ERCOT 2014 Energy Use up 2.5 Percent From 2013

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Electric use in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) region increased 2.5 percent in 2014 compared with 2013 while peak demand during the hottest part of summer decreased a little more than 1 percent.

This information, along with other information about power use, fuel mix and demand, are included in the "2014 Demand and Energy Report" released by ERCOT, the grid operator and manager of the electric market for most of Texas.


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Energy use over the course of the year in the ERCOT region increased from 331,624,102 megawatt-hours (MWh) in 2013 to 340,033,353 MWh in 2014, mainly because of increases during extremely cold winter months early in the year.

At 66,454 MW, peak demand was down some 1.2 percent from 2013 and lower than the all-time record of 68,305 MW set Aug. 3, 2011, during the hottest summer on record. One megawatt is enough electricity to power some 200 homes during the highest demand periods.

Generation Mix Changes

Natural gas, at 41.1 percent, continued to be the prevalent fuel used to generate electricity, increasing from 40.5 percent in 2013. Coal use in the overall energy mix decreased from 37.2 percent in 2013 to 36 percent in 2014.

Wind power generation continued to increase-up to 10.6 percent in 2014, from 9.9 percent in 2013. With the prolonged drought's continuing to affect stored water supplies in much of the state, hydroelectric power remained at only 0.1 percent-the same as 2013.


CPS Energy Enrolls 6,500 Seniors in Late Fee Waiver Program

Seniors

CPS Energy enrolled nearly 6,500 low-income seniors in a new late fee waiver program, the latest of 10 existing customer assistance programs, the San Antonio natural gas and electric utility announced.

The Residential Senior Citizen Late Payment waiver went into effect Feb. 1 and is open to customers who are:

  • 60 or older;
  • At or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level; and
  • Account holders (utility bill is in his or her name).

Seniors in the following programs were enrolled automatically because they match the requirements: Affordability Discount, Residential Energy Assistance Partnership and Casa Verde weatherization.

The idea for the waiver came from a participant at a District 7 town hall meeting in 2014. San Antonio City Councilman Cris Medina and CPS Energy leadership listened.

"The waiver will give seniors on fixed incomes the peace of mind of knowing no matter the uncertainty of the Texas weather, they'll never have to worry about late fees being added to their monthly bills, giving them more time and money to enjoy their golden years," Medina said.

Late fee amounts vary per customer bill because they are calculated as 2 percent of the electric bill-not a flat fee.

Customers who are potentially eligible for the program can visit a CPS Energy customer service center to fill out an application or download it from www.cpsenergy.com and mail it to the utility.

At least 10 programs are available for customers who need assistance. They include options for seniors, burned veterans, families with small children, the disabled and those experiencing temporary hardships.


Itron Wins 2014 North American Frost & Sullivan Smart City Company of the Year

Farah Saeed, principal consultant at Frost & Sullivan, second from left
Farah Saeed, principal consultant at Frost & Sullivan, second from left, presents the company's Smart City Company of the Year to Itron's Sharelynn Moore (vice president, corporate marketing and public affairs), Russ Vanos (senior vice president, strategy and corporate development), and Philip Mezey (president and CEO).

Frost & Sullivan named Itron Inc. its 2014 North America Company of the Year for the smart city market, Itron announced.

The award recognizes Itron's smart city growth strategy and excellence in implementation. It commends the company's market expansion, consistently diversified offerings, year-over-year growth in customer wins and repeat business.

"2014 has clearly been an exceptional year for Itron," said Farah Saeed, principle consultant at Frost & Sullivan. "The company has exhibited year-over-year growth in customers, repeat business, as well as venturing into newer territories. Frost & Sullivan firmly believes that Itron is, first and foremost, a technology innovator. The company consistently demonstrates the ability to diversify offerings to combat cyclical sales periods and address emerging market needs."

Frost & Sullivan follows a 10-step process to evaluate award candidates and assess their fit with select best practice criteria. For the Company of the Year Award, Frost & Sullivan analysts independently evaluated two key factors: visionary innovation and performance and customer impact.

Itron offers smart technologies as the foundation for smart cities, enabling cities, utilities and citizens to use information and communications to enhance livability, workability and sustainability. The company's Itron Riva solution, a recent offering that will contribute to connecting millions of devices in cities, delivers edge intelligence and adaptive communications technology to enable automated decision-making at the edge of the smart grid network. Itron is helping create a breakthrough sensing ecosystem to enable growth in global markets ranging from smart cities to the Internet of Things.

Itron was recognized with the award Jan. 14 during the 2015 Excellence in Best Practices Awards Gala at the Hilton San Diego.


DNV GL: 30 Percent of Electrical Grid Components Fail Independent Verification Tests

failed

Thirty percent of components tested in DNV GL laboratories fail to pass the physical laboratory tests and don't achieve certification, DNV GL announced.

The company is the global authority on testing, inspection and certification of power system components.

Independent certification of power system components helps ensure that utilities provide the most reliable service possible. When components do not pass certification tests, the cost to the industry and society can be measured in increased cost, lost revenue, power outages, safety issues and liability cases. In the U.S., electrical power outages, surges and spikes are estimated to cause more than $150 billion in annual damages to the economy.

"In addition to enhancing reliability by ensuring that performance and safety criteria have been met-a critical proof in liability cases-certification also streamlines and optimizes the equipment purchasing process," said Jacob Fontijne, executive vice president of power TIC at DNV GL. "When utilities insist that manufacturers provide certification, the industry and society benefit from increased reliability, safety and efficiency. It's in our DNA to safeguard life, property and the environment-that's why we are committed to continue to deliver high-quality testing, inspection and certification services for the power industry through our KEMA Laboratories."

Around the world, the growth of high-voltage power networks is driving a proliferation of new high-voltage transmission and distribution components, such as circuit-breakers and power transformers and new component manufacturers. Before installing these new components in the power network, utilities must be confident they are reliable and function correctly to minimize risks of outages.

To accommodate this growing need, DNV GL has made significant investment to improve and expand its testing capabilities in its KEMA Laboratories to accommodate the newest developments in components for electricity transmission networks. It recently added a new, larger test cell to its KEMA Laboratory in Chalfont, Pennsylvania, which increases capacity, efficiency and safety, especially for internal arc testing. It combines a data acquisition and measurement system with today's most advanced testing technology. DNV GL also is investing $80 million to upgrade facilities at its KEMA High-Power Lab in Arnhem, the Netherlands. This investment is addressing the industry's future needs and will create the world's first facility for testing extreme high-voltage components.



EYE ON the world

Dominican Republic's CEPM, GE to modernize Punta Cana grid

punta cana

Consorcio Energético Punta Cana Macao (CEPM), a standalone electrical utility generating, transmitting and distributing electricity in Bávaro and Punta Cana in the east of the Dominican Republic, has selected GE to deliver more than 14,000 smart meters and GE's Grid IQTM point-to-multipoint (P2MP) advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), GE announced.

The solutions will provide CEPM with crucial electrical data to improve grid efficiency and operational performance.

"The Dominican Republic is one of the most visited destinations in the Caribbean, and the Bávaro–Punta Cana area receives 60 percent of the tourists that come to the country," said Roberto Herrera, executive director of CEPM. "This makes grid reliability a high priority for us. GE's smart meters and Grid IQ advanced metering infrastructure solutions will allow us to connect our smart meter infrastructure across our entire service territory with minimal network requirements. They also will give us important real-time information to help us better understand what we can do to optimize our electrical grid."

CEPM's coverage territory includes the fastest-growing hotel and resort area in the Dominican Republic, serving more than 60,000 hotel rooms, which makes grid reliability important in the Dominican Republic's tourism industry. The installation of GE's AMI solution will create an all-encompassing wireless metering network, providing CEPM with crucial electrical usage data to improve grid efficiency and functionality while enabling the integration of renewable energy sources into the grid.

GE's meters and AMI solution, integrating RPMA (Random Phase Multiple Access) Network radio technology developed by On-Ramp Wireless, will help enable effective two-way communication between CEPM and its customers. For example, CEPM's smart meters will provide customers with hourly data on their energy usage. Smart meters also will alert CEPM to power outages automatically-without requiring customers to contact the utility-and help pinpoint the problem so CEPM can restore power faster.

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