S&C Electric Company Expands Manufacturing Capacity for Power Quality Products

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S&C Electric Company announced a major expansion of its engineering and production facilities in Franklin, Wis. This facility, expected to open on August 1, supports S&C's power quality products, which include energy storage integration solutions, reactive compensation systems applied at renewable energy plants and extremely fast uninterruptible power supplies for mission critical power users.

The expansion will double S&C's manufacturing capacity for these products, allowing them to better support global demand for solutions to a wide range of challenges facing today's power grids.

"S&C's power quality products are used to implement the latest smart grid technology which improves the reliability, capacity and efficiency of electric power grids. This is of heightened importance as communities worldwide work to integrate disruptive new technologies like renewable energy sources and electric vehicles to the grid," said Jim Sember, S&C vice president—power quality products. "This expansion positions S&C to meet growing demand for products that help our customers manage these varied challenges."

The gird is becoming increasingly complex and S&C's power quality solutions are designed to help renewable energy plants comply with interconnection requirements as well as enable utilities to manage intermittency issues associated with renewables, Sember added.


EPRI Demonstrates Utility Direct Fast-charger Technology for EVs

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) on Feb. 23 demonstrated the first prototype 2.4kV 45kVA-based, solid-state, direct-current (DC) fast-charging technology for electric vehicles (EVs) at its laboratory in Knoxville, Tenn.

The Utility Direct Fast Charger technology enables the rapid charging of a plug-in EV (PEV) and serves as a utility-owned distribution asset used for other electricity delivery purposes.

This technology uses fewer components than comparable DC fast-charging technologies being designed and used. The simple design is expected to lower installation costs and be more efficient than commercial DC fast-charging systems.

Conventional DC fast-charging systems can attain efficiencies in the 90 to 92 percent range. When combined with the efficiency of a required three-phase supply transformer, the overall efficiency drops to 89 to 91 percent. This technology is expected to achieve an overall system efficiency of 96 to 97 percent.

EPRI used a Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi iMiEV in Knoxville to demonstrate the communication capability of this fast-charging technology with EV battery management systems. A user interface and Web-based mobile data collection system also were included in the demonstration.

The EPRI Utility Direct Fast Charger technology was developed by a team of engineers and scientists from EPRI and Enertronics with financial and technical support from Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

Where This Technology Makes Sense

This technology could be applied in two scenarios:

1. A utility that wants to provide fast-charging capability directly from its distribution system. This could be useful in dense cities where fast chargers are placed that are not hosted by a business.

2. A business that wants to install Intelligent Universal Transformer (IUT) technology as its building transformer, add fast-charging service and integrate its onsite solar, energy storage and building energy management system. This could help manage high-peak loads of the DC charger and the impact on the utility and a business's own cost of service, specifically by reducing demand charges.

DC fast-charging technology significantly could increase the range and versatility of battery EVs, enhancing their commercial appeal. Prior EPRI research indicates that current EVs have sufficient range for most daily driving.

Previous Research

Based on successful collaborative research, EPRI developed a 2.4-kV 10-kW working prototype of a DC fast charger for EV application using a technology known as IUT 2 as the key component.

The proof of concept of the fully functional 2.4-kV 10-kW medium-voltage IUT-based DC fast-charging system was successfully demonstrated in March 2011 at the EPRI laboratory in Knoxville.

This demonstration confirms the capability of this unit to provide a full vehicle charge. Performance of this new technology will be compared with a commercial 200-V three-phase DC fast charger. This will be the first of efforts planned to take this technology from laboratory prototypes to field demonstrations.

The IUT technology replaces the independent power conversion units and the conventional transformer with a single interface system that can be used for fast charging of EVs. The versatility of the IUT provides an intermediate DC bus voltage at the 400-V level that can be directly used for a DC distribution system or for EV fast charging.

The medium-voltage IUT-DC fast charger has the potential to achieve efficiency higher than 96 percent in the 10 to 90 percent operating range, more than a 6 percent savings over the conventional approach. For a dedicated DC fast charger where the DC-AC inverter is not needed, the isolated DC-DC converter output can be directly used for fast charging, avoiding an additional 1.5 percent energy loss. The elimination of the conventional transformer also allows significant size and weight reduction on cabling and installation.

The standard ANSI-based 50-kW transformer weighs more than 800 pounds. The entire charging station including the low-voltage-based charger will weigh more than 1,000 pounds. The entire EPRI IUT-DC fast charger electronics weighs less than 150 pounds.


Con Edison Technology Makes New York City Streets Safer

Con Edison continues to develop technology to keep pedestrians and pets safe from contact voltage. Company crews use handheld, directional electric-field sensors to zero in on energized objects. Con Edison crews investigating contact voltage reports sweep the device side-to-side until the lights on the device glow bright red. The lights indicate the device is near an energized streetlight, sidewalk grating, fence or other object.

Con Edison developed the technology with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

"We strive to use the expertise of our engineers to make our service safe, reliable and efficient, and this innovation is a good example of that," said John Miksad, Con Edison senior vice president of electric operations. "Thanks to the dedication of our engineers and those at EPRI, New York City streets are safer."

Contact voltage, sometimes called stray voltage, occurs when a defective electrical cable or wire energizes an object. Wet conditions and road salt increase the likelihood of an object's conducting electricity.

The e-field sensor is the newest tool Con Edison uses to locate objects energized by contact voltage. The heart of the program is a fleet of 15 mobile contact voltage detectors developed by the company's research and development department. The detectors are mounted on trucks that roll along city streets at night.

The company recently filed an annual report with the New York State Public Service Commission that showed 79 shocks were reported in its service area in 2011, 27 of which were Con Edison's responsibility.

In 2004, the first year of Con Edison's program, 285 shocks were reported. Of those, 210 were the company's responsibility.

Shocks in 2011 represent a slight increase from 2010, when there were 59 shocks, including 15 from the company's equipment, which the company attributed to severe weather.

Twenty-five of 2011's shocks were reported in January, when 36 inches of snow fell in New York City. And there were nine each in August and September, the two rainiest months.

Con Edison annually tests nearly 750,000 structures, including manholes, service boxes, underground transformers, and city or municipally owned street and traffic lights.

The company found and made safe 8,560 energized objects in 2011. About 35 percent of those were not the company's responsibility. When Con Edison finds contact voltage, it guards the area until repairs are made, even if it does not own the defective equipment.

See a video demonstrating the device at http://youtube.com/watch?v=cbvylugttew.


More Utilities and Companies Commit to Green Button, Giving Millions More Opportunity to Shrink Bills

Responding to President Obama's call for an "all-of-the-above" strategy to help consumers reduce their energy costs, the administration announced on March 22 that nine major utilities and electricity suppliers will commit to providing more than 15 million households access to data about their energy use with an online "Green Button." By providing consumers with secure, easy-to-understand information about how they are using energy in their households, Green Button can help them reduce waste and shrink bills.

"Empowering American families to shrink their own utility bills is an important part of this Administration's all-of-the-above energy strategy," said Dr. John P. Holdren, assistant to the president and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. "With new online tools made possible by the Green Button, families will have easy access to information on how they can reduce their energy use and put more money in their pocket."

"Green Button will arm millions of Americans with information they can use to lower their energy bills," said Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "Innovative tools like these are good for our economy, good for the health of our communities, and an essential part of our approach toward a secure and clean energy future that works for Americans."

Inspired by a White House call to action, Green Button is an industry-led effort that allows electricity customers to download their household or building energy-use data in a consumer- and computer-friendly format.

The utilities and electricity suppliers making new commitments include:

  • American Electric Power, serving 5.3 million customers in 11 states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia)
  • Austin Energy, serving 400,000 customers in Texas;
  • Baltimore Gas and Electric, serving 1.2 million customers in Maryland;
  • CenterPoint Energy, serving 1.8 million households in Texas;
  • Commonwealth Edison, serving 3.4 million households in Illinois;
  • NSTAR, serving 1.1 million households in Massachusetts;
  • PECO, serving 1.4 million households in Pennsylvania;
  • Reliant, serving 500,000 households in Texas; and
  • Virginia Dominion Power, serving 2.4 million customers in Virginia and North Carolina.

These utilities have agreed to base their Green Buttons on a common technical standard developed in collaboration with a public-private partnership supported by the U. S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Adoption of a consensus standard by utilities across the U.S. means software developers and other entrepreneurs have a sufficiently large market to support creating innovative applications that can help consumers make the most of their energy information. Companies announcing commitments in late March to support Green Button utility deployment include Itron, OPower, Oracle and Silver Spring Networks. They join Aclara and Tendril that committed earlier.

Green Button-enabled Web and smartphone applications are designed to help consumers choose the most economical rate plan for their use patterns, provide customized energy efficiency tips, provide easy-to-use tools to size and finance rooftop solar panels, and deliver virtual energy audit software that cuts costs for building owners and gets retrofits started sooner. Companies that announced plans to develop applications or services for businesses and consumers using this industry data standard include: Belkin, Efficiency 2.0, EnergySavvy, FirstFuel, Honest Buildings, Lucid, Plotwatt, Schneider-Electric, Simple Energy and Sunrun.

The commitments announced in March build on similar commitments made in January by Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Southern California Edison, Oncor, Pepco Holdings Inc., Glendale Water and Power and San Diego Gas & Electric to provide the capability to nearly 12 million households in 2012.


San Diego Gas & Electric Named National Climate Leader

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) on Feb. 29 received the Organizational Leadership Award at the inaugural Climate Leadership Awards in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Climate Leadership Awards recognize organizations that go beyond business as usual in the management and reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The awards are presented by: the Environmental Protection Agency; Association of Climate Change Officers; Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, formerly the Pew Center on Global Climate Change; and The Climate Registry.

The Organizational Leadership Award was presented to SDG&E for exemplifying leadership in its internal response to climate change and effective outreach to engage its customers, community stakeholders, partners and supply chain in high-impact energy efficiency and carbon-reduction initiatives.

"At SDG&E, environmental stewardship is an essential part of our business," said Pamela J. Fair, vice president of environmental and support services and chief environmental officer. "In the past decade, we have gone beyond the basic requirements of regulatory compliance to make environmental stewardship part of our culture. Through initiatives based on collaboration and innovation with environmental stakeholders, including the community and our employees, we've made measurable progress in reducing greenhouse gases."

Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, said she commends SDG&E on its leadership in cutting carbon pollution that harms the climate and threatens health.

"SDG&E and all of our Climate Leadership Award winners demonstrate that organizations who are taking action to mitigate climate change are also operating more efficiently, more innovatively and more competitively," McCarthy said.


EYE ON THE WORLD

Siemens to Increase Transmission Capacity between England and Scotland

Siemens Energy, in a partnership with the Milan-based cable company Prysmian, will build a submarine DC interconnector in the Irish Sea, an order worth more than 1.1 billion euros ($1.45 billion). The British grid operator National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) and its Scottish counterpart Scottish Power Transmission (SPT) founded NGET/SPT Upgrades Ltd., the special-purpose joint venture, for this grid expansion project.

The grid connection between Scotland and England, designed as a low-loss high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmission system, will have a rating of 2,200 MW and will be the first submarine interconnector using a DC voltage level of 600 kV. The highest voltage level used to date is 500 kV. The Western HVDC Link project will provide additional power transmission capacity on Britain's transmission system as the U.K. heads toward a low-carbon economy. The power link will help balance supply and demand within the grid sections in light of the continued growth of remote and fluctuating renewables. The link is scheduled to be operational by late 2015.

"This order to connect National Grid's and Scottish Power's transmission networks underscores our technological leadership in the HVDC field by using the as-yet-unrivaled voltage level of 600 kV for a submarine interconnector with an also unmatched transmission capacity of 2,200 megawatts," said Udo Niehage, CEO of Siemans Energy's power transmission division.

Raising the voltage level in the cable 20 percent also enhances its transmission capacity by one-fifth. The transmission losses in the cable simultaneously are reduced by one-third. Higher-voltage levels in the cables allow higher power transmission capacity with the same diameter of copper in the cable, reducing material costs and lowering transmission losses. The total power loss in the link caused by the two conversions—from AC to DC and back to AC—as well as the ohmic resistance of the cables will be less than 3 percent.

The consortium comprising Siemens and Prysmian is responsible for turnkey supply of the link. This includes coordination and logistics efforts for cable installation along the 420-km route and HVDC converters in Hunterston, Scotland, and the Wirral area in North West England.

The 400-kV AC used in the transmission grids will be converted into DC in the Siemens HVDC converter stations. The electric power will be transmitted between these stations at ±600 kV via a submarine high-voltage cable supplied by Prysmian and reconverted to AC for further transmission and distribution. The link can transmit energy both north and south.

HVDC transmission technology significantly reduces transmission losses. It is a viable solution for economical, low-loss transmission of power via cable over distances in excess of 80 km because in an AC cable of that length a large part of the electrical energy transmitted would be lost in the form of reactive power.


Transmission Linking Panama, Columbia This Year

ISA, Colombia's state-owned transmission firm, will begin construction this year on a 372-mile transmission line connecting the Colombian and Panamanian power grids.

The line will have an initial transmission capacity of 300 MW with the option to be extended up to 600 MW. An auction for allocating the capacity is planned for May. The first power transactions between the two countries are expected to take place in early 2015.

The firm plans to participate in tenders for new transmission projects with values of up to $300 million across Colombia and Peru, as well as a July round in Brazil organized by power market regulator Agência Nacional de Energia Elétrica (ANEEL).

ISA looks to enter the Chilean transmission market for the first time this year through an upcoming tender for trunk line transmission projects on the Southern Cone country's Central Interconnected System (SIC), the central region's grid, which accounts for 68.5 percent of national generation and serves 93 percent of Chile's population; Projects to be tendered include the extension of the SIC's 500-kV transmission line from Polpaico, just north of capital Santiago in region V, up to the Cardones substation in region III. The 466-mile line is vital in giving greater power access to mining projects under development to the north of Santiago.

Contracts to build several 220-kV lines and new substations also will be offered. Chile's national energy commission said it expects investment in projects offered through the tender to hit $900 million.


SAIC Provides Smart Grid to Alaskan Villages

Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) was awarded a contract by Intelligent Energy Systems (IES) to provide smart grid infrastructure solutions at four Alaskan villages.

SAIC and IES implemented SAIC's Smart Grid as a Service (SGS) offering at these locations, and services have been online and running since Dec. 12.

SAIC's integrated hardware and software solution provides advanced metering infrastructure, outage alerts, remote connection capabilities, and lays the foundation for the future integration of fuel, water, temperature and alternative energy metering. This smart grid infrastructure will provide complete community energy management, which is needed to lower energy costs and reduce dependence on expensive diesel fuel that devastates local village economies.

"The challenges of climate, environment and information technology are especially great in these regions," said Steve Root, SAIC assistant vice president of smart grid. "SGS will deliver the immediate advantage of on-demand meter reads, improved operational efficiency, as well as reduced energy costs and will support critical energy management decisions throughout the remote regions of Alaska."

IES President Dennis Meiners said SAIC has been responsive, supportive and thorough.

"The system is affordable, and SAIC provides a complete village energy management platform," Meiners said.

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