T&D R&D Gaining Attention

Here are some high-level pointers to an array of resources related to ongoing developments in T&D research, sponsored by DOE, NSF and the CEC (Calif Energy Commission), which demonstrate a new level of attention to grid reliability and security.

Let me know if I can be helpful digging deeper into any of these areas.


DOE – Office of Electricity Transmission and Distribution

The Dept. of Energy will announce, perhaps as early as next week, the creation of a new office for T&D reporting directly to the Secretary, as recommended in the National Transmission Grid Study* done last year. The Office of Electricity Transmission and Distribution will start with a budget of $85 million, however all but $8 or 9 million is already committed to earmarks ($27 M) and high temperature superconductors ($40 M). The office will be headed by Jimmy Glotfelty, an assistant to Abrahams. The staff currently in the Transmission Reliability Program in EERE will move over to the new office.

Meanwhile next week, a new Center will be dedicated at Oak Ridge:

The dedication of the National Transmission Technology Research Center (NTTRC) and the Powerline Conductor Accelerated Facility (PCAT), the first working facility of four planned for the Center, will be held March 25. The Center, sponsored by ORNL, DOE, and TVA, will test and evaluate advanced technologies, including conductors, sensors and controls, and power electronics, under a wide range of electrical conditions without jeopardizing normal operations. The first component of the NTTRC, the PCAT facility, is initiating its first test protocol with 3M’s advanced Aluminum Conductor Composite Reinforced conductor.
— Overview of NTTRC:

The existing Transmission Reliability Program was reestablished by Congress in 1999 to conduct research on the reliability of the Nation’s electricity infrastructure during the transition to competitive markets under restructuring.

Go to “Documents and Resources” for recent studies and materials.

*(May 2002 http://www.energy.gov/NTGS/reports.html)


Calif Energy Commission

The CEC Public Interest Energy Research program (PIER) has a very active effort underway in Transmission Research. They recently released a 140 page “Electricity Transmission Research and Development Assessment and Gap Analysis – Draft Consultant Report” — now available online along with other materials and presentations:

This report is one of two reports which were discussed at a public workshop held March 12, 2003 at the CEC.


National Science Foundation
Directorate for Engineering, Elec. And Communications Systems

1. Workshop on Modernizing the Electric Power Grid, Nov 02
— http://eent1.tamu.edu/nsfw/index.htm

Starting on slide 14 of James Momoh’s presentation there is a good overview of the EPNES initiative (next item)

2. NSF/ONR Partnership in Electric Power Networks Efficiency and Security (EPNES)

This solicitation seeks to obtain major advances in the integration of new concepts in control, modeling, component technology, social and economics theories for electrical power networks’ efficiency and security. It also encourages development of new interdisciplinary research-based curriculum… Proposals were due Feb 3.

3. The Power Systems Engineering Research Center (PSERC)
PSERC is an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center, involving a consortium of13 universities working with government and industry. The website has a huge array of reports and publications.

For the NSF’s “fact sheet”, see:

Preheat Standby Diesels with Heat Pump

(Many of the stories we’ve been looking represent new technology with big potential impact, but whose commercial availability may take a while. Here’s something very much here and now that may appear to be a small niche, but which could be a valuable feature to be able to offer customers, and even to apply on a utility’s own facilities.)

“Reduce the cost and increase the reliability of a standby generator, with no initial capital outlay.”

For standby diesels to start reliably, they need to be kept warm. Standard practice (for 200 kw to 2.5MW gensets) is to attach an electric resistance heater to maintain a temperature of 100-140 degF. As a standard practice, nearly all engines have such heaters, installed either by the engine manufacturer or the distributor. (Watlow and Kim HotStart have most of this market.) Heat can be applied to the oil (which is kept flowing and at pressure), the engine coolant and of course to the fuel itself (which can turn to jelly in cold weather).

For an engine that has to be ready to go at any time with no warning, this electric load (2-8 kw) is (or should be) on all the time, and can as much as $6-8000 per year or more. It’s usually a hidden cost, buried in a facility’s overall power bill, and it’s not something engine makers talk about. Many owners and operators don’t even know the heaters are there, and O&M agreements don’t usually cover them. The average life of a heater is typically about 18 months. When it fails, it might not be noticed, leaving a cold engine at risk. Replacing heaters adds to the large costs for power — the biggest single operating cost of owning a standby generator.

If an engine is started cold, it might not even start. If it does start, and especially if it is heavily loaded immediately, heavy wear and tear will come from running cold. Engine life is shortened, and overhauls come sooner. A bad episode can wreck the engine right then and there. (One distributor for CAT told me they recommend keeping an engine warm all the time, and this includes prime power applications, not just standby/emergency. In some applications, codes require it.)

So there are three main issues: the cost for power, wear and tear from cold starts, and the unreliability — which can undercut the reasons for having standby generators in the first place.

To solve these problems, Energy Resources Management (ERM), Tampa, Florida, sells a specialized heat pump manufactured by Trane.

The 1.5-ton DH-12 air source heat pump saves 80% of the energy and cost of heating. Equally important, the heat pump (primary) runs in series with the heaters (secondary) to provide the redundant heating source needed to protect diesel engines from cold-start risk factors. In addition, resistance heater replacement costs and emissions are reduced (i.e., emissions from utility generation of the power saved).

ERM offers a shared energy savings program. Performance measurement and contracting allows them to provide the heat pump through a turnkey operation with no capital investment by the owner. Trane manufactures, installs, and services the heat pump. Successful installations include public and private sector entities such as Atlanta Hartsfield Intl Airport, MBNA, Bank of America, and the New York Stock Exchange. Municipal utilities and waste water treatment facilities have been early and frequent adopters.

While the savings for one engine may not represent a large amount of revenue, there are a lot of engines out there that could use this (and shared savings revenues continue year after year). There is also the improvement to quick start reliability to consider. This would seem to be a good fit for many C&I customers and utilities themselves.

ERM is looking for customers, of course, and for partners, reps, distributors, etc. to offer the program across the country. Call me for more information.

Nicholas Colmenares, President
Energy Resources Management, LLC
Tampa, FL
813-876-1113 ERMnow@aol.com

DG Update

Has DG (distributed generation) gone quiet, or mainstream, or both? Meanwhile, the DOE program has not done well in the proposed budget. Congressional earmarks are taking up so much money that DOE is forced to cancel some ongoing DG applications projects.

Here are some developments and updates.

– DUIT Facility Up and Running
– CADER Meeting Jan. 2004
– IEEE 1547 Interconnection Standards
– PG&E DG Interconnection program


Distributed Utility Integration Test Facility (DUIT)

The Distributed Utility Integration Test (DUIT) is the first full-scale, integration test of commercial-grade, utility grid interactive Distributed Energy Resources (DER) in the U.S. DUIT addresses a key technical issue: electrical implications of operating multiple, diverse DERs at high penetration levels within a utility distribution system. DUIT’s test plan is intended to focus on grid interaction, integration and aggregation issues, not on DER technology itself.

After an exhaustive study of program goals and alternative sites, DOE selected the facilities at PG&E’s Modular Generation Test Facility in San Ramon, CA as the home of the new DUIT Facility. Pre existing buildings, labs and professional staff helped make the choice, along with the adjacent test substation and high-current yard. The site held an official opening ceremony in August 2003.

The facility offers a realistic yet controlled laboratory environment, enabling testing of normal and abnormal operational conditions without interfering with a customer’s electric service. DG equipment at the site is commercially available and all on loan to the project from the vendors: Inverters, rotating machinery, and generation and storage devices. DUIT provides a full-scale multi-megawatt implementation, testing and demonstration of distributed generation technologies in a realistic utility installation.

Utilities may want to take note that DUIT will be confirming and testing to the newly passed IEEE 1547 Interconnection standard, which is expected to be adopted by a large number of state regulators and legislators. Similarly, for California, DUIT will be testing to the Rule 21 document.

To inquire about prospective DUIT project participation, technical specifications, test plans, project plans or the DUIT white paper, contact the DUIT Project Team. Reports will be issued by CEC and other sponsors beginning this Summer, and information will be available on the DUIT website:

Susan Horgan, DUIT Project Leader
Distributed Utility Associates
925-447-0625 susan@dua1.com

For the complete history:
"DUIT: Distributed Utility Integration Test", NREL/SR-560-34389, August 2003 (250 pages)


CADER (California Alliance for Distributed Energy Resources)

The 2004 DG conference in San Diego on January 26-28, 2004 had 202 attendees.

Presentations are posted on CADER’s website at www.cader.org or go directly to:

The draft DG-DER Cost and Benefit Primer was developed as a first step to support the discussions at the "Costs and Benefits of DER" session at the Conference on January 26-28, 2004. Comments about the document can be provided via the CADER member list-server to reach all members.


IEEE 1547 Update

As you know, "IEEE 1547 Standard for Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems" was approved by the IEEE Standards Board in June 2003. It was approved as an American National Standard in October 2003. (available for purchase from IEEE: http://standards.ieee.org

SCC21 develops and coordinates new IEEE standards and maintains existing standards developed under past SCC21 projects. These include the original 1547, along with the four spinoff efforts.

> P1547.1 Conformance Test Procedures for Equipment Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems (EPS) (draft standard)

> P1547.2 Draft Application Guide for the IEEE 1547 Standard

> P1547.3 Monitoring, Information Exchange, and Control of Distributed Resources Interconnected with EPS (draft guide)

> P1547.4 Design, Operation, and Integration of Distributed Resource Island Systems with EPS (draft guide)

#1 and 2 have drafts out to their working groups for review. #1 expects to be ready for ballot early in 2005.
#3 has just completed a draft.
#4 has just been approved as a new initiative, and will be organized over the coming summer.

Complete information is available at:

The next meeting of the IEEE 1547 series working groups will be April 20-22, 2004 in San Francisco. The P1547.1, P1547.2, and P1547.3 working groups will meet concurrently 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Working groups will be meeting separately – no plenary session is planned. Details at:


PG&E DG Interconnection program

PG&E held a Distributed Generation (DG) Workshop last December 10. The free event provided PG&E customers and the DG community with practical information on how to navigate the various Electric Rule 21 application and interconnection review processes – from initial application through to permission to parallel with PG&E’s electric distribution system. The focus of the workshop was to communicate PG&E’s internal DG processes and interconnection technical requirements to the DG community. (For details on California’s Rule 21, see:

PG&E has set up an entire cross-company team to deal with all aspects of DG interconnection in a coordinated way. They appear to be very committed to low hassle, low cost, minimum time for DG projects. A great deal of information about PG&E’s program, (including the 117 page powerpoint from the workshop) is available at: http://www.pge.com/gen

Jerry Jackson, Team Leader
415-973-3655 GRJ4@pge.com

PS- Jerry’s office generously offers to send a hard copy on request of the nearly 2 inch thick binder that was handed out at the workshop.

CPUC: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/static/industry/electric/distributed+generation/index.htm
CEC: http://www.energy.ca.gov/distgen/index.html

After passing Rule 21 in Dec 2000, California PUC established, and the CEC coordinated, a working group of all DG stakeholders. Electric Rule 21 Working Group meetings have been held about once a month since mid 2001. The purpose is to establish procedures and work through issues to simplify and expedite interconnection projects. (Agenda and minutes are at:

California Interconnection Guidebook
Publication # 500-03-083F
PDF file, 94 pages, 1.1 megabytes) online November 13, 2003.

The Guidebook is intended to help a person or project team interconnect one or more electricity generators to the local electric utility grid in California under California Rule 21. Rule 21 applies only to the three electric utilities in California that are under jurisdiction of the California PUC: PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E. The Guidebook is written as an aid to interconnection in these utility areas. It may also be useful for interconnection in some municipal utility areas with interconnection rules resembling Rule 21, principally Riverside, SMUD, and the LADWP.


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