Intelligent Utility Magazine September/October 2010
In This Issue
  • Ameren is a critical linchpin
    Integrating transmission: Ameren is a critical linchpin
    AMONG ELECTRIC UTILITIES AND THEIR OWNERSHIP organizations, some serve extensive geographies and therefore become more involved in high-voltage transmission, moving large quantities of electricity from points of generation to load centers within their service areas, as well as transmitting electricity to other areas on a market basis.A good example of one such utility organization is St. Louis-...
  • Westar is serious about customer engagement
    AH, I LOVE MY HOME STATE OF KANSAS. THE ROLLING HILLS (yes, Kansas has hills), the Wizard of Oz, the tasty barbeque—and the laid-back Midwestern humor. The folks at Westar Energy—a utility headquartered in Topeka, Kan., that employs 2,400 people and serves more than 684,000 customers in east and east-central Kansas—not only understood my humor, but also understood a critical factor in the success...
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  • At SRP, operations retains control over IT support
    The IT vs. OT debate: At SRP, operations retains control over IT support
    AT THE SALT RIVER PROJECT, OPERATIONS TENDS TO KEEP information technology under close control.And that stance—whether representative of large numbers of utilities or specific to SRP—appears to reflect an IT evolution yet to reach fruition and the rigorous demands of the operational mandate for safety and reliability.“The model SRP has used for many years is one in which there’s a corporate IT...
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  • Power, communications and IT on the smart grid
    THE SMART GRID PROMISES VARIED AND UNPRECEDENTED benefits, ranging from consumer choice and utility efficiency to electricity reliability and environmental impact. All of them are predicated on the coming together of power, communications and information technologies.Moving from today’s fragmented electrical delivery system to the next-generation smart grid is not, however, simply a story of...
  • A convergence of technology, communications, computing and energy systems amps up the game
    The changing face of the utility workforce
    THE SIMPLE DAYS ARE LONG GONE.The electric utility industry is in a period of dramatic transformation, and for its personnel, this means a thorny balance of more complex systems, an aging workforce and an aging infrastructure. The new knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) required are far different from those of even a decade ago.More reliance on technology, as well as the convergence of...
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  • DTE + SCE turn to solar opportunities
    Utilities continue to find innovative energy sources
    UTILITIES CONTINUE TO FIND INNOVATIVE WAYS TO AVOID building out new infrastructure—or at least to delay the cost of doing so. More often than not, those strategies involve turning to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, fuel cells and advanced energy storage.Utilities are discovering that it pays handsome dividends to delay or outright eliminate capital expenditures for things like...
  • AEC continues to integrate SCADA after 30 years
    THERE AREN'T MANY TECHNOLOGIES THAT STICK AROUND long enough to improve with age. In today’s fast-paced digital world, technologies change rapidly and often become obsolete in months. Just witness the electronics market, where cell phone upgrades occur on what seems like a 24-7 basis.But like a fine wine, SCADA—which stands for supervisory control and data acquisition—seems to get more robust...
  • Progress Energy implements automated vegetation management system
    IF A TREE FALLS IN A FOREST AND NO ONE HEARS IT, DOES IT make a sound? That riddle was posed by the 19th century philosopher George Berkeley to explore questions about observation and the knowledge of reality—two subjects close to the heart of vegetation managers.If a tree falls on a transmission line, the utility operator will immediately experience the reality of complaints. Not just from...
  • Utilities are in good shape, industry experts say
    Compliance strategies developed: Utilities are in good shape, experts say
    WE ALL FACE DEADLINES, AND UTILITIES faced a major one in June as they were required to achieve compliance with a range of cyber security standards passed down by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) more than two years ago.The eight critical infrastructure protection (CIP) standards 002–009 are intended to ensure the protection and reliability of critical cyber assets...
  • An attractive two-way street for utilities
    Sharing right of ways: An attractive two-way street for utilities
    AS CITIES AND TOWNS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES STRUGGLE with budgetary problems, the concept of shared services is proving to be a useful tool. Crossing jurisdictional lines is often difficult for political reasons, but when intelligently managed, sharing can result in dramatic savings without denigrating services, and can even improve them. Municipalities that have pooled into a county purchasing...
  • Will regulators or consumers take the lead?
    THE TRANSFORMATION MAY NOW BE gradual. But it will gather steam and change the way utilities produce and deliver their electricity.If done properly, the smart grid that enables such progress could have profound implications. The movement is just now getting its legs. But just how it stabilizes and gains footing is a matter of debate: Some say it will be consumer demand. Others say that regulators...
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  • Managing the information is key to realizing full smart grid benefits
    Smart Meters and the coming data deluge
    THE MOVE TO THE SMART GRID RESULTS IN A PARADIGM shift regarding metering data. Currently, most utilities create monthly files of meter reads (using manual collection) and submit them to the billing system. With the smart grid, utilities are transformed from distributors of power to brokers of information that handle millions of data transactions every day. For a utility this means that the...
  • Consumers and regulators turn up the heat on utilities
    Smart grid resistance: Consumers and regulators turn up the heat on utilities
    IT’S BEEN A LONG, HOT SUMMER IN MORE ways than the obvious one.At both ends of the country, consumers and regulators have been turning up the heat on their electric utilities’ smart grid projects.In southern California, Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation has most recently seen pushback from customers in the town of Fairfax and in Marin County (the greater area in which Fairfax is contained)....
  • Sisyphus and his boulder had nothing on utilities
    Utilities and cyber security
    A QUIET BUT UNDENIABLE TRUTH: ELECTRIC utilities don’t like to discuss cyber security incidents. But with the emergence this summer of the Stuxnet SCADA worm, apparently spawned by USB sticks used as the attack vector to spread the malicious code targeting Siemens SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) management systems, it’s become even more imperative that some kind of discussion be...
  • Xcel CIO discusses IT’S evolving relationships within the utility
    RECENTLY, I HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO INTERVIEW Dave Harkness, vice president and CIO for Xcel Energy, Inc., which serves 3.4 million electricity customers in eight Western and Midwestern states.Harkness, who will be participating in Energy Central’s Knowledge 2010, talked about IT’s evolving relationships within the utility, about transforming data into actionable intelligence and about the advent...
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