Intelligent Utility Magazine July/August 2009
In This Issue
  • TOP 25 INTELLIGENT UTILITIES
    WELCOME TO THE INAUGURAL UTILIQ RANKING OF U.S. ELECTRIC utilities—a list of the top 25 intelligent utilities based on a detailed analysis by IDC Energy Insights and Intelligent Utility magazine. We developed this ranking in response to a number of issues and challenges in the rapidly evolving electric utility industry. First, we wanted to separate the smart grid hype from reality. As we have...
  • STIMULUS BOOSTS COOPERATIVE EFFORTS BETWEEN UTILITIES
    IN ORDER FOR A SMARTER GRID TO WORK, UTILITIES MUST BE OPEN TO working more closely with one another. With the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) earmarking $4.5 billion in funding for the smart grid, it appears as if the incentive to make this happen has just increased: a large portion of the grants will give priority to projects conducted at the local and regional levels....
  • DUKE, XCEL KEEP IT REAL
    THE INTELLIGENT UTILITY IS A NEBULOUS CONCEPT to most people. So Duke Energy set up a three-dimensional structure outside Cincinnati to simulate how the whole thing would work. Its Envision Center displays how automated equipment can enable the utility and its customers to communicate and save energy, especially during expensive periods of peak demand. It's all technologically feasible. But a key...
  • LES EVENT TO EXPLORE VALUE
    LINCOLN ELECTRIC SYSTEM (LES), WHICH SERVES Lincoln, Neb., has low electricity rates and a very reliable system. So why are they looking at a smart grid and a one-day event to help explain it?WHY A SMARTER GRID?The world is changing and according to J. Todd Hall, vice president of consumer services, LES needs to design a prudent vision to adapt to the rapidly changing environment. For example, ''...
  • CONSUMER FEEDBACK ON SMART GRID
    I SPEND A LOT OF TIME INTERVIEWING UTILITY customers in their homes—conversing with them about electric bills, new technologies and their outlook on the future. My interviewees are rich and poor, technically savvy and baffled by technology, big families and singles and retirees and students. They all use electricity and they're all willing to talk to a stranger about it.Across the last year, our...
  • MINNESOTA COOP ADOPTS TECHNOLOGY, NOT TERMINOLOGY
    SONJA BOGART IS A WELL-INFORMED UTILITY professional. Still, a bulk of the literature she peruses about the smart grid leaves her more confounded than informed.And at Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association, she's not alone with that sentiment. Fear of baffling members has prompted the Rockford, Minn.-based coop—serving two rural and suburban counties near the Twin Cities—to shy away...
  • COMMUNICATIONS PROFESSIONALS AROUND THE GLOBE are scurrying about looking for ways to leverage the phenomenal growth of social media outlets to accomplish business objectives. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and the like are multiplying so rapidly that no one knows exactly how many sites there are today. Some experts estimate 900, but each day brings more. Since most sites are...
  • NES, DUKE, SDG&E GET MORE SOCIAL
    SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS CONTINUE TO GAIN ACCEPTANCE as a viable way for utilities to reach customers for increased customer service and marketing efforts. PROMOTING CONSERVATION: NESWhen Nashville Electric Service (NES) wanted to promote a recent energy conservation event in conjunction with the Nashville Sounds minor league baseball team, the utility exercised many traditional public relations...
  • NES, DUKE, SDG&E GET MORE SOCIAL
    SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS CONTINUE TO GAIN ACCEPTANCE as a viable way for utilities to reach customers for increased customer service and marketing efforts. PROMOTING CONSERVATION: NESWhen Nashville Electric Service (NES) wanted to promote a recent energy conservation event in conjunction with the Nashville Sounds minor league baseball team, the utility exercised many traditional public relations...
  • CONNECTING THE UTILITY EDGE TO ITS CORE
    ASSUMING YOU DON'T LIVE UNDER A ROCK, YOU HAVE likely heard of or tried Twitter, the online microblogging service that enables users to broadcast short messages and status updates to their followers. The network effect and scale of Twitter means that participants are readily making connections to both their immediate followers, as well as the edges of their chosen communities of interest and...
  • CAREFULLY MANAGING RELATIONSHIPS HELPS PROJECTS SUCCEED
    WHEN IT COMES TO A SMARTER GRID, UTILITIES have been learning that success is about more than just technology. It's about people—people inside the utility and people outside.That is, in order for a project to succeed, it is important to have all of the internal departments on the same page and working together. These include administration, operations, engineering, IT and customer service....
  • AEP, TVA, BPA LOOKING AT POSSIBILITIES
    THANKS TO A HEIGHTENED INTEREST IN ALL THINGS STIMULUS-FOCUSED, phasor measurement unit (PMU) technology, which had been advancing steadily in the background, has now been shoved into the spotlight.With the announcement of available stimulus funding for the deployment of PMU technology within the transmission system infrastructure and for local or regional synchrophasor demonstration projects,...
  • CL&P PROTECTS WITH A PUSH OF A BUTTON
    WHEN FIRE HIT A RURAL CONNECTICUT HOME AND A DOWNED POWER LINE endangered response teams, the actions of Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) were anything but routine. With residents trapped inside the burning building, firefighters didn't have to wait the seemingly interminable minutes it would normally take for a utility crew to arrive and cut the electricity. Instead, in a control room...
  • FORDHAM UNIVERSITY STEPS UP PARTICIPATION
    THE NORTHEAST BLACKOUT OF 2003 WAS A MAJOR WAKEUP CALL FOR electricity consumers from Cleveland to Ontario, many of whom were left without power for almost two days. Fordham University's two New York City campuses—our original Rose Hill campus in the Bronx and the Lincoln Center campus in the heart of the city—managed to get by, by using backup diesel generators. But the event left us thinking...
  • Benny Phillips, facilities manager with associated wholesale grocers (AWG), took some time to talk with Intelligent Utility magazine about AWG's participation in a demand response program. AWG is a grocery distribution cooperative that serves over 1,700 retail member stores in 24 states. Why more actively participate in energy consumption?''We had a big push to better control our energy...
  • KCP&L CUSTOMERS SPEAK OUT
    WHILE UTILITIES ARE undertaking a variety of measures to better manage peak demand and contain costs, true energy management success hinges on the ability to actively engage and interact with residential and commercial customers.Technologies like in-home displays and smart thermostats can help facilitate utility-to-customer interaction to share actionable energy data. This information can help...
  • COMED AND BLACK HILLS TALK VALUE
    AS THE THREE PREVIOUS ARTICLES DEMONSTRATE, CUSTOMERS ARE finding new ways to connect with their utilities—with or without a smart meter. However, smart meters bring along new opportunities to engage consumers. I talked with ComEd and Black Hills Energy about their strategies for interacting with consumers through smart meters. Each utility's approach and timeline varies, but operations and...
  • FIELD WORKER TOOLKITS INCLUDE MORE THAN YOUR GRANDFATHER'S WIRE PLIERS
    AS U.S. UTILITIES CONTINUE A QUARTER-CENTURY PROCESS OF building more intelligent organizations and smart grids, they are using and adapting technological tools to push those ''smarts'' further into the field. At the most advanced utilities—and not all utilities have progressed at the same rate—the average lineman on a pole may be equipped more like an astronaut than the average hardhat working...
  • SECO ENERGY'S MV TRAINING FOCUSED ON TECHNICAL AND SOCIAL ASPECTS
    WE ARE WELL ON OUR WAY TO MODERNIZING THE SKILLS OF OUR FIELD personnel, but it has been a long time in the making. Founded in 1938, SECO Energy, one of the largest electric distribution coops in the United States with 167,000 central Florida customers, got an official mapping/drafting department in 1960. Then, in 1988, the department received its first computer. By 1996, we started doing...
  • NNEC turns field crews into telecommuters
    From truck-mounted laptops to mobile laptops to smart phones Northern Neck Electric Cooperative (NNEC) in Warsaw, Va. has come a long way in the last couple of years. ''We have made our field crews into telecommuters,'' said Mike Hyde, customer information systems (CIS) and IT manager.At first, like many utilities, NNEC outfitted its crew vehicles with truck-mounted laptops as a way for the crews...
  • DTE focuses on scalability for AMI
    Robert Sitkauskas is manager of DTE Energy's advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) project. DTE Energy began installing meters for a 10,000-meter gas and electric pilot on the island community of Grosse Ile, Mich., in September 2008. Sitkauskas reports that the pilot is nearly complete, with only 150 meters yet to be installed. ''The pilot has provided many opportunities for learning—the...
  • IP ahead, but no network designed for it
    In the world of a smarter grid, all communications connections will be paved with IP. The use of that networking protocol will enable vendors to lower their product costs and will help companies manage a wider array of devices from a central console. ''The benefits of using IP are so great that every equipment and software supplier is moving to it,'' said Raj Vaswani, chief technical officer,...
  • Cisco tries to make a splash in Miami with FPL
    A $500 million technology investment by Florida Power & Light (FPL) called Energy Smart Miami will enable the utility's customers to get proactive about energy consumption. FPL's new, IP-based program will allow customers to view their energy consumption online daily. Smart meters that will be installed at residences and businesses as part of the project will give customers the chance to...
  • SMARTER PHONES A MODEL FOR UTILITIES
    IN A PERFECT WORLD, RADIO FREQUENCY TRAVELING FREELY THROUGH the air to communicate eliminates the need for more expensive physical infrastructure. As new wireless devices enter the marketplace, with broader applications like latest versions of iPhone and BlackBerry, everyone wonders where the wireless trajectory will take us. Many people see IP for voice and data as a universal, inexpensive...
  • DURING DEEP DISCUSSIONS OF PRESENT AND FUTURE ENERGY THEORY, IT'S often been noted that initiating and implementing smart grid and intelligent utility projects involve extended processes that center on human relationships, and the capability of various entities to work conjunctively toward a specific goal—even if through different means, as interpreted through different viewpoints.In fact, an...
  • SRP & NYPA BUILD INTERNAL SMART GRID TEAMS
    JEFF YOUNGER IS SALT RIVER PROJECT'S (SRP) newest investment in a smarter grid. Younger joined the utility 10 years ago, but just recently started working as an assistant project manager, pushing forward SRP's smart grid initiative. Younger is now just one more cog in the project's smart grid leadership machinery. ''You have to have dedicated resources to follow your smart grid...