Intelligent Utility Magazine November/December 2009
In This Issue
  • Consumer advocacy groups voice concern
    IN SOME CIRCLES, PUSHING SMART METERS MAY END UP BEING DUMB policy. But a wave of public relations is now drowning out the skeptical voices necessary to ensure that the public does not get bamboozled, some consumer advocacy groups say.The essence of this argument is that smart meters capable of reaching inside homes and adjusting energy consumption have yet to bear fruit. And if they are unable...
  • AARP discusses value for older consumers
    WHEN PEOPLE TALK SMART GRID, ONE TOPIC THAT KEEPS COMING UP IS the consumer-both from the standpoint of engaging consumers and also of using advanced technologies to generate additional value for consumers. There is certainly a lot of promise with smart grid technologies-from effectively integrating renewable generation to better informing customers about their energy use. But these promises come...
  • Delaware's smart grid progress
    BASED ON ITS MODEST GEOGRAPHY, DELAWARE MIGHT BE DISMISSED BY some in the greater U.S. business equation, but omitting the state in any serious business discussion constitutes a considerable oversight. Delaware actually maintains a rather lofty business profile-and not just because it's home to leading global businesses such as DuPont. The state's inviting business/incorporation legal structure,...
  • Pepco discusses Delaware metering deployment
    WHEN I SET OFF TO VISIT A UTILITY WITH 1.9 MILLION customers in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., I was surprised to find myself at a Pepco Holdings Inc. (PHI) office in the New Jersey countryside. I not only learned why New Jersey is called the Garden State during that visit, but also gained insight into PHI's Blueprint for the Future initiative-particularly its advanced...
  • The Offense - Smart meter + slot machine security
    WHEN TOMMY CARMICHAEL-THE WORLD'S GREATEST SLOTmachine cheat-wanted to illegally coax coins out of Las Vegas slot machines, his first step was to get his hands on the machine he wanted to cheat. He was successful at beating the best electronic security that slot machine engineers could design and milked hundreds of thousands of dollars before he got arrested.Coincidentally, Las Vegas was the...
  • The defense - Oncor keeps raising the bar on security
    ONCOR IS BUILDING INTELLIGENCE ACROSS ITS network-from synchrophasors on its transmission networks to advanced metering on homes and businesses. Mark Carpenter, Oncor's vice president and CIO, noted that the utility's smart grid "is not any one thing, but is essentially spreading intelligent devices throughout the utility system, building a communications network to support these devices,...
  • Older + wiser- Aging workers won't leave utilities in the dark
    THE UTILITY INDUSTRY IS GETTING OLDER. BY SOME estimates, nearly half of today's workforce will be eligible . for retirement in the next decade. Years of hard-won knowledge / seem doomed to disappear just as utilities are implementing \ smart grid initiatives and benefiting from improved data collection and opportunities for advanced customer communications and energy efficiency. Is this a...
  • More than in the door: Industry has to keep them too
    RECRUITING IS IMPORTANT, BUT IT IS NOT JUST about getting younger people into jobs. It is critical for the utility industry to keep them in place, too. "We really need to invest in this now. We need to get them in the door, get them trained and then raise the bar technologically," said Kalvin Davies, a director in the operations, people and change group at PricewaterhouseCoopers.ATTRACTING YOUNG...
  • New innovation: SDG&E pairs technology + workforce
    JIM AVERY, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF POWER supply for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), has a story to tell about smart grid technology and workforce education. This pairing has really taken off at his utility and throughout the area."The story is really about the power industry. More will happen in our industry in the next 10 years than has happened over the past hundred years. Now we...
  • SCE Digitally integrates renewables
    IN HIS DAYS AS A CONTROL ROOM OPERATOR MORE THAN A DECADE AGO, JOHN Pespisa remembers working intermittent renewable energy resources like wind into the system. The footprint may have been small, but the resource had to be dispatched. "Sometimes at 3 a.m., you'd wonder where the wind went," he said.No longer. With more advanced forecasting tools and improved monitoring of generation sites and...
  • Renewables are really nothing new
    FOUR RELAYS. THOSE WERE THE KEY COMPONENTS THAT ALLOWED A Delco-Light plant to automatically maintain a battery set to provide basic electrical service to more than 100,000 farms in 1920. Add a wind electric plant and save on fuel and wear and tear while maintaining reliable power. In the early 1910s, Thomas Edison investigated the use of windmills to charge his improved storage batteries for...
  • Transmission or meter investments?
    IT'S AS OLD A DEBATE AS THE CHICKEN AND THE EGG, AND AS COMPLICATED as the Gordian knot. Should utilities tackle transmission or customers first when making investments in a smarter grid?On the one hand, it's imperative-and mandated in several states in their renewable energy portfolios-to ensure new renewable generation can be added to the grid and transported to urban centers, often long...
  • Transforming builders to smart appliances
    ''WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME?'' WILL BE THE QUESTION CONSUMERS ASK WHEN it comes to buying smart appliances. As these items trickle into the marketplace, answers will have to come from informed people at utilities, appliance manufacturers, retailers, home builders and remodeling contractors. No doubt government will play a large role in public education to support national energy conservation...
  • SMUD spreading energy efficiency smarts
    AS THE SMART GRID TRAIN CHUGS OUT OFTHE STATION, IT'S LITTLE WONDER that renters nationwide fear being left behind on the platform-empty-handed.Yes, their fancy digital meters and accompanying newfangled gadgets will be the same as those installed at single-family homes. But with shared roofs and nonexistent backyards, how will residents of multi-family housing reasonably access renewable...
  • Keep your lifestyle, cut your energy bills
    WHETHER THEY ARE STAYING LATE AT WORK OR EXTENDING THEIR VACATION for one more day, North Carolina's Fayetteville Public Works Commission (PWC) customers can control how much energy they use without going home to turn down the heat or turn off the air conditioning unit.Through PWC's new pilot program, which launched this past summer, certain residents and small commercial properties can cut back...
  • Smarter grids will change asset care
    THESE DAYS, COBB ELECTRIC MEMBERSHIP CORPORATION (COBB EMC), A COOP based in Marietta, Ga., uses geographic information system (GIS) technology to manage information about its distribution transformers. "All the data is kept in there, including transformer ratings and how much they cost," stated Bhaji Dhillon, a senior planning engineer with Cobb EMC.In fact, Cobb EMC's GIS technology provides...
  • Designing grid not really the problem
    ELECTRICAL NETWORK DESIGN IS A COMPLEX, CONTINUOUSLY EVOLVING process that, according to a recent survey by Sierra Energy Group (SEG), involves 115,000 individuals nationwide with about 55,000 of those working for utilities and more than 60,000 working for private engineering firms. Throw in others who specialize in substation design and some 20,000 who maintain geographical information records...
  • LVVWD smarts improve legacy network
    A CHAIN IS ONLY AS STRONG AS ITS WEAKEST LINK. OFTEN FORGOTTEN in the move to smarter grids and smarter networks is the need to strengthen the existing infrastructure. Whether for an electrical, gas or water utility, the rest of the network has to be upgraded to handle the smart components.At Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD), the new grid is helping to improve existing systems. "We've...
  • Dealing with interrelated comm networks
    "TELEPHONE" IS A GAME PLAYED BY CHILDREN AND USED BY COMMUNICATION experts to demonstrate how messages that are conveyed from person to person can become unreliable. In the game, a message is told to the first person, who then tells it to the next and so on through the group of many participants. When the message is received by the last person in the chain, it often differs greatly from the...
  • Hydro One looks at backhaul + last mile
    WHEN EXECUTIVES AT HYDRO ONE IN ONTARIO FIRST BEGAN TO RESEARCH how they would meet a government mandate to install smart meters for all customers by the end of 2010, they considered several networking options. The government-operated utility provides electricity to 1.3 million customers, many located in rural, out-of-the-way areas.Deciding on a technology infrastructure for its backhaul and last...
  • Interfaith program inspires consumers
    WE HAVE HEARD A LOT OF TALK ABOUT CONSUMER ENGAGEMENT THESE DAYS. And when the utility industry discusses energy consumers at a high level, it is most often talking about either business or residential consumers. But what about congregational energy consumers? Buddhists, Episcopalians, Swedenborgians, Roman Catholics, Muslims-and the list goes on and on-occupy more than 380,000 congregation...