By - Jim Vess

Energy storage market up 60 percent over last year in second quarter of 2018

Energize Weekly, September 12, 2018 The U.S. energy storage market added 61.8 megawatts (MW) in the second quarter of 2018, a 42 percent increase over the first quarter, as demand for customer-owned batteries continued to grow, according to the Wood Mackenzie U.S. Energy Storage Monitor. Market growth year-over-year was up 60 percent, “thanks in large part to strong growth in

By - Jim Vess

PG&E battery project hits snag as it draws consumer and business protests

Energize Weekly, August 22, 2018 Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s (PG&E) battery program, which would be the world’s largest, has run into opposition from a California consumer advocate, and industrial and commercial customers. The California Office of Ratepayer Advocates and the Direct Access Customer Coalition, which represents “commercial, industrial and governmental customers who have opted for direct access for some

By - Jim Vess

Tri-State G&T co-ops pressure for lower prices and more renewables

Energize Weekly, August 15, 2018 Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which serves 43 electric cooperatives in four Western states, is getting pressure from some of its co-ops, which are seeking better electricity prices and more renewable energy. The Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, in Taos, New Mexico, has already paid $37 million to get out of its Tri-State contract, and several

By - Jim Vess

Dominion Energy offers a $918 million grid modernization plan to Virginia regulators

Energize Weekly, August 1, 2018 Dominion Energy has submitted a $918 million plan to modernize its Virginia grid to state regulators following passage of a new law overhauling utility oversight and investment. The plan seeks to install 1.4 million “smart meters” between 2019 and 2021. An additional 600,000 smart meters would be installed by 2023. A total of 3 gigawatts

By - Jim Vess

NREL study finds western grid held up as it lost 5.5 gigawatts of generation during solar eclipse

Energize Weekly, June 13, 2018 The western grid solar energy output dropped by nearly 5.5 gigawatts (GW) during last August’s solar eclipse, but the loss did not have a great impact on grid operations or costs, according to an analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). “The 2017 total solar eclipse came and went without causing any issues to

By - Jim Vess

New Englanders used more grid electricity while sleeping than at noon on a sunny, mild April day

Energize Weekly, June 6, 2018 In a regional first, on a mild, sunny April day, New Englanders used more electricity from the grid while they were sleeping than they did at midday, according to grid operator ISO New England (ISO-NE). The game changer on April 21 was the 2,400 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity in the region, most of which

By - Jim Vess

Regional grid operators brace for summer peak demand as hot weather is forecast

Energize Weekly, May 23, 2018 Regional grid operators are bracing for a hotter-than-normal summer, but say they are prepared to meet peak demand. PJM Interconnection, the nation’s largest grid, covering parts of the mid-Atlantic region and the Midwest, said it expects a summer peak of 150,000 megawatts (MW) as the National Weather Service is predicting above-normal temperatures in the District

By - Jim Vess

PJM says proposed closing of FirstEnergy nuclear plants will not impact grid reliability

Energize Weekly, May 9, 2018 PJM Interconnection, the operator of the grid and wholesale electric market covering portions of the mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions, said that the proposed closing of three nuclear power plants in its system will not threaten grid stability. FirstEnergy said it will close two financially struggling nuclear plants in Ohio and one in Pennsylvania—a total of

By - Jim Vess

Xcel gets federal approval to inspect transmission lines and infrastructure using drones

Energize Weekly, April 25, 2018 Xcel Energy has received the first approval in the country from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the ongoing use of drones to inspect transmission lines and infrastructure in Colorado, according to the company. FAA granted Xcel the okay to use unmanned drones, weighing less than 55 pounds, on a stretch of line 20 miles

By - Jim Vess

Markets with high levels of renewable generation show ways to maintain grid stability

Energize Weekly, March 28, 2018 As wind and solar generation grow, so too have questions about their impact on the reliability and resiliency of the grid. However, a study of markets around world with high levels of renewables has identified keys to keep the systems up and running. The question of grid resiliency gained added heft when U.S. Secretary of

By - Jim Vess

Where are the Drones?

By Jim Vess When I first posted about the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs), more commonly known as drones, about a year ago, the technology had experienced just limited use. At the time, only ComEd and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) had received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use UASs in a very limited capacity

By - Jim Vess

Canadian Companies See Opportunities South of the Border

By Jim Vess Canadian power companies looking to expand are seeing opportunities for growth in the U.S. market due to fast-growing power demand in certain regions of the country and the economically-favorable regulatory model for U.S. utility companies. Recently, Nova Scotia-based Emera Inc. agreed to acquire Florida-based TECO Energy Inc. for $10.4 billion. The announcement of the acquisition surprised many

By - Jim Vess

How Much Does Reliability Cost?

By Jim Vess Just this month the MISO Transmission Expansion Plan 2015 (MTEP15) was approved by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) board of directors. The plan, which represents $2.75 billion in new transmission investment, consists of 345 new projects that will support both reliability needs and congestion relief of the transmission system. The new transmission projects in MTEP15 are

By - Jim Vess

Getting Serious About Cybersecurity

By Jim Vess Threats to the nation’s electric grid will never go away. In the first half of this year, the Department of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) responded to 108 cyber incidents impacting critical infrastructure in the United States, with the energy sector having the most reported incidents. According to ICS-CERT, a third of

By - Jim Vess

GridLiance: Helping Out the Little Guy

By Jim Vess Most public power utilities – such as municipal utilities and cooperatives – have not been able to invest in and financially benefit from transmission projects because they lack the scale, planning infrastructure and regulatory influence to effectively participate in the Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) planning process. This inequality with larger investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in the planning of

By - Jim Vess

Utilities Take Different Approach to Grid Reliability and Peak Demand

By Jim Vess Traditionally when demand for power rises, to maintain system reliability utilities respond by adding generation capacity from so-called “peakers” – typically gas-fired units – which can be brought online relatively quickly. That is relatively quickly when compared to the time required to bring additional baseload generation online. Now some utilities are looking break from tradition by employing

By - Michael Drost

SPP bows out of Tres Amigas interconnection project

Energize Weekly, August 5, 2015 Tres Amigas, a $1.6 billion “SuperStation” project connecting three regional U.S. grids lost a key partner last week, after the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) decided to terminate an interconnection agreement between Tres Amigas and utility Southwestern Public Service Co (SPS), citing Tres Amigas’ inability to make payments or meet milestone agreements. According to Greentech Media,

By - Michael Drost

Report: Cyber attack on power grid could cost $1 trillion

Energize Weekly, July 22, 2015 The damage from a hack on the U.S. power grid could cost the nation’s economy more than $1 trillion, according to a new report by insurance market Lloyd’s and the University of Cambridge. The report, titled “Business Blackout”, envisions a “plausible but extreme” scenario where part of the U.S. electrical grid between New York and

By - Michael Drost

Report: Ratemaking subsidies could imperil grid reliability

Energize Weekly, July 15, 2015 A new study released by the Electric Markets Research Foundation says that the concept of affordable and reliable electricity for all might be imperiled due to subsidized ratemaking policies like net-metering, and that failure to mitigate the unintended consequences of integrating distributed generation resources like microgrids and rooftop solar could create a two-tiered electricity system.

By - Michael Drost

Missouri regulators block Grain Belt Express

Energize Weekly, July 8, 2015 Missouri utility regulators voted to reject the route of a $2.2 billion multistate high-voltage transmission line that would bring wind energy from Kansas to the Midwest, saying the line was not necessary for Missouri ratepayers. In a 3-2 vote, the state Public Service Commission (PSC) questioned whether the 750-mile Grain Belt Express (GBE) transmission system

By - Michael Drost

New York utilities embrace REV

Energize Weekly, July 1, 2015 A slew of New York utilities, including National Grid, Central Hudson Gas & Electric, and Iberdrola have announced new projects and initiatives to meet or exceed goals outlined in the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), which aims to modernize New York’s grid by increasing the competitiveness of renewable energy resources and by giving customers

By - Jim Vess

How Can You Get a Spare Transformer Yesterday?

By Jim Vess In its Quadrennial Energy Review just released in April, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) stressed the importance of a having inventory of spare high voltage (HV) transformers and other essential transmission equipment. The report said that current programs may not be adequate to address the vulnerability of the U.S. transmission grid to catastrophic events – such

By - Michael Drost

MISO: No shortfall after all

Energize Weekly, June 24, 2015 The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) is no longer predicting an energy shortfall next year, and should even have enough supplies to last through 2020, according to its latest survey of the Organization of MISO States. The survey predicts a minimum 1.7 gigawatt (GW) surplus in 2016, with sufficient zonal surpluses to offset shortfalls through

By - Michael Drost

Senate subcommittee chairman blasts Clean Line as comment period is extended

Energize Weekly, June 17, 2015 The chairman of a key U.S. Senate Energy subcommittee blasted the $2 billion Clean Line project last week, asking the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to withhold approval of a construction path and questioning the need for the 700-mile transmission line altogether. “The project proposes to fill a need that is not present at this

By - Michael Drost

APS completes massive Yuma transmission project

Energize Weekly, June 10, 2015 Arizona Public Service (APS) recently completed its largest transmission project in nearly three decades – a $200 million line between Phoenix and Yuma that will bolster reliability in one of the fastest growing areas in the United States. The 500-kilovolt (kV), 110-mile line, which went operational on May 26, spans from the Hassayampa substation near

By - Michael Drost

ITC completes Thumb Loop transmission project

Energize Weekly, May 20, 2015 ITC Transmission says it has finished the final section of its $510 million “Thumb Loop” transmission line designed to improve wind farm access in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula region. ITC announced that it completed the final 56-mile “Phase 3” section of the line last week. The company says the 140-mile 345 kilovolt (kV) line will be

By - Michael Drost

Supreme Court to review FERC demand response rule

Energize Weekly, March 13, 2015 The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order 745, which calls on electricity grid operators to provide incentives for users to reduce consumption during peak times. FERC had appealed a previous court ruling striking down Order 745, a 2011 rule which creates higher compensation levels

By - Michael Drost

DOE report: U.S. energy grid needs major updates

Energize Weekly, May 6, 2015 The nation’s energy grid is old, too old, and will need some major policy and investment updates if we expect to have a secure energy future in the face of threats like cybersecurity and climate change, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Last month, the DOE released the first

By - Michael Drost

Virginia court says major Dominion transmission line needs local approval

Energize Weekly, April 22, 2015 The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that local approval is required over a key element of a major Dominion transmission line over the historic James River. The court said that while regulators with the State Corporation Commission (SCC) did not err when they approved the path of the 8-mile, 500 kilovolt (kv) line between Surry

By - Michael Drost

Regulators say EPA carbon reduction plan could threaten reliability

Energize Weekly, April 8, 2015 State regulators and utility executives told federal officials last week that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed carbon reduction rule, or Clean Power Plan, requires too much compliance too fast and could threaten electric reliability and affordability up and down the Midwest. Regulators from Indiana, North Dakota, and Texas three states currently engaged in a

By - Jim Vess

Utilities Testing Drones to Improve Grid Reliability

By Jim Vess The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows for some commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS’s), or drones, but only with express permission, which it started granting last year, mainly to Hollywood film companies and crop surveyors. Now utilities are starting to get into the act. ComEd recently gained approval from the FAA to use drones to inspect

By - Jim Vess

What about the Physical Security of the U.S. Power Grid?

By Jim Vess In an effort to protect the United States electric transmission system a lot of the focus has been placed on cybersecurity. This is understandable with all the recent press about hackers – some alleged funded by foreign governments – stealing critical information from financial institutions, entertainment giants, and major retailers. It seems like hackers are everywhere and

By - Jim Vess

New Electric Transmission: Why Does It Take So Long to Complete?

By Jim Vess On December 19, 2014, after a four-year delay, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) made available the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line project for review and comment through March 19, 2015. Open houses for the DEIS were held in the first part of January 2015. When they are completed, two

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