answered the call and helped us restore service,” Silagy said. “We also want to thank Gov. Rick Scott, as well as state and local officials, for their leadership during what will arguably go down as one of the of the worst storms to impact Florida in recent memory.”
Georgia Power restored power to more than 338,000 customers impacted by Hurricane Matthew-more than 99 percent of all customers impacted by the storm-within a week of the storm, the Southern Co.-owned utility reported. About 5,000 personnel from Georgia Power, as well as assisting utilities from other states, were mobilized as part of the company’s restoration efforts for Hurricane Matthew and restored power for many customers earlier than expected. Georgia Power estimates that damage from Hurricane Matthew included:
“- About 1,000 power poles broken or damaged,
“- nearly 120 miles of wire (3,000 spans) needing to be replaced, and
“- more than 3,500 fallen trees causing damage to electrical equipment.
Duke Energy crews, meanwhile, shaved the number of customer outages from roughly 1.4 million to fewer than 60,000 in only a few days-a company record pace for restorations in similar storms.
The Charlotte, North Carolina-based utility dealt with complications from extreme flooding in the Carolinas. Those areas included: Clinton, Goldsboro, Kinston and Lumberton in North Carolina; and Florence, Hartsville and Marion in South Carolina.
At its peak, 680,000 Duke Energy customers were without power Sunday morning, Oct. 9.
Dominion Virginia Power crews also made steady progress in the initial wake of Matthew, restoring power to more than 70 percent of 462,000 impacted customers within two days of work.
Most of those impacted lived in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, where historic rainfall, high winds and saturated ground combined to cause extensive damage to roads, bridges and electrical infrastructure. Damage included broken poles, cross arms and downed wire in many locations. Extremely hazardous flooding conditions and high winds over the weekend made it too dangerous to use bucket trucks and hampered workers’ ability to initially make repairs at hard-hit locations.
More than 430 critical services were affected by the storm, Dominion reported. The utility had more than 2,800 people working to restore power during the height of the effort.
Transmission Investment Strong Yet Signs Point to Slowdown
By Corina Rivera Linares, TransmissionHub
Investment in electric transmission is staying strong overall, but there are some signs that it is slowing down, Kent Knutson, director of Hub Services at PennWell, said during the fall TransmissionHub Quarterly Market Update.
TransmissionHub is tracking $133.4 billion in projects in the U.S. and Canada-representing 36,744 miles-that are planned and under construction. That figure is down from $135.8 billion that was forecast in TransmissionHub’s 2Q16 outlook, Knutson said. Nearly $23 billion of those projects being tracked are under construction.
The average investment from 2016 to 2020 is forecast at $19.7 billion per year, Knutson added.
In 2018 and beyond, the forecast stays robust, but it includes a number of projects that Knutson referred to as “early development or merchant-driven, where financing is needed.”
The question is whether those projects will be suspended or pushed out further, he said.
The tracking includes $46.9 billion in high voltage direct current (HVDC) projects, as well as $18.2 billion in underground and underwater projects.
TransmissionHub is forecasting electric transmission investment in 2016 to be $10.4 billion, which is down from its forecast of $10.6 billion reported in June. The site also is forecasting $9.1 billion in transmission investment in 2017 and $31 billion in 2018.
Of the 126 projects expected to come online in 2016, 21 cost more than $100 million. Another 25 and 61 projects will cross that $100 million threshold in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Forty-five projects are expected to cost more than that in 2019.
Knutson’s presentation also listed projects that are scheduled to come online in 2016, including:
“- Southern California Edison’s approximately $1.7 billion, 250-mile, 500-kV Tehachapi Segments 4-11 in California
“- Public Service Electric and Gas’ approximately $975 million, 50-mile, 230-kV underground/aboveground Northeast Grid Reliability Transmission Project in New Jersey
“- Xcel Energy’s approximately $500 million, 153-mile, 345×2-kV Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse project in Minnesota and Wisconsin
“- Transource Energy’s approximately $400 million, 180-mile, 345-kV Midwest Transmission Project in Nebraska and Montana
“- Electric Transmission Texas’ approximately $398 million, 156-mile, 345-kV Lobo to Rio Bravo to North Edinburg project in Texas
Projects that are scheduled to come online in 2017 include:
“- Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s approximately $350 million, 200-mile, 345×2-kV Antelope Valley Station to Neset Transmission Project in North Dakota
“- Appalachian Power Co.’s approximately $337 million, 52-mile, 138-kV Kanawha Valley Area Transmission Reinforcement project in West Virginia
“- ITC Midwest’s approximately $283 million, 100-mile, 345×2-kV Minnesota-Iowa project in Minnesota and Iowa
“- Commonwealth Edison’s approximately $277 million, 57-mile, 345-kV Grand Prairie Gateway Project in Illinois
“- Otter Tail Power’s approximately $227 million, 70-mile, 345×2-kV Big Stone South to Brookings project in South Dakota
Projects that are scheduled to come online in 2018 include:
“- TransWest Express’ approximately $3 billion, 725-mile, 600-kV HVDC TransWest Express Project in Wyoming and Nevada
“- Clean Line Energy Partners’ approximately $1.8 billion, 490-mile, 600-kV HVDC Rock Island Clean Line project in Illinois and Iowa
“- PowerBridge’s approximately $1 billion, 80-mile, 320-kV HVDC West Point Transmission Project in New York
“- The Nevada Hydro Company’s approximately $900 million, 32-mile, 500-kV underground/aboveground Talega to Escondido/Valley to Serrano Transmission Project in California
“- Westlands Water District’s approximately $593 million, 87-mile, 500-kV Westlands Transmission Corridor project in California.
Knutson said that “it’s time to plan for the grid of the future,” and to replace aging infrastructure, adding that such matters as the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which is pending at Congress, would support faster permitting processes, and that would make much needed grid expansion happen.
Companies are spending at a high level in transmission, and investment on power generation and distribution is equally as high, he said.
ABB Charges Transformer at Record 1.2 Million Volts in India
ABB announced it has developed, manufactured and energized a 1,200-kV ultra-high-voltage power transformer to support India’s plans to build a 1,200-kV transmission system, supplementing the existing 400-kV and 800-kV transmission grid as demand for electricity increases. The transformer was manufactured and tested at ABB’s Vadodara facility in India.
This 1.2-million-volt transformer represents the highest alternating current (AC) voltage level in the world and is installed at the national test station at Bina, Madhya Pradesh in central India. It is part of a collaborative initiative by the country’s central transmission utility, Power Grid Corp. of India.
India’s geographic span means that resource-rich generation centers and urban and industrial load centers are often far apart therefore requiring efficient power transmission. Along with the country’s commitment to increase renewable energy sources, these factors are driving the development of an ultra-high-voltage transmission infrastructure.
The 1,200-kV transmission system will help strengthen the grid and enhance load capacity up to 6,000 MW. Transmission at higher voltages enables larger amounts of electricity to be transported across longer distances, while minimizing losses. At the same time, less space is needed for fewer transmission lines, which reduces the environmental impact and overall cost.
In addition to the transformer, ABB has also developed a 1,200-kV circuit breaker that was previously commissioned at the test station. This was the first hybrid gas insulated switchgear in the world to be energized at this voltage level. The uniquely designed circuit breaker is safely housed with the disconnector in a tank filled with insulating gas-resulting in a space saving potential of up to 60 percent compared with conventional designs.
Saft Designing Backup Nickel Battery Systems for Brasilia Substations
Brazilian power utility CEB (Companhia Energetica de Brasilia) awarded Saft a contract to design, manufacture and supply nickel backup battery systems for all 34 distribution substations serving Brasilia, the country’s capital city. The Saft Uptimax batteries are replacing the existing lead-acid batteries at the CEB substations to provide a significant increase in reliability and availability while reducing battery maintenance and replacement costs.
Brasilia is the capital of Brazil and the seat of government for the country’s Federal District. CEB controls electric power distribution, generation and transmission assets covering an area of over 2,040 square miles, providing service to more than 990,000 clients and nearly 2.9 million residents.
The substation backup batteries play a critical role for CEB by ensuring a continuous 125 V supply to support all the auxiliary loads such as switchgear, automation and protection circuits for up to 10 hours if there is an interruption to the main power supply. Previously, the substations were fitted with lead-acid batteries, however, this is a particularly demanding application with ambient temperatures reaching 35 C, contributing to the risk of unpredictable, premature battery failure.
To ensure total reliability of its backup systems, CEB has implemented a one-year program to replace the batteries at all 34 of its distribution substations with Saft Uptimax batteries. These batteries are designed to operate reliably even at elevated temperatures.
“Ensuring continuity of customer supply is a mission critical aspect of CEB’s power distribution business. That’s why we have made the decision to purchase nickel backup batteries for the first time in our company history,” said Arthur Franklin, substations maintenance manager of CEB. “This switch to Saft batteries gives us renewed confidence that our substation backup systems will always perform as required, whenever they are called upon.”
Each CEB substation will be fitted with two battery banks, so Saft is supplying a total of 68 Uptimax systems comprising 96 cells ranging in capacity from 100 to 170 Ah. The first systems were delivered to CEB in June 2016.