Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Milton Hydro to expand TOU billing with smart metres

Milton Hydro, a local utility distribution company located in southern Ontario, along with Trilliant Incorporated, has announced the expansion of Milton’s existing Smart Grid initiative.

Milton, part of the Greater Toronto Area, is Canada's fastest-growing community, and is expected to reach nearly 150,000 residents by 2021.

Milton, who first delivered Time-of-Use (TOU) billing to its customers in 2005, now provides TOU billing for over 21,000 consumers.

The solution is already in full production at Milton, including Trilliant hosted data services and software, and provides for two-way communication capabilities between Milton Hydro and their customers. Furthermore, Milton has successfully completed production testing and enrollment with the province's centralised Meter Data Management and Repository (MDM/R) system.

This system is operated by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in its capacity as the Smart Metering Entity.

The Government of Ontario, Canada, through the Energy Conservation Responsibility Act in 2006, has mandated the installation of smart metres in all Ontario businesses and households by 2010. Milton Hydro has completed the installation of smart metres for all their residential customers and all customers shall be on TOU billing by this fall, making Milton the first utility to fully implement Smart Metering and TOU billing.

AEP Texas signs contract with Landis+Gyr

Landis+Gyr has bagged a five-year contract to install 700,00 smart electric metres for AEP Texas.

AEP Texas, which is a unit of American Electric Power, one of the largest electric utilities in the U. S., will deploy Landis+Gyr’s Gridstream advanced metering solution across the utility’s Texas service territory. The Gridstream network will provide two-way communication to 700,000 metering endpoints.

AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765 kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined.

With this initiative, AEP Texas will be able to send energy consumption information and real-time pricing signals to consumers as well as provide automated load management options.

AEP Texas is connected to and serves more than one million electric consumers in the deregulated Texas marketplace. Major cities served include Corpus Christi, Abilene, McAllen, Harlingen, San Angelo, Vernon, Victoria and Laredo.

Including the contract with AEP, Landis+Gyr has now signed agreements to deploy approximately four million smart metres with Texas utilities.

China on right track

Frost & Sullivan foresees smart grid playing a significant role in the development of China’s national economy in the future.

It has highlighted that State Grid Corp of China (SGCC), China’s largest power grid builder, met with the Minister of Energy of the United States recently.

SGCC is constructing Ultra high and extra high voltage direct current (+/-800KV, +/-500KV) and alternating current transmission system (1000kV, 500kV, 220kV), and coordinating the development of a smart grid based on information technology and automation technology.

Known as the largest utility in the world, the SGCC serves 26 provinces and 1.08 billion people throughout China.

According to Frost & Sullivan China, smart grid in China focuses more on the transmission side than the distribution side at present.

Based on the fact that coal is the main energy source in China and coal mines are far away from the main load centres, it is the right choice that the power grid development be focused on the transmission network.

The company also highlighted that China has been constructing a unified national power grid network. The project includes what is known as the “West-East Electricity Transfer Project”, which includes three major west-east transmission corridors construction. The transmission capacity of each corridor will be 20 GW by 2020. Through these transmission grids, electricity distributors in China will bond regional power grids in different areas of the country, and improve cross-region electricity transmission ability. This will balance the power generation disparities in different regions.

Dutch set to create EU’s first intelligent city

Amsterdam has initiated the first phase of Amsterdam Smart City programme, becoming the first city in the EU to deploy intelligent technology, such as smart grids, in its electricity distribution system.

The Amsterdam Smart City will use a smart electric grid, smart metres, smart-building technologies and electric vehicles to reduce energy consumption in housing, commercial properties, public buildings and areas, and transportation.

Accenture, which has been chosen to implement this initiative, will also manage the integration of the smart-grid technology and the analysis and use of data.

The company will work with the Amsterdam Innovation Motor, a city affiliated agency that establishes public and private-sector cooperation, to develop, implement, manage and assess each of the phases and projects of the Amsterdam Smart City programme.

The first phase of the Amsterdam Smart City’s low-carbon projects includes: A ship-to-the-grid project, by which commercial vessels and river cruisers will be connected to electric grid when docked; Implementation of smart metres and in-home feedback displays to provide home owners with information to help manage their energy consumption; A smart building at Accenture’s Amsterdam office at the ITO Tower, where intelligent technology will collect, monitor and analyse the building’s programming and utility data to identify energy consumption efficiencies and lower the building’s carbon footprint.

As per the information available, the municipality, energy outfits, and private companies are expected to invest more than €1.1 billion in Amsterdam’s Smart City programmes over the next three years. That includes a €300 million investment by local electricity network operator Alliander in smart grid technology.

Also part of the plan: up to €200 million to be spent by local housing cooperatives on boosting household energy efficiency, and €300 million from companies including Philips and Dutch utility Nuon to be invested in other energy-efficient technologies.

Smart grid continues to be in news

The “smart grid” has become the buzz of the electric power industry, at the White House and among members of Congress, according to a report filed by AP.

A company like Cisco believes that the smart-grid infrastructure market size could be worth more than $20 billion a year for the next five years.

“It’s the marriage of information technology and automation technology with the existing electricity network. This is the energy Internet,” reportedly said Bob Gilligan, vice president for transmission at GE Energy.

The Obama Administration has recently announced a new solicitation for around $4 billion in stimulus, funding for new power- transmission technology.

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, there are plans to distribute more than $3.3 billion in smart grid technology development grants and an additional $615 million for smart grid storage, monitoring and technology viability.

According to Max Schulz, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, the irony in the stimulus package’s approach to grid investment is that private industry has long made clear its willingness to spend its own money to fix the grid, as long as Washington allows utilities and transmission companies to do it the right way.

“What the industry actually needs from Washington to fix the grid isn't money, but leadership,” he wrote recently. “That leadership can’t come soon enough. Even with robust energy-efficiency and conservation measures, the U.S. economy will require 30% more electricity by 2030.”

ZigBee Alliance adds new specification

The ZigBee Alliance has decided to incorporate global IT standards from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) into its specification portfolio of low-power wireless networking standards.

As a result of this initiative, ZigBee Smart Energy products will enhance their application capabilities with native IP support, allowing seamless integration of Internet connectivity into each product.

The move will see the strengths of the ZigBee Smart Energy standard getting combined with the ubiquity of Internet standards, ensuring that smart meter deployments currently underway will have a seamless path for continuous upgrades including Internet connectivity.

Through cooperative efforts with IETF, the members will create additional solutions for wireless sensor and control networks as part of the new specification. Internet connectivity is currently provided by existing ZigBee specifications; however, the addition of native IP support will offer tighter integration from wireless devices all the way to large scale utility IT networks.

The resulting specification will further broaden ZigBee’s suite of low-power wireless network solutions to meet the diversified needs of companies in the home, automation, healthcare, commercial building automation, telecommunications and consumer markets.

The deployment of an estimated 30 million ZigBee equipped smart metres is underway in North America.

Echelon to use a first-of-its-kind embedded T-Mobile SIM

T-Mobile USA, Inc. has developed what it describes as a first-of-its-kind embedded subscriber identity module (SIM).

The SIM is designed to withstand challenging environmental factors like temperature, humidity and motion to deliver reliable wireless connectivity, ideal for vehicle telematics and smart grid infrastructure solutions.

T-Mobile USA said the embedded SIM, slightly larger than the head of a pin, will be built of silicon rather than plastic, making it very durable, since too much heat, vibration, or humidity can damage traditional SIM cards.

Among the first to implement the embedded SIM into its M2M systems is Echelon Corp. The companies have formed an alliance to accelerate the adoption of the smart grid in the North American market by reducing the cost of communicating smart metres using Echelon's Networked Energy Services (NES) system over T-Mobile's GSM cellular service.

As part of the agreement, Echelon will utilise a first-of-its-kind embedded T-Mobile SIM within a cellular radio module to enable all the Echelon smart metres on a given low voltage transformer to communicate back to the utility over the smart grid.

Echelon, which has shipped more than 100,000 of its smart metres to U.S. utility owner Duke Energy and more than 1.6 million worldwide, said the partnership with T-Mobile would provide a cost-effective communications tool for the metres. Its metres reportedly cost about $100 apiece excluding installation.

The partnership’s wireless technology will be deployed on low-voltage transformers, which typically provide electricity connections to between four and 10 homes or businesses. Data provided from the transformers to a central collection point at the utility will allow the power provider to easily pinpoint problems in the network and reduce cost and duration of power outages.