Sponsor Content Insight from GE. As power outages go, the iguana affair was a mundane one. On July 27, a hapless lizard shorted a piece of electrical equipment in the middle of the Florida Keys and knocked out power for 11,000 local residents. It was an act of nature no outage prevention system would have been able to predict. But since the lizard climbed inside a substation, repair crews were able to locate the short and restore power in 10 minutes. “Spotting problems within the limited space of a substation is relatively easy,” says Chris Prince, application engineer at GE Digital Energy. “It’s a high-density nerve center for distributing power. But good luck finding and fixing a problem that fast when it happens along the miles of overhead and underground lines connecting the substation to the consumers.” In an era when a smartphone can quickly pinpoint its location on a map, few power providers know that customers lost electricity before somebody calls them. Fewer still can see whether the outage was caused by a fallen tree branch, a lightning or faulty equipment. Americans are taking notice. A new survey measuring public perception of grid resiliency found that many respondents were willing to pay $10 per month on top of their electricity bill to make sure that the grid becomes more reliable (see the results here). The survey, which was commissioned by GE’s Digital Energy business, also found that a majority wanted utilities to start using digital communications and social media tools to keep them informed in real time during a power outage. “Consumers want to see investment in technology that prevents power outages and reduces the time it takes to turn power back on,” says John McDonald, director of technical strategy and policy development at GE Digital Energy. Utilities are getting the message. As wireless networks became more ubiquitous, power companies started placing digital sensors along its lines and inside switches, breakers, smart meters and other devices. The sensors feed grid data to data collection centers where algorithms process it to create a virtual map of the distribution network. Prince says that the network map resembles a tree where the transmission lines that come from the power generation plants are the roots and the substation is the trunk. “The feeder circuits that reach out through neighborhoods to residential customers are the branches where we’ve traditionally had the least visibility,” he says. Prince says that an outage event could be due to a single cause or multiple causes nested together. This makes the prime cause harder to find. But digital systems that connect the grid to the Industrial Internet and string together smart sensors, controls, and software can quickly detect and locate trouble, and then isolate a likely problem area along the right branch. “Instead of telling the crew to patrol miles of a line, I can narrow the location to a block or two,” he says. “At the same time, the control system will quickly restore power to the other lines leading from the trunk that did not suffer any damage, and bring power back to those customers sooner.” McDonald says that a number of utilities have already started implementing automation on the feeder lines where they see the most value. NSTAR, for example, brings electricity to 1.1 million customers living in central and eastern Massachusetts. Starting in 2009, the company reached out to GE and started building a “self-healing” grid. Today the system consists of 2,000 smart switches and 5,000 voltage and current sensors. The system was already tested by Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. During Irene, 500,000 customers lost power but the system was able to reroute it and turn the lights back on for close to half of them within an hour. NSTAR calculates that the new grid visibility has allowed it avoid 600,000 customer outages so far. “The concept of grid monitoring has been around for decades,” McDonald says. “But the advances in big data, software, fiber optics and digital wireless communications now really bring it alive.” Not even lizards can stop it. See how GE can give you the edge: gesoftware.com/solutions/intelligent-environments
Eversource Energy's (ES) first-quarter earnings and total revenues surpassed estimates.
President Barack Obama met behind closed doors with energy executives Wednesday in a session the White House said was arranged to discuss the industry's response to Hurricane Sandy last year and preparations for this year's hurricane season. "The President thanked the utility executives for their efforts during the response to Hurricane Sandy and noted the strong working relationship demonstrated between industry and the federal government as companies worked to restore power to millions of customers in Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern States, including the resources and personnel shared to assist these efforts by a number of companies who were outside of the affected region," the White House said in a read-out of the meeting. (PHOTOS: Hurricane Sandy) The White House did not respond to queries from POLITICO about why the public and press were excluded from the discussion, which took place at the Energy Department. During Obama's first bid for the White House, the freshman senator complained about then-Vice President Dick Cheney's private meetings with energy industry representatives. "The oil companies were allowed to craft energy policy with Dick Cheney in secret while every other voice was silenced including the NASA scientists who tried to warn us about the dangers of climate change," Obama said in a June 2007 campaign speech. "When there are meetings between lobbyists and a government agency, we won't be going to the Supreme Court to keep it secret like Dick Cheney and his energy task force, we'll be putting it up on the Internet for every American to watch." (Also on POLITICO: Senate energy panel passes bills) Edison Electric Institute President Tom Kuhn told POLITICO's Darren Goode that Obama was at the meeting for 35 to 40 minutes. Goode reports the session included some discussions of regulatory relief, such as clearing away red tape and granting "transportation waivers" for repair crews during storm responses. While the meeting was closed to press coverage, it was included on Obama's public schedule for Wednesday. The White House also released a list of the industry attendees, including Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and energy policy adviser Heather Zichal. A list of the industry participants follows: Tom Kuhn EEI David Owens EEI Brian Wulff EEI Jo Ann Emerson NRECA Joe Nipper APPA Joy Ditto APPA Jim Burpee Canadian Electric Association Nick Akins AEP Tony Alexander FirstEnergy John Bilda Norwich, CT Kevin Burke ConEd Mel Coleman North Arkansas Electric Corp. Chris Crane Exelon Anita Decker BPA Ken DeFontes BGE Leo Denault Entergy Charles Freni Central Hudson Mark Gabriel WAPA Lew Hay NextEra Energy Tom King National Grid Bob Kump Iberdrola Ralph LaRossa PSE&G Ron Litzinger Southern California Edison Len McMillan Hydro One Lee Olivier NSTAR Paul Pallas Rockville Centre, NY Mary Powell Green Mountain Power Bob Powers AEP Gil Quiniones NYPA Joe Rigby PEPCO Eric Silagy Florida Power & Light Bill Spence PPL Jim Torgerson UIL Holdings Keith Trent Duke Energy Geisha Williams PGE Corps Rod West Entergy
Today, the President, joined by senior members of his response team, attended a meeting with electric utility executives and trade association representatives at the Department of Energy to discuss lessons learned during the response to Hurricane Sandy, as well as discuss ongoing preparations for the 2013 hurricane season which begins June 1st. In the meeting, the President thanked the utility executives for their efforts during the response to Hurricane Sandy and noted the strong working relationship demonstrated between industry and the federal government as companies worked to restore power to millions of customers in Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern States, including the resources and personnel shared to assist these efforts by a number of companies who were outside of the affected region. The President discussed that in the wake of major disasters like Hurricane Sandy extended power outages can have major impacts on communities and recovery efforts, and that beyond the lifesaving and life sustaining efforts which are the immediate priority in any response, one of the most important steps is power restoration. In the meeting, utility executives discussed lessons learned during the Hurricane Sandy response that the industry and the federal government can apply to large power restoration efforts in the future. The President thanked them for their partnership in these efforts and for their work with his emergency response team to coordinate and share best practices. He made clear that his administration is committed to working closely with industry on suggestions that could further improve future response efforts. At the meeting the President was joined by Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Heather Zichal, Acting Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Patricia Hoffman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy Bill Bryan, Administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration Adam Sieminski and other members of his response team. A list of attendees is below: Tom Kuhn EEI David Owens EEI Brian Wolff EEI Jo Ann Emerson NRECA Joe Nipper APPA Joy Ditto APPA Jim Burpee Canadian Electric Association Nick Akins AEP Tony Alexander FirstEnergy John Bilda Norwich, CT Kevin Burke ConEd Mel Coleman North Arkansas Electric Corp. Chris Crane Exelon Anita Decker BPA Ken DeFontes BGE Leo Denault Entergy Charles Freni Central Hudson Mark Gabriel WAPA Lew Hay NextEra Energy Tom King National Grid Bob Kump Iberdrola Ralph LaRossa PSE&G Ron Litzinger Southern California Edison Len McMillan Hydro One Lee Olivier NSTAR Paul Pallas Rockville Centre, NY Mary Powell Green Mountain Power Bob Powers AEP Gil Quiniones NYPA Joe Rigby PEPCO Eric Silagy Florida Power & Light Bill Spence PPL Jim Torgerson UIL Holdings Keith Trent Duke Energy Geisha Williams PGE Corps Rod West Entergy
By Scott DiSavino March 19 (Reuters) - Cape Wind said Tuesday it expects to complete financing for its long-delayed 468-megawatt offshore wind farm and start construction of the project in federal water off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, by the end of the year. Cape Wind said in a statement it selected Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, a unit of Japanese bank holding company Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, as its coordinating lead arranger of the commercial bank portion of the debt financing for the project. The wind farm has been in development since 2001. Cape Wind has said some turbines could be in service in 2015. Energy experts have said it will cost about $2.6 billion to build the wind farm. Separately, the U.S. Department of Energy is considering a loan guarantee for the project. Cape Wind said it cannot say how much it is seeking from the DOE. BTMU is providing a significant amount of debt capital that will be used to pay for development and construction of the project, Cape Wind said. The company could not say how much BTMU was expected to raise. "Obtaining financing is one of the last steps to complete before proceeding with the construction of the project," said Jim Gordon, Cape Wind president. Several developers are working to become the first U.S. offshore wind farm, including Cape Wind and privately held Deepwater Wind, off Rhode Island. A unit of UK bank Barclays Plc will continue to advise Cape Wind on raising the remaining financing needed, Cape Wind said. Cape Wind has sold 77.5 percent of its power output in long-term power purchase agreements to the Massachusetts unit of National Grid Plc and Northeast Utilities' NSTAR unit, the two largest power companies in Massachusetts.
Authorities warn that further snowfall and freezing rain could hamper recovery efforts as transport networks face delaysMore than 100,000 people in the north-eastern US were still without power on Monday morning, as the clear-up from last week's historic snowstorm continued. Driving bans across the region were lifted on Sunday and public transport systems in Boston, New York and Connecticut were functioning, though with delays.Most of the power failures were in south-eastern Massachusetts and on Cape Cod, where around 35,000 people were still without electricity. NStar said 93,844 homes and businesses were affected, while National Grid reportedly had some 20,000 properties without power.Efforts to reconnect homes could be affected, however, by further snow which was predicted to fall on Monday. The National Weather Service said that between 2in and 4in was expected across northern areas of New England, gradually changing to sleet, freezing rain and rain.In southern New England warmer temperatures could add to the danger of collapsing roofs, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency warned. Flat or gently-sloped roofs were at greatest risk, officials said, although they cautioned people against attempting to clear their own homes. "We don't recommend that people, unless they're young and experienced, go up on roofs," said a spokesman, Peter Judge.In Boston, which received 24.9in of snow – the fifth-largest storm in the city's history – some public schools were closed on Monday. City officials encouraged commuters to use public transport to travel to work, as many roads are still unsafe, according to a local news station, WCVB. The Boston-area public transportation system partially resumed subway service and some bus routes on Sunday. Beverly Scott, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, told the Associated Press that a full service was expected on Monday, albeit with delays.Some schools were closed in Providence, Rhode Island and in eastern Long Island, which saw as much as 30in of snow. New York governor Andrew Cuomo said that more than a third of the state's snow-removal equipment had been sent to the area, including more than 400 plow trucks and more than 100 snowblowers, loaders and backhoes.At least 11 deaths in the US and four in Canada have been blamed on the snowstorm. Among the fatalities was an 11-year-old boy in Boston who had suffered carbon monoxide poisoning as he sat in a car with the engine running. Authorities said the vehicle's exhaust was covered by a snow bank, causing the fumes to collect inside.US weatherSnowMassachusettsConnecticutRhode IslandNew YorkCanadaBostonUnited StatesAdam Gabbattguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds