Duke Commencing Smart Meter Rollout in Kentucky
Duke Energy Kentucky launched its smart meter deployment program last month, bringing new digital technology to customers in northern Kentucky.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission approved the smart meter rollout in May. Duke has about 143,000 electric customers in five Kentucky counties.
The new meters offer several enhanced services that will provide customers with more control over their energy use as well as tailored bill payment options. Customers with smart meters will have the opportunity to pick billing due dates and receive alerts that will guide their monthly budgeting and help them manage their personal energy lifestyle.
“Customers have told us they want more timely access to their energy usage information, and bringing these smart meters to Kentucky is a way for us to meet those expectations,” said Jim Henning, president, Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky. “We know our customers also want more control over their energy usage, their utility bills and tools to help them make smart energy choices to best fit their needs.”
Deployment will take approximately 18 months.
S&C Electric, Ameren Pull off Islanding Test on Illinois Microgrid
Ameren Corp. and S&C Electric Co. conducted a successful 24-hour islanding test at the recently deployed Ameren microgrid in Champaign, Illinois. The microgrid has been operational since May and can provide a transition from grid-connected to island mode.
The test focused on the 50 kW microgrid at the site, which powers an Ameren research facility. The complete microgrid includes 225 kW of renewable generation (PV solar and wind) and 250 kW/500 kWh of battery energy storage.
The August test began with the battery’s state of charge at 97 percent capacity. Once the battery was depleted to 90 percent capacity, solar and wind generation kicked in, simultaneously carrying the load and charging the battery.
This pattern continued throughout the day, never letting the battery fall lower than 88 percent capacity. In short, the microgrid functioned without any human interaction, automatically coordinating resources and ensuring power never faltered.
Upon conclusion of the 24-hour test, the microgrid successfully moved back into grid-connected mode without any loss of power for end users.
“We have one of the few microgrids in the world that operates at utility-scale voltages and can seamlessly transition from grid-connected to islanded mode,” said Ron Pate, senior vice president, operations and technical services at Ameren Illinois. “This successful test provided tangible proof that the system can accomplish what it was designed to do. The microgrid isn’t theoretical and our tests don’t need to be lab simulations.”
During the test, the Ameren microgrid functioned on 100 percent renewable energy throughout the day. Many microgrids of this scale need to rely on rotating machines or generators, which prevent 100 percent penetration of renewable energy in these situations.
At the Ameren microgrid, when the generation exceeds the load, the excess powers the battery. With a rotating machine, the influx of generation would have caused the system to trip due to penetration limits.
“When designing this microgrid, we were confident that the seamless transition and the ability to run solely on renewable generation would be two of the biggest features to this system,” said David Chiesa, senior director, business development at S&C. “Microgrids are becoming more commonplace on the grid, and this test continues to prove how impactful they can be for energy users.”
SMUD, GridX Team up on new Time-of-Day Billing Tool
Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and GridX Inc. will partner to roll out a new bill scenario analysis tool that will allow SMUD’s customer service representatives (CSRs) to help customers learn more about how the transition to time-of-day rates will impact their bills.
GridX is a provider of big data billing and billing quality analytics solutions for energy companies using smart grid infrastructure. Its technology enables utilities to design, promote and operate new energy products and programs.
Under a traditional tiered rate system, bills are calculated based on the volume of energy customers use. Under time-of-day rates, when customers use energy will be just as important as how much they use.
After SMUD transitions all customers to time-of-day plans by the end of 2019, about 44 percent of customers will pay less over the course of a year than they do under the current system, even if they make no changes to their energy use. About 49 percent of customers will pay about $2 more per month on average under the new plan, and about 8 percent will pay about $6.80 more per month. If these customers adjust when they use energy, they may be able to reduce their bills and save money on a time-of-day plan.
The new bill scenario analysis tool will allow a SMUD CSR to accurately calculate a specific customer’s bills on a new rate. It will also allow the CSR to discuss various energy use scenarios with the customer and calculate how his or her bill will be impacted by shifting energy use to different time periods, adding or removing programs, deploying rooftop solar, adding an electric vehicle or possibly switching to SMUD’s fixed rate option. The bill scenarios are personalized to each customer and calculated in real time while customers are on the phone.
“As we transition our customers to time-of-day rates, we want to help them learn as much as possible about how their bill may be impacted and what they can do to control their energy costs,” said Nicole Howard, SMUD’s chief customer officer. “By working with GridX, we’ll be able to roll out an accurate, responsive tool that will allow us to provide specific numbers to our customers so they can make informed choices.”
DOE Allocates $900,000 Toward University Grid Research
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability will allocate $900,000 in early-stage research on risk and uncertainty within the power system.
The funding will help three universities do work on reliability issues. The investment is part of the Energy Department’s Grid Modernization Initiative. The three recipients are Penn State University, the University of Utah and Virginia Tech.
Penn State University
Penn State University’s effort is called “A Multistage Stochastic Transmission Expansion Algorithm for Wide-area Planning under Uncertainty.” The team will focus on developing a “novel computational method” for solving uncertainty in transmission plans for a large power system network.
Penn State researchers will develop algorithms, software tools and demonstration tests on working systems such as Western Interconnection or PJM Interconnection. The project is expected to result in a dramatic reduction in the computation time required for solving challenges for transmission lines when it’s not known where future generation choices will be located.
DOE is investing $174,061 for the project, while the cost share will be $54,258. Final award amounts for all projects are subject to negotiation.
University of Utah
At the University of Utah, researchers will use the DOE funds to develop models for stochastic continuous-time unit commitment (UC) in wholesale market operations. The proposed UC will accurately model the continuous-time variations of load and renewable energy sources (RES), and efficiently deploy the ramping capability of flexible resources to compensate the sources of variability and uncertainty in markets-all while respecting the continuous-time flow constraints of transmission networks.
The approach will model the uncertainty of RES and load forecast by continuous-time power trajectory realization scenarios, according to the DOE release. The results could help compensate for real-time energy imbalance and ramping requirements, as well as enable competitive integration of energy storage devices and demand response.
The federal investment is $357,339, with an additional cost-share of $92,552.
The Virginia Tech project will focus on developing production costing tools that can consider the variable nature of renewable energy sources and treat them as generation candidates in a power system expansion plan. The object is to develop a probability-based model for effective load carrying capacity and cost-effective integration of renewables into the power grid.
The fundamental goal will be developing a probability-based optimization tool that can reflect the nature of solar and wind energy outputs. This tool would allow Independent System Operators and Regional Transmission Operators to consider renewable energy as an option for their expansion plans and help them calculate the capacity credit for each solar or wind farm.
DOE is investing $359,691 in the Virginia Tech project. Cost share is $89,958.
Electric Power Sector Accounts for 20 percent of American GDP, Report Says
By Rod Walton, Senior Editor
Nearly 2.7 million Americans work directly for the electric power industry while roughly 5 percent of the nation’s jobs are linked to the sector somehow, according to a new report released in August.
The electric power industry altogether contributes about $880 billion annually to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), itself about 5 percent of the total national GDP, reads the findings from consulting firm M.J. Bradley & Associates’ report, “Powering America: The Economic and Workforce Contributions of the U.S. Electric Power Industry.”
The tally was conducted for the Edison Electric Institute, the American Public Power Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Results indicate that the electric power sector also spends deeply on infrastructure and at a quickening pace.
“In 2016, the industry’s capital investments exceeded $135 billion-a level of investment that is more than twice what it was a decade ago,” the report says. “These investments benefit customers and support jobs dedicated to building smarter energy infrastructure and to creating a cleaner generation fleet. Many of the individuals who support and build infrastructure projects are represented by organized labor.”
In 2015, the median income for electric power industry jobs hovered around $73,000-twice the national median. Benefits lifted that total closer to $100,000, according to the Bradley report. Many of those employees have been working for their companies 15 years or longer, indicating job stability in the ever-changing economy.
More growth potential and financial challenges are on the way, despite falling demand for traditional revenue sources. A Washington State University Energy Program report from 2013 estimated that the sector will need to invest about $1.5 trillion on upgrading grid infrastructure through 2030.
Engineers, lineworkers, plant and field operators and technicians make up about 44 percent of the energy power sector workforce, according to 2015 data used in the report. Engineers typically make close to $44 per hour.
In addition to those considered company direct workers, the sector also employs 1.7 million contractors and supply chain employees directly or induced from spending, according to the report.
Approval Sought for Project Connecting Arizona, Mexico Grids
By Corina Rivera Linares, Chief Analyst, TransmissionHub
Nogales Transmission L.L.C. and UNS Electric Inc. (UNSE) requested from the Arizona Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee certificates of environmental compatibility for authority to build two related transmission projects connecting Arizona and Mexico.
The facilities would result in an asynchronous connection between the electric grid in southern Arizona and the electric grid in northwestern Mexico, offering such benefits to each system as access to additional energy sources, markets and ancillary services; cost savings; and economic development, the companies said.
The facilities would support the reliability of each electric system, including providing bidirectional power flow, voltage support and emergency assistance, as needed, for the electric systems north and south of the international border, the companies said.
The Nogales, Arizona, area, which relies on a single transmission line for power supply, would obtain access to additional sources of electricity in the event of a reliability emergency.
The Nogales Interconnection Project consists of these three components, all of which would be in Santa Cruz County, the companies said:
A UNSE 138-kV gateway substation and a Nogales Transmission 230-kV gateway substation, which would be the location of high voltage direct current converter equipment, will be referred to collectively as the Gateway substation
A new, approximately three-mile, double-circuit 138-kV transmission line will be built by UNSE-one circuit will extend the existing UNSE Vail to Valencia line from a point near UNSE’s Valencia substation to the proposed Gateway substation, and one circuit will connect the new Gateway substation to the existing Valencia substation
A new approximately two-mile, single-circuit, 230-kV transmission line will be built by Nogales Transmission on double-circuit capable structures that will connect the proposed Gateway substation to the U.S.-Mexico border, where it will interconnect with the Red Nacional de Transmisiàƒ³n, the state-owned transmission grid operated by Centro Nacional de Control de Energàƒa.
The companies noted that entities on both sides of the international border have taken initial steps to facilitate the Nogales Interconnection Project, which is being jointly developed by MEH Equities Management Co. and Nogales Transmission, which is an indirect subsidiary of Hunt Power L.P., an indirect subsidiary of Hunt Consolidated Inc.
EV Battery Startup Romeo Power gains $30M in Seed Funding
Romeo Power, packed with former employees from Tesla and other tech giants, is drawing a sizable amount of venture capital in its drive to challenge bigger energy storage pioneers.
The Southern California startup announced it has attracted $30 million in seed financing, which follows a $5 million round of early investment. The large-scale fiscal injection came as Romeo Power completes its 113,000 square-foot manufacturing site near downtown Los Angeles.
Romeo is ramping production of its lithium-ion battery packs for electric vehicle (EV) and stationary storage applications. The modular battery packs-comprised of cylindrical lithium-ion cells-can be used in cars, power sport vehicles, motorcycles, trucks, buses and forklifts, according to the company release. The trademarked PowerStack stationary storage pack can be used by businesses to store electricity during off-peak hours.
Romeo Power says it has gained $65 million in initial orders since kicking off its sales effort this year. Those contracts and design agreements span U.S. and European automakers, manufacturers of motorcycles and forklifts, industrial players such as power designers and robotics companies, according to the release.
“We’ve seen incredible momentum in a short period, and we’re scaling manufacturing as fast as we can to meet demand,” said Michael Patterson, Romeo Power founder and CEO. There’s a massive market opportunity for energy storage technologies.”
Romeo Power employees, who previously worked for Tesla, SpaceX, Apple, Amazon and Samsung, began selling its packs several months ago. The packs went into production even before Tesla’s highly publicized factory was completed, according to a previous article by Forbes.
Silver Spring to Extend Starfish into London Smart Lighting Projects
Silver Spring Networks Inc. will deploy its Starfish platform-as-a-service (PaaS) across the city of London and the London borough of Barking and Dagenham. This adds to the previously announced London deployment in the City of Westminster.
Through Urban Control Ltd, the newest company within the DW Windsor Group, Silver Spring’s Starfish is expected to connect approximately 12,000 smart street lights in the city of London and 15,500 smart street lights in the borough of Barking and Dagenham. Starfish is based on Silver Spring’s wireless network and data platform, built on the Wi-SUN Internet of Things (IoT) mesh technology specification.
Silver Spring is a founding member and co-chair of the Wi-SUN Alliance, which drives the interoperability for wireless solutions based on the IEEE 802.15.4g standard.
“We are excited that our go-to-market strategy is gaining momentum internationally, with our newest award in the UK, and we are honored to expand our deployment in London,” Ayse Ildeniz, Silver Spring Networks’ chief operating officer, said in a company statement. “Being selected by London demonstrates that world-class cities rely on technology that is proven to be secure, reliable, scalable and based on our open standards technology.”
Silver Spring’s platform was selected to provide 100 percent coverage in the dense urban setting of London, including streets, lanes and alleyways where cellular technology is unavailable, and star networks could not reach. “The Square Mile” is a global financial hub and central business district through which more than 450,000 commuters pass daily. The smart street lights will help London achieve its energy savings goals and reduce operational costs, while also improving service reliability and helping lay a platform for future IoT applications.
In East London, the borough of Barking and Dagenham is aiming to drive energy efficiency through remote dimming and brightening of the new smart street lights. The program is a core aspect of the Borough’s goal to become the Green Energy Capital of London, and an important aspect within the selection was Silver Spring’s ability to deploy additional IoT services in the future.
With more than 26.7 million enabled devices delivered on five continents. Silver Spring Networks has also deployed its technology in Bristol, Chicago, Copenhagen, Dubai, Glasgow, Kolkata, Melbourne, Mexico City, Paris, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Singapore, and Washington, D.C.
First Solar Connecting Solar Projects Down Under
First Solar won a 241 MW module supply contract by RCR Tomlinson as engineering, procurement and construction contractor for Edify Energy’s Daydream (180.7 MW) and Hayman (60.2 MW) solar projects in Queensland, Australia. This contract takes First Solar’s delivery pipeline to over 500 MW in the next 12 months.
Located across two sites north of Collinsville, the projects will use an optimized technology solution that includes single axis tracking technology from Array Technologies, and more than 2,026,565 First Solar advanced thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules, to produce about 531,000 MWh of sustainable energy each year.
On completion, the projects will provide environmental benefits, producing enough sustainable energy to displace 429,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year combined. This will serve the needs of nearly 73,000 average Queensland homes, the equivalent of taking nearly 115,000 cars off the road.
Construction on the projects is scheduled to commence in the third quarter 2017, with module delivery in fourth quarter 2017 and first quarter 2018.