5.5 Million Smart Grid Stimulus to MGE Customers

Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) is receiving a $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. MGE will use the grant to install technologies to boost efficiency, enhance service and improve reliability for customers.

The stimulus grant will help fund the following projects, which will begin next month:

Advanced metering infrastructure

MGE will install meters capable of two-way communication for all large commercial and industrial customers. The equipment monitors and analyzes customers’ energy consumption patterns on an hourly, daily and seasonal basis. The information will be used to educate customers about their energy use and how they can conserve energy and lower emissions. The meters also will be used for outage notification and tracking power quality.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles support

MGE will also install a network of up to 18 public and 25 residential charging stations for electric and electric hybrid vehicles in the Madison area. MGE will study the impacts of vehicle charging on the electric power grid and on home energy use and demand.  

Distribution management

MGE will also install new distribution/management capabilities. During an outage, MGE system operators will be able to quickly identify the best options for restoring and rerouting power to reduce outage times.

MGE generates and distributes electricity to 138,000 customers in Dane County, Wis., and purchases and distributes natural gas to 142,000 customers in seven south-central and western Wisconsin counties. MGE’s parent company is MGE Energy (Nasdaq: MGEE). The company’s roots in the Madison area date back more than 150 years.

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Cisco launches router , switch for smart grids

This gallery contains 2 photos.

The networking giant plans to release two pieces of equipment–a router and a network switch–aimed at helping utilities create better communication systems designed not only to help automate electrical substations, but someday connect “smart meters” in homes and variable sources … Continue reading

Test Drive of the week: Smart Fortwo

The car is a small, compact two-seater. It is easy to get into and feels spacious inside.
The interior is not really basic; it feels slightly luxurious. The upholstery was a nice patterned grey colour and the dashboard and side doors were also shades of grey.

The dashboard is very clean and easy to read. The GPS seems quite sophisticated and is inlaid, like a TV set.

It starts up just like a normal car. There are only three speeds: neutral, drive and reverse–very simple. You don’t have to press very hard to accelerate. The car will go from 0 to 30mph in 6.5 seconds, and has an electronically limited top speed of 60 mph. Of course, there is no sound when driving since it is electric.

It drives easily and responsively. We drove on a test track with lots of winding roads and a traffic-free straight away and it was a peppy, but not really speedy, ride.

It has a lithium battery which is included in the cost price and should last 8 to 10 years. It also has ESP, ABS brakes two airbags and seat belt pre-tensioners, and also features a NCAP tested tridion safety cell. It is air-conditioned which is a nice, although not that necessary, plus. The 30kW electric motor is built by Zytek Automotive, a UK technology company.

As the first step of its electric drive program, smart has been running 100 demonstration vehicles in the United Kingdom since 2007. The series production of the smart fortwo electric drive has now started with 1,000 vehicles, which will be run in both Europe- starting by the end of 2009- and the United States- starting in the second half of 2010 in several cities. The series production in large numbers will start for model year 2012 vehicles, which can be bought in all smart centers.

The smart fortwo electric drive will be equipped with a 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery powering a 30 kW motor positioned over the rear drive wheels. The battery can be charged with either 100V or 220V systems and will require between 3.5 and 8 hours of charging time, depending on the voltage used and the starting state of the battery charge. An 85 mile range is anticipated.

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Knoxville, TN Upgrades Infrastructure with Smart Grid Technology

Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB), an electric, gas, water and wastewater service provider, will upgrade and enhance its existing network infrastructure with smart grid technology from Intergraph. With the Intergraph Smart Grid Operations Command-and-Control Center, KUB will consolidate and streamline network operations, leading to increased accuracy, efficiency and reliability.

The new smart grid solution will integrate Intergraph outage management system (OMS) and mobile workforce management (MWFM) technology with SCADA and alarm functionality to simplify the presentation of complex data and improve situational awareness for grid operators. It will be used to manage and control the electric distribution network, as well as dispatch work orders for the utility’s natural gas and water systems.

“As an existing user of Intergraph’s InService technology for outage and mobile workforce management, we had already experienced firsthand the efficiency benefits that can be achieved through the company’s geospatially-powered utilities solutions,” said Barry Jones, representative for KUB’s outage and mobile workforce system. “By upgrading to Intergraph’s InService 8.2, we will be adding smart grid functionality to our command-and-control infrastructure to more easily pinpoint problem areas on our network and remediate potential outages before they occur.”

In addition to integrating SCADA and alarm functionality into its grid, KUB will also work with Intergraph to develop a wall board display of its full electric distribution system that will dynamically depict outage information and additional network data. By incorporating all of these functions into a single user interface, KUB’s system operators will no longer have to rely on multiple displays to accomplish their tasks and keep the network up and running. The system will also prevent information overload during major storm situations.

“Intergraph is a leader in enabling utilities to quickly visualize the operational state of their networks, including abnormal device conditions and outage types and locations, and respond accordingly to eliminate outages and reduce outage time,” said Jay Stinson, vice president of Utilities & Communications at Intergraph. “By consolidating key grid functions into a single user interface, utilities like KUB can stay a step ahead of outages, work more efficiently and provide safer, more reliable service to customers.”

Further information can be found at Intergraph website and KUB website.

Mitsubishi plugs in smart grid project

Mitsubishi Electric on Monday said it will invest about $76 million in a smart-grid project, part of a companywide push into equipment for modernizing the electricity grid.

The company will create two installations–a residential-size building and a commercial facility–which will have on-site power generation through photovoltaic panels and local energy storage with rechargeable batteries. The flow of energy will be managed and optimized by power electronics and smart meters to test the performance of the equipment.

Mitsubishi Electric said the projects are part of a corporatewide push to supply smart-grid technologies for the electric power industry and meet global demand for low-carbon energy.

In one experiment, Mitsubishi Electric will set up a mini-power station built around a four-megawatt solar array. It will include equipment, such as switches and smart meters, to manage the flow of energy and a battery.

The residential-scale system will feature a 200-kilowatt photovoltaic array with a home energy-management system, which uses a smart meter and network-connected appliances.

The home system recalls work being done by Panasonic in this area. The industrial giant is developing a line of energy systems for the home, including energy-efficient TVs and appliances, solar panels, batteries, fuel-cell hot water heating systems, and a home energy-management dashboard.

Samsung, another company well known for its electronics, last week announced that it plans to invest $20 billionin energy and health care over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, an executive from battery supplier BYD said last month that the company plans to supply a combination of equipment, including solar panels and batteries, to homeowners.

Data collected from these various research sites will be used to develop new products and architectures that could enhance the performance of existing Smart Grid technologies. Mitsubishi is placing particular emphasis on the photovoltaic segment of its business. It has identified China, India, North America and Southeast Asia as regions to target.

Several major Japanese corporations have taken a greater interest in the Smart Grid recently, including Toshiba (which landed a relevant partnership with SunPower in early March), Zhimizu and Kyocera. And South Korean giant Samsung also just announced that it will sink $20.6 billion into green technologies, with a special focus on solar.

But Smart Grid efforts aren’t only heating up in Asia. At the end of last month, General Electric joined forces with Nissan to research the impact electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles may have on national electric grids — and how predicted grid overload crises may be averted. Other U.S. corporations like Cisco Systems, IBM, Intel and Microsoft have also been vocal about offering Smart Grid products to utilities and homeowners alike.

However, with consumer-friendly plug-in cars like Nissan’s Leaf and General Motors’ Chevy Volt preparing to launch as early as this year, it seems like Smart Grid solutions to major challenges are needed now — not in several years.

Some analysts say that less than 10 electric cars on the same block could cause power outages. If this is true, Mitsubishi, General Electric, and the rest will need to race electric vehicle market adoption to make sure the grid can handle the next generation of transportation. This sounds dicier than it should be.

World’s leading provider of 4G now into Smart Grid

The world’s leading provider of 4G WiMAX and wireless broadband solutions, is showcasing its best-of-breed award-winning 4G WiMAX infrastructure and optimized smart grid connectivity solutions at UTC Telecom 2010 May 23 — 26 in Indianapolis. Alvarion will highlight its market leading 4G WiMAX technology which ensures low latency, QoS, scalable, real-time and secure broadband communication for mission critical grid devices.

Alvarion Smart Grid Session: Alvarion’s Eedo Liftshitz, director business development, will be part of a session discussing “4G WiMAX for the smart grid — why WiMAX?” being moderated by Monica Paolina, from Senza Fili. This session will take place on Monday, May 24 from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. in Room 108 and will focus on the smart grid solution implementation, specifically addressing wireless architecture, communications infrastructure and end-to-end system integration. The panel will also include vendor experts on smart meters, distribution automation, smart meter aggregation and end-to-end system integration to provide the perspective of the entire ecosystem.

Alvarion will also participate in a panel discussion on Tuesday, May 25 from 3:00 — 4:15 p.m. in room 104 titled “4G emerging technologies — what’s right for you? – Part 2.” This panel discussion, hosted by Ashish Sharma, vice president of marketing for Alvarion, will provide an opportunity to ask questions about the next generation technologies from equipment manufacturers, carriers and utilities.

Alvarion’s broad portfolio of wireless solutions is ideally suited to build the next generation smart grid infrastructure. The industry leading portfolio includes WiMAX products for licensed, license-exempt, and 3.65 GHz quasi-licensed frequencies, point-to-point and point-to-multipoint license-exempt broadband wireless products, license-exempt backhaul products and a variety of end user devices for fixed and mobile services. Alvarion’s all IP solutions provide advanced features such as low latency, enhanced coverage and capacity, enhanced security based on standardized WiMAX protocol and quality of service. Because of the all IP nature, these solutions can be easily scaled and result in a very quick network rollout.

“Our all-IP end-to-end 4G WiMAX and wireless broadband portfolio for smart grid connectivity exemplifies innovation and leadership in this growing market,” said Ashish Sharma. “As the utilities look to create their smart grid architecture, our field proven solution based on the latest 4G technology will provide them with an optimal business case.”

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Smart Grid Revolution Starts With Big-Electron Storage

The paradigm of the “smart grid” has been embraced eagerly by everyone from staid old utilities to Silicon Valley venture capitalists, from startups and industrial giants to the Department of Energy, with its generous stimulus grants for the development. Why not? Who wouldn’t want to go from the ostensible dumb grid to a smart one? Easy sell.

Big opportunities for everyone in a transformative electric network: for consumers to make smarter energy decisions, vendors to sell smart hardware and software, utilities to optimize their assets and get green “cred,” and of course, for investors to facilitate and benefit from both real and frothy growth. Win-win all around. Bigger, greener, better, smarter.

So will the electric grid come to resemble the architecture of the Internet’s pervasive communications grid? It can and it will, but not entirely for the reasons proffered by smart grid cognoscenti. You need to know just two things–two macro trends–to know why the smart grid is coming, and will be a big secular trend. First is the rising use of electricity and collateral radical increase in its importance. Second are the technologies to make the grid smarter have come of age, and just in time.

First, the demand. More than 70% of U.S. energy is used for non-transportation purposes, with the majority (60%) of all non-transport needs being met with electrons. The use of energy in the form of electricity (measured in “barrels of oil equivalent” per year) has risen 75% in the past 30 years. The Energy Information Administration forecasts the trend continuing for another 30 years. Energy used for all other purposes (again, excluding cars, planes and trains, which for context use about 5 BBOE per year) has been essentially flat for three decades and will stay essentially flat, even as the U.S. economy has grown, and is forecast to grow.

Global spending on electric transport (transmission and distribution infrastructure) already runs about $100 billion annually, with the U.S. accounting for 20% of that market. It’s an easy bet on this macro; a lot more money will be spent on electric grids. That’s pretty much all you need to know to bet on this sector, but there’s more. Add to this trend the imperative to achieve more efficiency from the electric system, reliably and securely. This can only come from adding more smarts to the grid. Growth will be proportionally faster on new technologies to add smarts to the old.

The smart grid flow of data must be protected from hacker’s eyes

Unlike the traditional power grid, a “smart” grid is designed to accommodate a two-way flow of both electricity and data. This creates great promise, including lower energy prices, increased use of renewable resources and, it is hoped, fewer brownouts and blackouts. But a smart grid also poses several potential security problems—networked meter data, power companies’ computers and those of customers could all be vulnerable to tampering.

A smart grid adds a layer of cybersecurity complexity to challenges that already existed with the traditional grid. In the past, a lot of cybersecurity efforts have focused on securing the bulk transmission system—from the utility company’s generating plants to its substations—because those locations are where the worst-case scenario could happen: a large regional blackout, says Don Von Dollen, a program manager at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a Calif.-based non-profit research center. The bulk transmission system remains the top security priority, but with the dawn of the smart grid, power companies now have to think more about protecting the network connections they have with individual customers’ homes, he adds.

With such scenarios in mind, NIST’s Smart Grid Interoperability Panel–Cyber Security Working Group (SGIP–CSWG) in February released the second draft of its Smart Grid Cyber Security Strategy and Requirements, a 305-page document the agency expects to issue formally by July. It identifies potential vulnerabilities and outlines “recommended requirements” that the North American Electricity Reliability Corporation (NERC) can choose to add to its critical infrastructure protection standards. These measures to protect the grid from cyber-tampering would be enforced by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

NIST’s cybersecurity group draws its recommendations from a well-rounded core of more than 400 experts, including those from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, as well as volunteers from academia, law firms, IT and telecommunication companies, and independent security specialists. Aerospace manufacturer Boeing and network technology provider Cisco Systems each have an employee serving as vice-chair of the group.
The document is short on answers regarding exactly how to solve these problems. “This is a starting point. It’s meant to give high-level requirements, not solutions,” says Lee. Rather, the intent is to get government agencies, utility companies and other businesses thinking more about security problems they may not previously have considered when components of the electrical grid were not hooked up to computer networks. NIST notes in this latest draft that without R&D advances to network security, local attacks can become distributed or cascading large-scale attack campaigns.

SmartMeters for your home

Agilewaves constantly monitors electric, gas and water use and provides accurate consumption and carbon footprint information in real-time, from any web enabled device, from anywhere in the world. The system intelligence can send automatic notifications of leaks, excessive energy use or carbon emissions via email or text messaging, and can seamlessly communicate with home control systems.

measuring the ecological footprint of a property in real-time, the technology can monitor each individual circuit, water line, and gas appliance. The flexible system can also track other factors such as temperature/humidity, output from solar PV, performance of solar or geo-thermal water heating, indoor air quality and even living architecture. Current and historical information is automatically stored allowing powerful trend analysis and comparative features to be easily displayed across any time period. The system, custom-designed for larger buildings and higher-end homes, needs to be installed by an electrician and can also be used to dim lights, turn on and off heating and cooling, and adjust smart appliances.

What’s included on the system?

A basic system is turn-key and includes all the associated sensors, hardware and pre-configured software to monitor main water, main gas, and main electric plus 7 additional individual circuits of your choice (equipment, appliances, lights, sub-panels, etc). This is a suggested system starting point only and the system can easily be refined to monitor additional electric, gas or water points of use, as well as indoor air quality, solar, geo-thermal, green living roofs, climate and more

how is it installed?

Sensors are mounted and wired back to an Agilewaves Sensor Integration Panel (ASIP). The electrical sensors mount directly in the circuit breaker panel(s), so do not require invasive installation within the home or building. The gas, water and other sensors are installed at their monitoring point and wired back to the nearest ASIP. In some cases, Agilewaves may be able to gather data from existing “communicating” utility meters or equipment, avoiding the need for additional sensors. Wireless is an option, but only used as a last resort.Agilewaves can communicate with smart meters also.

visit Agilewaves at http://www.agilewaves.com/ to learn about prices and how to order it.

Communities in California install SmartMeters, first step: Orange County

Southern California Edison (SCE) will install smart electric meters throughout communities in Orange County as part of the Edison SmartConnect program.

SCE customers in those communities will receive new meters starting this week through June. Communities in the upcoming installation phase include: Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Midway City, Seal Beach, Sunset Beach and Westminster.

Ken Devore, director of Edison SmartConnect program at SCE, said: “Over the past several years, we have focused on developing an industry-leading smart meter program, including extensive testing of our smart meters and associated systems to ensure their quality and performance.

“Smart meters will empower our customers to become better managers of their electricity usage through new tools, programs and services that will help them save energy, money, and the environment.”

Within the next year, SCE will introduce new pricing plans, programs and services that will empower customers to make informed decisions about their energy use. In the second half of 2010 and beyond, once the advanced features are fully activated, the meters will be enabled to communicate with the next generation of smart thermostats, appliances and other devices, the company said.

The first smart meter in the Edison SmartConnect program was installed last September in Downey, California, with installations continuing through 2012 to total nearly five million SCE residential and small-business customers in the utility’s service territory. To date, SCE has installed approximately 600,000 meters.

SCE has contracted with Corix Utilities to perform most of the installations. Edison SmartConnect is a $1.6bn program authorized by the California Public Utilities Commission.

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