Modeling the Grid — Breakthrough

To start the new year off with a bang, I may be going out on a limb here, but I don’t think so. I hope you’ll take a close look at this….

DOE, EPRI and the entire power industry is abuzz with talk about how the grid can be operated better. The grand vision comes up hard against the incredibly difficult problem of modeling. For many decades, the best mathematicians, operations researchers, utility engineers and others have struggled to come up with (computerized) representations of the grid that can guide planners and operators.

Since the beginning, despite ever faster-cheaper computers, and tremendous innovations in algorithms and computational methods, the state of the art has been forced to make many bad compromises among such factors as speed, accuracy, detail, breadth, time domain, treatment of boundary effects, and applications. Unless corners are cut, a solution might not be found at all (i.e. converge). Areas of study and tools are stove-piped into many separate categories of time-scale and function:

– Real time (sec. to minutes)
optimal power flow, voltage and frequency control, contingency analysis

– Short term (hours to a week)
unit commitment, thermal-hydro coordination

– Annual ( 1-3 years)
maintenance scheduling, rate-design, production costing, hydro scheduling…

– Long term (3-40 years)
generations expansion, transmission planning, etc.

(see "A Primer on Electric Power Flow for Economists and Utility Planners" EPRI TR-104604, Feb 1995.)

To make things worse, the industry is highly fragmented and way behind the curve. Utilities don’t have the same cadre of experts in-house that they used to. Vendors sell "black-box" solutions that don’t live up to promises. Obsolete tools continue to be used because "everybody else uses them" and "regulators accept them". (Never mind the results may be worthless.) A guru of power flow analysis, now retired, told me that much of the industry isn’t even using more powerful real time analysis tools that are over 25 years old.

So there are major institutional problems and technical ones, and the two are intertwined. Not only is the problem fiendishly hard, but lot of people also have vested interests in the status quo (e.g., experts have devoted entire careers, and don’t look kindly at upstart claims of a breakthrough–just as in every field of human endeavor).


This is a long prologue to a story of just such a claimed breakthrough. Optimal Technologies appeared on the scene late in 2001, announcing they had analyzed the June 14, 2000 California blackout, and stating they could have prevented it by fine-tuning the grid according to results from their analysis tool, AEMPFAST.

Needless to say, the world was not especially open to the idea that a newcomer had succeeded in coming up with a methodology that did what so many had sought for so long:

"AEMPFAST is based on a new near-real-time (solves a several thousand bus system in milliseconds) mathematical approach to network analysis, optimization, ranking, and prediction called QuixFlow … a proprietary N-Dimensional (non-linear) analysis, optimization, and ranking engine that also has defendable predictive capabilities and is applicable to any problem that can be modeled as a network. … QuixFlow uses no approximations; it handles multiple objectives; and is able to enforce multi-objective inequality constraints." [from factsheet – see link below]

I have been closely following the company’s progress since then. Their revolutionary claims are finally beginning to overcome the natural skepticism and resistance. At least one major ISO/RTO is signing up, and DOE and a number of large utilities are taking it very seriously. The implications are, as Donald Trump would say, "huge".
Here is an introduction in the company’s own words:

Optimal Technologies is a private company focused on making power-grid systems more efficient, more reliable, and more cost effective to plan and operate. In other words, "smarter". Think of Optimal as the Internet for power grids [or Sonet for telecommunications] self-healing, self-enabling, lowest cost operation with highest reliability.

Problem: Power system infrastructures and the grid networks that support them are breaking down faster than solutions can be developed to address the underlying problems.

Because of inadequate core technologies and especially slow and limited mathematical tools, the utility industry is plagued with many tools based on algorithms that no longer work well for their intended tasks and that do not work well together. Last year’s blackout that effected more than 50 million people should help provide some context. Despite new advances in materials and hardware, blackouts and brownouts are becoming larger and more common because utility system planning and control methods are still in the horse and buggy era — done much as they were 50 years ago — fragmented and piecemealed. In other words, even though system peripherals (such as wind energy, distributed gas generation, fuel cell generators, meters, and demand-side management) are improving, the core grid Operating System that makes them all work well together doesn’t exist.

New Technology: Our software and hardware solutions are based on a revolutionary new mathematical approach to network analysis, optimization, and management. Our technology is far better than current approaches to understanding and managing networks, and allows for both local and integrated, end-to-end views of Generation, Transmission, Distribution and Load. Unlike competing products, our technology can view the complete energy delivery supply chain as an integrated asset, which allows for entirely new levels of risk review and risk management — previously not possible. Optimal’s new technology should be viewed as "Foundational" in that it has pervasive application within the power industry and provides a common framework for many new tools.

Optimal’s Solution: Think of us as the much needed underlying "operating system engine" that integrates, defragments, and prioritizes utility planning, operations, and business processes in the best controllable and defendable way. Our technologies have the ability to simultaneously analyze, optimize, and manage generation, transmission, distribution and customer load Ð down to the individual power line and building. Instead of viewing customer load as a problem, our technology has the ability to make all aspects of the system, including customer load, potential risk-reducing resources [i.e. reliability enhancers] not otherwise possible.

Products: Applications include: Congestion Management, Locational Marginal Pricing, Simultaneous Transfer Limits, Multi-Dimensional Reliability, Automated Network Planning, Emergency Control, System Restoration, and Smart Asset Management.

Beyond the scope of this note, Optimal also has a suite of software and hardware for the demand side, which enables measurement and control — and optimization — down to individual loads.
There is a great deal of information on the company’s website:

Roland Schoettle, CEO
Optimal Technologies International Inc. 707 557-1788

AEMPFAST FACTSHEET (good starting point)

Sag Line Mitigator is Ready

We’ve been following SLiM for a long time (see below), and it’s a proud moment now to see this program come to the point of actual commercialization.  Industry testing has been extensive and very successful.

They are ready to take orders.  Delivery in small quantities can be fairly prompt, and they are in the process of raising funds to ramp up production (investor inquiries welcome).

Here’s the text from the new brochure, from the newly incorporated company, Power Transmission Solutions, Inc. (PTS)  (Until the website is up, let me know if you’d like me to send you the pdf of the brochure.)

The Sagging Line Mitigator (SLiM) is a new class of transmission line hardware that fixes the sagging problem of transmission lines at just the right time. By using state-of-the-art materials and a proven and patented concept, SLiM reacts to increasing conductor temperature by decreasing the effective length of conductor in the span. The impact is a decrease in line sag during the high temperature and/or high loading conditions.

 — SLiM solves sag problems rather than just monitoring them
 — SLiM allows for increased power flow and avoids clearance issues
 — SLiM is maintenance free
 — SLiM is fail-safe and practically indestructible

SLiM was originally developed by Material Integrity Solution, Inc. (MIS), of Berkeley, CA with funding from California Energy Commission. It has been extensively studied and tested by MIS, PG&E, Hydro Quebec (IREQ) and Kinectrics. SLiM has been installed at San Diego G&E since May of 2004 as part of a Tailored Collaboration demonstration project with the EPRI on behalf of SDGE, PG&E, SCE, PSNM, ConEd, BC Hydro, National Grid Transco (UK), Northeast Utilities, and the California Energy Commission.

SLiM is distributed by Maurice Pincoffs. To order the device, to determine how SLiM device can solve your specific sag problem, to design optimum SLiM location(s) for your specific situation, or , just for more information please contact:
  Dariush Shirmohammadi (PTS) at 310.858.1174,

or George Rose (Pincoffs) at 713.681.5461,

   Power Transmission Solutions, Inc.
   Berkeley, CA   510-594-0302

UFTO’s long history with SLiM:
– Oct 2002:  UFTO Note – Short Subjects
– Mar 2000: UFTO Note – Sag Line Mitigator -UPDATE
– Jun 1999: UFTO Note – T Line Sag Mitigator Gets Funding; Partner Wanted
– Mar 1999: UFTO Note – Sagging Line Mitigator

Short Subjects


New Features on http://www.UFTO.COM

*Scroll to the bottom of the home page, and click on
“Recommended Reading & UFTO EXTRAS”
*Note the link at the top:
“For a list of newsletters and publications regularly scanned by UFTO, click here.”
Any new ones to suggest?


See below for these items:

*Cleantech Venture Network Issues First Report
*IEEE 1547 Interconnection Standard Passes Ballot
*Army Venture Capital Fund
*New Report on Energy Storage
*New Model to Analyze Distributed Power Projects
*Sag Line Mitigator — EPRI TC proposal


Cleantech Venture Network Issues First Report (See UFTO Note, 26 Jul 2002)

The first Cleantech Investment Monitor was released last week. It reports that investments in “clean” technology companies – ranging from fuel cells to water purification systems exceeded US$500 million in the first half of 2002, more than doubling from Q1 to Q2.. It also lists company investments made during the quarter, and profiles selected companies and investors. Download (27 pages) at:

Also the website has much more to offer now, including investor membership sign-up (options include Forum, Deal Flow, and Investment Monitor). Plans for the first venture forum (Toronto, Nov 13-14) are proceeding well. Over 40 companies have applied, and 15-20 will be selected to present.


IEEE 1547 Interconnection Standard Passes Ballot

The IEEE P1547/D10 Draft Standard for Interconnecting Distributed Resources(DR) With Electric Power Systems(EPS) received 90% affirmatives in the ballot that closed September 26, 2002.

Separately, the Standards Board approved new numbers for the three new working groups. Next meeting are in San Francisco October 8-10: (see UFTO Note 09 Sep 2002)

–P1547.1 (formerly P1589) – Draft Standard for Conformance Test Procedures for Equipment Interconnecting DR with EPS
–P1547.2 (formerly P1608) – Draft Application Guide for IEEE Standard 1547 for Interconnecting DR with EPS
–P1547.3 (formerly P1614) – Draft Guide for Monitoring, Information Exchange and Control of DR Interconnected with EPS.


Army Venture Capital Fund

Clearly modeled after the CIA’s In-Q-Tel fund (, the U.S. Army issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) to solicit proposals for the operation and management of a not-for-profit, Venture Capital Corporation (VCC). The objective is to improve the business relationships between the entrepreneurial community of high technology innovators and the U.S. Army. This is expected to accelerate the transition of innovative technology into the Army by creating greater awareness on the Army’s part concerning commercial technology development and in the entrepreneurial community concerning the Army’s potential as a technology customer willing to accept innovative solutions to its requirements. The focus initially will be on companies and programs developing power and energy technology applicable to the requirements of the individual soldier.

The BAA was issued Aug 29, and the deadline for proposals was just extended from Sept 30 to Oct 15. UFTO will follow this story with great interest. (I am advising a local VC firm who plans to submit a proposal.)


New Report on Energy Storage

“Energy Storage: The Sixth Dimension of the Electricity Value Chain”, by Richard Baxter and Jason Makansi, of PearlStreet, Inc.

The report focuses on understanding potential business opportunities and developing long-term market strategies, describing the leading storage technologies (including pumped-hydro, compressed air energy storage, regenerative fuel cells/flow batteries, sodium/sulphur and lead acid batteries, superconducting magnetic energy storage, flywheels, thermal, and hydrogen systems), existing installations, and current market leaders. The 230-page report also includes 87 tables, market insights from leading industry thinkers, outlines of market applications including ancillary services and their impact on existing industry participants, a review of state and regional business opportunities, and forecasts of the impact on the US economy. (20% discount til 30 Nov). For details:

Contact: Richard Baxter,, 617.320.0598

In 2002, Pearl Street founded the Energy Storage Council, a non-profit organization formed to support the energy storage community in its effort to accelerate the introduction of energy storage systems and technologies into the marketplace.

[Note that the Electricity Storage Association’s next meeting starts this Thursday Oct 10 in Milwaukee.]


New Model to Analyze Distributed Generation Power Projects

Competitive Energy Insight (CEI) in San Diego is offering a new tool for the evaluation of DG projects, based on a model they developed for utility and other large scale power plants. EconExpert-DG is a financial model for the complete before and after tax financial analysis of DG and “Inside-the-Fence” cogen projects. The model can be used to evaluate and make decisions on virtually any DG Project or Technology, allowing owners, investors, developers and equipment suppliers to better understand the economic benefits and risks of self-generation. A suite of automated sensitivity functions make it easy to evaluate how changes in current project costs or future market conditions will impact their investment decision. The model also includes many automated analysis functions and on-line help features. The User’s Manual can be downloaded from CEI’s website.

CEI’s EconExpert-LP (for Large Power) is a similar tool for Central Power Station and Merchant Power Projects.

A 30 day free trial is offered to qualified parties. CEI’s website provides additional details and can be reached at:
http://www.CEIInc.NET or www.EconExpert.NET

or contact :
Steve Provol, Competitive Energy Insight, Inc.


Sag Line Mitigator — EPRI TC proposal

UFTO has been following this story for a long time, and they’ve made tremendous progress. [Summary: SLiM reacts to increasing conductor temperature by decreasing the effective length of conductor in the span. This mitigates the natural thermal expansion experienced by the conductor during high temperature operation. The impact is to decrease line sag during such operations.] For a good overview, download this pdf file:

The initial test program went very well, and now plans are underway for utility demonstrations, under an EPRI tailored collaboration project (open to members and nonmembers of EPRI). The project will evaluate the performance of SLiM on three operating transmission lines, and will provide participating utilities with first-hand information on the operational performance of this new kind of line hardware device. For a description of the proposed TC, download:
Manuchehr Shirmohamadi, 510-594-0300 x202,
or Ram Adapa, EPRI project manager, 650.855.8988,

EPRI Distributed Resources Venture Forum

— Business Venture Forum for Emerging Distributed Resources Technology Companies, Investors, and Market Channels
— 7/25/2001 – 7/26/2001

Agenda download is still available:

EPRI solutions’ Second Annual Business Forum was designed to bring together leading Distributed Resource (DR) technology companies, the energy utility industry, and energy industry investors for the exchange of information related to business and investment opportunities. The Forum was structured as a venture fair with 15-minute presentations from 13 leading DR companies, followed by an afternoon of “breakout” sessions, for small group/individual meetings with the company representatives.

EPRI will issue a CD with all the presentations. Most were provided in hard copy in a binder. Additional company materials were selectively provided at the breakout sessions.

We’ve seen a number of the presenting companies before, as they’ve appeared at other similar events over the last couple of years. Side conversations also led to some interesting additional leads.

These notes are intentionally brief. If you’re interested in contacts or more details for any of these companies, let me know.


Dais Analytic – yet another small company pushing PEM. Distinctions include “great” reformer technology, about which nothing was disclosed, and a proprietary membrane material. The membrane is the subject of a major JV with a major chemical company (unnamed), and holds great promise in an air-to-air heat exchanger, MERV, which exchanges not only heat, but also water vapor. MERV greatly reduces heating and A/C loads by preconditioning incoming fresh air. This company’s “dual” play is either appealing or not, depending on your investment philosophy (and your view of PEM’s prospects). MERV appears to offer prospect of early real revenues while awaiting PEM to ripen. On the other hand, it’s two different businesses, which can be hard for a small company to do effectively.

Candent Technologies – a brand new stealth (til now) arrival on the microturbine front. Very experienced personnel coming out of Rolls Royce, (which decided not to do a microturbine) take a different design approach, and will target a 750 KW unit size, eventually as low as $350/KW. They specifically are avoiding the use of recuperators, as expensive and unreliable, and will use a high pressure spool instead. No new technology is involved, so they’re projecting a rapid development, direct to beta pre-production stage, skipping a prototype. Looking for $3 Million now, and $20 M in another round following demonstration.

PEPCo Technologies – GenerLink. Spinoff of PEPCo, selling an standby generator interface for homeowners. Said they have 2 investors that are going ahead (one is strategic, the other a VC). I have to agree with what I heard most people say– it’s hard to imagine there are very many people who would want this.

Pentadyne Power Corp. High speed flywheel, continuing development work by Rosen Motors. Targeting high power/short duration ride-through application. First units will be 120 KW for 20 seconds. Novel approach to safety containment using double shell with liquid in-between (originally conceived for onboard vehicle use, where heavy shielding is not possible). Claim very low standby loss/idling load, and low cost once in large quantity production.

Powerco US/Ocean Power — a new private marketing arm, formed as subsidiary to Ocean Power (NASDAQ PWRE). Initial focus on small stirling engine they acquired in Norway, but parent company has too many breakthrough technologies in its arsenal to believe, ranging from diesel CHP, dish PV, fuel cells…and they didn’t even mention desalination, another area they claim to have cornered.

Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd — Solid Oxide FC contender in Australia that appears quite credible. In the breakout session they showed a new all-ceramic stack configuration that is looking very promising. Market entry product is a 40 KW generator, to operate on straight methane (SOFC is autoreforming, so no fuel processor needed).

BCS Technology — a tiny company from Texas, founded 1990, with “self-humidified” PEM fuel cell stacks and MEAs. They’ve sold over 100 small stacks.

ALM Turbine — This company looked overly ambitious when they started raising money 1-2 years ago, but they say their progress is on track. Their first engine is just about ready for tests, and preliminary emissions data for their burner technology is promising. Their engine is completely scalable in size, from 25-350 KW, and they claim high efficiency, and high part load performance. Design relies heavily on exhaust gas recirculation.

Sixth Dimension — Until recently, it was difficult to understand what this company did, but they’re doing better at explaining it now. They’re a “network operating system” for communicating with any/all types, brands etc of energy producing, consuming and monitoring devices, e.g. meters, gensets, building control systems, energy analytics systems, etc. They put a “gateway” box on site which they call “Embedded Site Server”, to which 16 devices can be connected. Each device gets a smaller box called the “Power Tone Adapter” which can be outside or inside the device. The system of proprietary hardware and software makes possible all manner of clever monitoring and control functions. This sounds like what Encorp says, but they say Encorp can only do these things if you have Encorp switchgear. 6th is far more equipment-agnostic.

Alternative Designs Inc — ADI has unique stirling engine technology enabling operation at much higher temperatures, attaining efficiencies of 50% and greater. Other enhancements include an advanced regenerator, and simplified heater head design, leading to big cost reductions and higher reliability. [I am an advisor to this company.]

DayStar Technologies — Unique PV cell technology. Company first developed a “flat-plate concentrator” technology that was clever and intriguing, but would require extensive capital development. DayStar is now focused primarily on their own cadmium-telluride “thin-film-on-metals” solar cells. The cells are manufactured in sheets, which can be used whole, or cut into cells which can be a direct “replacement” for Si cells, at half the cost.

Rolls Royce — as noted above, RR decided not to pursue a microturbine development, despite having invested quite a bit of money in it. Instead, they’re going for a special purpose turbine to be combined with their own planar SOFC. Program began in 1992. This 1 MW hybrid is to be ready by 2005. RR will fund most of the program internally, but will seek strategic partners for funding, and technical/marketing support, leading to a possible spinoff company.

Vanteck(VRB) Technology Corp. — (public company, CNDX symbol VRB ) commercializing the vanadium redox battery technology, and in particular VESS, for Vanadium Energy Storage Systems. The company is in the midst of straightening out a particularly messy history of corporate ownership of IP and market rights, but assuming that can be done, are focusing on the US market. This is flow-battery has some uniquely attractive features, including high round trip efficiency, and freedom to size a system’s power (KW) and capacity (KWH) separately (either aspect can be added to over time). In concept, this is very similar to the Regenesys battery, but with different chemistry, and targeted at smaller systems. The first commercial installation outside Japan is starting up now — a 250 KW/ 520KWH unit at ESKOM, in South Africa.

NIST Workshop – Technical Implications of Deregulation

It’s been 5 years since the first UFTO visit to NIST, and we’ve had continuing contacts ever since. Our colleagues there have recently announced an upcoming workshop that may be of interest.

“Challenges for Measurements and Standards in a Deregulated Electric Power Industry”

A Workshop focused on the Technical Implications of Deregulation

–> For details, go to:
(ignore the password request–just click on “cancel”)

Key Bridge Marriott, Arlington, VA (near downtown Washington, DC)

December 6-8, 1999

Sponsored by:
-NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology)
-EEEL (Electronics and Electrical Engineering Lab)
-Electricity Division

Technical Co-Sponsors: IEEE, DOE, NST, ERPI and NEMA

Deregulation promises to spur significant change in the electric power industry. To compete successfully and to provide the high levels of services that customers expect, companies will have to adapt to a new business climate, while effectively integrating emerging technologies into their operations. Thus, this historically regulated industry will be challenged to identify its technology needs in a changing and uncertain environment. To help the industry respond effectively, this workshop will address technical challenges related to measurements and standards that are needed to ensure continued reliable generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power.

The technical impact of deregulation on the industry’s measurement and standards infrastructure will be assessed from the perspectives of the electric utilities, power producers, electrical equipment manufacturers, meter manufacturers, federal and state regulators, government agencies, and standards-writing bodies. Sessions for this two-day workshop will focus on:

– measurement needs for transmission and distribution,
– international and voluntary standards needs of a deregulated
electric power industry,
– communication and control systems protocols and standards,
– competitive metering,
– distributed generation, and
– power quality.

The workshop will feature three or four plenary speakers each morning, and their comprehensive overviews of the technical topics will be complemented by panel sessions each afternoon. Panels will consist of recognized experts from all sectors of the electric power industry and relevant government agencies. The workshop’s published proceedings will identify key technical challenges facing the industry as it undergoes fundamental change, and it will discuss potential solutions. Copies will be distributed to all attendees.

Registration fee: $350 (includes reception, two lunches, and proceedings)

For questions and comments about this workshop, contact:

James K. Olthoff, 301-975-2431,
Electricity Division, NIST
Gaithersburg, MD

Technological and Economic Assessment of the Changing Measurement and Standards Needs of the Electric Power Industry

With restructuring of the electric power industry looming in all 50 states, NIST has initiated efforts to anticipate needs for measurements and standards that may arise as the industry transitions from a system of monolithic utilities to a diverse collection of firms competing to generate, distribute, and meter the power that goes to homes and businesses. In its role as the nation’s measurement authority, NIST has commissioned a study of technology and marketing trends in the transmission, distribution, and generation sectors of the electric power industry. Researchers will assess measurement and standards needs identified by power industry experts interviewed during the study.

The results of the study will be presented in a report, which will be distributed to the attendees of the workshop. An overview of the report and the conclusions therein will be presented in the first plenary talk of the workshop.

In May 1997, The Electricity Division at NIST published a planning document entitled:

“Measurement Support For the U.S. Electric Power Industry in the Era of Deregulation with Focus on Electrical Measurements for Transmission and Distribution”

It is available in “html” and “pdf” format.

A earlier draft of this document was offered to UFTO companies for comment.
(ref: UFTO Notes: 28Jan97 and 14Nov96)

The Division continues to seek input on its program to provide metrology support to the US electronic instrumentation and test equipment industry.

Green Power News — Green Branding

Terry Peterson of EPRI sends out several notes a week to an email list, where he comments on current events in renewable energy. It’s primarily for EPRI members, but temporary ‘free preview’ subscriptions are available and he’s added my name to the list in anticipation of my supplying him reciprocal information. (Contact him directly if you want to be put on the list for a preview.)


Below is an item he sent out this morning. He gave me permission to forward it to you. It makes two very important points:

1. Retail customers haven’t rushed to switch suppliers in California — yet — but people who say this means restructuring is a flop are missing the point entirely. There isn’t much reason to switch now, but wait until the stranded asset recovery transition is completed, and then see what happens.

2. Most customers who have switched do it to go green, and are even willing to pay more, not less, for the opportunity. Everybody has been too fixated on “cost” of renewables — “price” (and “brand”) are what are really important. Precisely the point Karl Rabago made in his keynote speech to the CURC Conference (Nov 97 — see UFTO Note Nov 13, 1997).

The Harvard Business Review article looks interesting, too. Which cereal do you buy?

(Thanks, Terry.)


Subject: California’s green power market reported heating up
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 1999 11:15:28 -0700
From: Green Power News
To: Green Power News

California’s retail electricity competition has gotten off to a pretty slow start, owing to several factors that tended to discourage residential customers from taking action to switch providers, including an across-the-board 10% rate reduction and an effectively wholesale market price for competing electricity suppliers to beat. In the first year only about 1% of all residential customers bothered.

Enron, for one, found the heat in that kitchen unbearable and stopped marketing residential products. However, several other marketers have stayed the course and, from the press release below, it seems their patience is beginning to pay off.

As noted below, although the total number of switchers to date is comparatively small, the vast majority of them have opted for green power. Since the present California energy market provides very little economic incentive for switching, that testifies to two facts: The great majority of electricity customers are relatively satisfied with their present provider; And green power is clearly a product with “premium brand” potential.

That last point will become very important as the electricity industry learns to stop operating on “level 1” of building brand equity (What are the tangible, verifiable, objective, measurable characteristics of products, services, ingredients, or components that carry this brand name?) and moves toward “level 4” (What does “value” mean for the typical loyal customer?) and “level 5” (What is the essential nature and character of the brand?). If this notion intrigues you, and you don’t think that level 1 captures all the differences between Safeway’s and Kellogg’s corn flakes, please read S. Ward, et al., “What High-Tech Managers Need to Know about Brands”, Harvard Business Review, July-August 1999, pp. 85ff.

Company Press Release

Summer Heats up for California’s Green Power Market

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–July 23, 1999–California Green power providers report a new surge of customer enthusiasm.

Two companies, GreenMountain.Com and Commonwealth Energy, report signing up customers at a record pace. A third, The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) announced plans to buy all the power available from a new green power facility that begins generating in September, in order to meet recent high customer demand.

All three organizations offer products certified by Green-e, a renewable electricity certification program. To date, over 90 percent of California customers who switch electricity providers are receiving green power — electricity produced using renewable resources such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and small scale hydropower.

“Last month was our most successful month ever in terms of sales,” said Rick Counihan, Director of California Public Affairs for Green Mountain Energy. “We are greatly encouraged by the speed with which green power is catching on in California,” Counihan continued.

Jay Goth, Vice President of Commonwealth Energy, said that “Each week we set new records for the number of customers that switch to our 100 percent renewable power offering. In the San Diego area alone, 43 government entities are now buying our green power.”

California Public Utilities Commission Reports support the marketers’ statements showing that customer requests for green power are up almost 90 percent from earlier in the year.

Customers have directly benefited from a statewide credit for renewable energy purchases that allows green power providers to offer renewable-based electricity at a price below that offered by the state’s three major utilities.

In addition, a grassroots education program being conducted by leading environmental organizations such as the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies and Global Green, USA, in conjunction with the Renewable Energy Marketing Board, is helping educate customers on the environmental benefits of green power purchases.

“Still much work remains to be done,” said Karl Rabago, Chair of the Green Power Board which governs the Green-e Program, “but the strength of California’s green power market shows that when customers hear about it, they get it — buying green power is a choice they can make to create a healthier environment for us all.”

The Green-e, a renewable electricity certification program, is administered by the Center for Resource Solutions, a non-profit organization dedicated to building human capacity and institutions for energy, economic and environmental sustainability.

Based in San Francisco’s Presidio, the Center administers national and international programs that preserve and protect the environment through the design of innovative strategies and increased utilization of sustainable technologies.

Contact: Center for Resource Solutions, Meredith Wingate or Suzanne Tegen, 415/561-2100 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This news item comes to you as a service of EPRI’s Renewables and Green Power Marketing Target. If you are not a Green Power News subscriber and wish to become one–or are one and wish not to be–please send me an email request. Thank you.

Terry M. Peterson
Manager, Solar Power & Green Power Marketing
EPRI Palo Alto CA 650-855-2594

Visit the Renewables website:

Microturbine Test Programs

Edison Technology Solutions is offering a subscription program to test microturbines. It will involve actual testing on a uniform basis of up to 8 “pre-commercial” and commercial units from different manufacturers. Two units will commence testing early in January.

Subscribers will have timely access to detailed test data and analyses of performance and interconnection issues. While some of this information may eventually become available elsewhere, subscribers will not only receive timely information, but will gain access to technology briefings, operations assessments, and lessons-learned. It will be important to have such information before beginning any kind of commercial installations.

EPRI is cofunding this work (along with CEC and DOE), and will receive general test results under this arrangement. ETS’ program, however includes additional detailed analyses and reports, summarized conclusions, and presentations throughout the testing program that will not be available through other sources.

Contact: Jaime Medina, 626-815-0516,


In ’99, EPRI is continuing a microturbine field test program (which began in 1996 with the testing of Capstone early prototype units at Northern States Power and Southern California Edison). Participating host utilities will test one or more microturbines at either laboratory or actual end-user sites. The program will cover all available vendor products (e.g., Capstone, Elliott, Allied-Signal, NREC) and provide information on unit performance as well as interconnection, siting and permitting issues. The data from all of the tests will be shared within the group of host companies. Members of either of the two EPRI DR targets can use tailored collaboration money. Nonmembers can also participate by co-funding. Participants will participate in a user’s group where they will share experiences and insights obtained from operating their units with others in the program.

Contact: Doug Herman, 650-855-1057,

Additional information on EPRI’s $5 million/yr DR program (2 targets), including the microturbine tests, can be found at

CURC Annual Conf. 11/98

California Utility Research Council
Annual Technology Conference
November 2-4, 1998
Costa Mesa CA

Background Information —————–

——- Who is CURC? ——-
CURC (California Utility Research Council) was established by the California Legislature (Public Utilities Code, Sections 9201-9203) in 1984 to:

– Promote consistency of utility RD&D programs with state energy policy
– Prevent unnecessary duplication of research efforts
– Encourage the free exchange of information related to utility RD&D projects where appropriate
– Identify opportunities for research coordination between energy utilities and for joint funding of RD&D projects of benefit to California ratepayers

CURC Board includes representatives from the CPUC, CEC, PG&E, SDG&E, SCE, and SoCalGas. [Recently, a new category of “Associate Member” was created, and includes CIEE, CMUA, EPRI, GRI, LADWP and SMUD.]
Website —-

——- Restructuring and Public Interest R&D ——-
Restructuring of the electric and natural gas industries is having a dramatic effect on the energy RD&D landscape in California. Previously, most of this work was funded by ratepayers and managed by the four largest investor-owned California utilities: PG&E, SCE, SDG&E, and SoCalGas. Supplemental funding for California RD&D interests was provided by GRI, EPRI, and Federal Agencies.

Restructuring is providing new opportunities for collaboration of energy RD&D efforts. Recent California legislation (AB1890) has made available $62.5 million per year for public interest energy RD&D to be managed by the California Energy Commission (CEC). Utilities will continue to fund ratepayer RD&D activities, although on a lesser scale. It is also expected that there will be an increasing interest in shareholder-funded technologies by energy companies seeking a competitive advantage. Finally, restructuring will have a direct effect on programs offered by EPRI, GRI, and perhaps even Federal Agencies.

——- Purpose ——
– To help attendees better understand how all of the energy RD&D pieces fit together in a restructured environment.
– To provide participants with an overview of technology trends and energy RD&D collaboration activities which benefit California.
– A first hand look at how the California PIER (Public Interest Energy Research), Renewables, and Energy Efficiency programs are being implemented.
– Opportunities to network directly with peers and funding agencies.

Highlights from the Conference

– Keynote : “California’s Electric Restructuring: a Stunning but Secret Success”
Phil Romero, Chief Economist, Office of the Governor, outlined how rapidly the transformation of California’s electric industry has proceeded and the significant benefits already being realized. He summarized the “deal” struck between all players on stranded assets and rates (recently upheld by the defeat of Proposition 9), and replied to some of the criticisms — there are consumer choice, numerous competitors, and longer term benefits of a renewed generation base, new energy services, and the chance for California to be a winner in world energy service markets.
One surprise was the high price paid in auctions of the fossil power plants. On average, they have sold for 2.5 times more than anticipated. The CEC had expected a “fire” sale. Book value seems to be irrelevant–the underlying issue seems to be the cost to rebuild at a greenfield sight.
California needs to prepare for a population that is expected to double within the next 25 years.

– Keynote: Telecomm RD&D Transition
Peter Magill, Bell Labs reviewed what happened to Bell Labs as AT&T was broken up in the 1980’s, and how the R&D evolved. Under the regulated monopoly, R&D was decoupled from the needs of the business. Interest and dollars dipped and work became much more targeted under the local operating companies and long distance provider. Now Lucent, the new owner of Bell Labs, dedicates 1% of revenues to an agile and strategic research program, and regards it as critical to their success. He noted the complex array of technologies and markets that are converging now in the telecomm industry, and outlined the opportunities for energy utilities to play. In particular, they have no legacy networks to overcome, and have the chance to leapfrog technologically, avoiding a “me-too” approach.

— National R&D Needs and Programs

– EPRI – an overview of EPRI’s continuing process of providing more options, and exploring new ways of providing services.

– GRI – FY 1999 R&D Plan is on their website ( GRI has just done a major reorganization with business units focused on customer segments, and offering staff services on a competitive basis. GRI’s traditional funding mechanisms are disappearing, so they are looking at new business models.

– Livermore and Idaho National Labs – representatives presented overviews of their programs. LLNL sees their advanced computing for weapons modeling as a capability that can make contributions in energy, and expect hydrogen to play a major role in the future. INEEL offers capabilities in environmental management and systems integration, and Lockheed Martin has strong incentives to work with industry and commercialize technology under its management contract.

— California Utility R&D Perspective

1998 is the last year of ratepayer funded research by electric utilities in California, as the transition proceeds (with the CEC public interest programs–see below). Corporate R&D departments have been disbanded, and the function decentralized completely into separate business units, for each to pursue according to their own priorities. Human and financial resources are declining dramatically, and there is little or no coordination among departments.

PG&E – In 1999, R&D funding will come from foreign utilities, the CEC PIER program, co-funding, and department operating funds. R&D must compete with maintenance projects for funding, and is expected to be about 1/4 of 1998 levels. Current programs of interest include: Information technology, Environmental impacts and compliance, Real time data for customer decisions, Life extension, Pipeline rehabilitation, Fitness for service–better utilization of assets, and Underground construction activities. Needs include: Reducing the time to bring technologies to the field, Producing products in a shorter timeframe, Looking to others for fundamental research. PG&E expressed concern over loss of in-house expertise. There is a need to collaborate and work with other utilities/research organizations toward reaching common goals.

San Diego Gas & Electric – R&D funding is now focused on technology development and application for core business. A four to five year time horizon for a new product is too long. Programs must focus on the near term – one to two years. SDG&E has interest in programs that increase system reliability, improves performance, and minimizes service.

So Cal Edison – In 1997, SCE spent $30 million in R&D related activities. The 1998 budget was $1.5 million. It has disbanded its research department. Research activities are being conducted by the business units and Edison Technology Solutions, which is a new unregulated unit competing for R&D funding, notably the CEC PIER program. With strong affiliate transaction restrictions in effect, ETS and SCE must keep very separate, and carefully handle any contacts between them.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District – Unlike the IOUs, SMUD’s R&D programs are stable. They are spending 3.7% of their revenues on R&D. SMUD is interested in photovoltaics for parking lots and rooftops and renewable programs. SMUD’s R&D funds are committed, but they welcome collaborations. They will use their funds, others will have to use their funds. Current areas of interest include: landfill gas, fuel cells, microturbines, and wind.

All the utilities represented at this meeting are looking for third party funding—federal, state, partnering arrangements. Utilities can supply test beds for new products and systems, and are interested in collaborative research.


— Environmental R&D

California EPA – is a family of regulatory bodies, including the Air Resources and Water Resources Boards. The Innovative Clean Air Technology Program (ICAT) has been set up to help new technologies thru the “valley of death” by providing funding, guidance, and certification for new technologies trying to become commercial.

South Coast Air Quality Management District – In So. Calif, 88% of NOx and two-thirds of VOC emissions from mobile sources. The SCAQM spends nearly $5 Million per year to advance new technology solutions to air quality–priorities include fuel cells, electric/hybrid vehicles, and stationery VOC source reduction. They look for cost-sharing, and will accept unsolicited sole-source proposals.

CEC Environmental R&D – The CEC has its own role in supporting energy related environmental R&D focused on improved siting and regulatory decisionmaking. Topics include upper atmosphere NOx transport modeling, avian mortality and wind turbines, and power plant water sources.


CEC – Public Interest Energy Research (PIER)

(Extensive information is available at

Questions regarding PIER should be directed to Mike Batham
of the Commission’s Energy Development Division at:

PIER is for “public interest” not for regulated utility or competitive research, though it is recognized that the boundary is fuzzy.

Stage I is nearly complete, and Stage II is about to start.

In Stage I, three 1998 solicitations have been completed, with 83 projects approved for funding totaling $53 million through June 1999 (FY).
– One-time Transition Project Funding, for up to one year to continue ongoing (ratepayer-funded) public interest energy RD&D projects
– 1st General Solicitation funding, for projects in Environmental, Advanced Generation and Renewable Research
– 2nd General Solicitation funding, in End Use Efficiency and Strategic Research

UFTO has an electronic version of the complete listing of these projects that was handed out at the conference. It is available on the UFTO website, or on request. Send an email to

Other accomplishments include establishment of the “Small Grants” program ( $2.5 Million for grants up to $75K each for concept development–announcement due soon, with grants early in ’99). Also, membership in seven EPRI targets has been approved ($1.5 Million).

PIER has a14 member Policy Advisory Council with representation of industry, universities, government and environmental groups.

Stage II Funding is organized around six Program Areas, with a staff team for each area. The team leaders, which in some cases are interim at this time, are listed in the respective program area.

– Industrial/Agricultural/Water — John Sugar, 916-654-4563
– Residential and Commercial Buildings — Nancy Jenkins, 916-654-4739
– Energy-Related Environmental Research — Bob Eller, 916-654-4930
– Environmentally-Preferred Adv. Gen. — Mike Batham, 916-654-4548
– Renewables — George Simons, 916-654-4659
– Strategic — Tom Tanton, 916-654-4930

Each team has compiled a list of high-level issues, based on input from focus groups, the Policy Advisory Council, and the Commissioners. These draft issues are still a work-in-progress as the teams proceed with the next steps: (1) identification of program goals and objectives; (2) prioritization of technical issues corresponding to the high-level issues; and (3) funding options and strategies. (Note: The complete document is available online and as an Acrobat pdf file).

CEC claims it has “streamlined” the contracting process. The Commissioner admitted that the contracts offered previously were difficult to accept. A team has recently reviewed and modified the terms and conditions (T&C’s). The T&C’s now used are in the best interests of the program—not the State’s. Modifications will be very difficult to get in the next solicitation. It was strongly recommended that the T&Cs be reviewed before preparing a bid, and be ready to accept them if selected for an award.

The next solicitation opportunity is tentatively scheduled to be released late winter (likely in February). A series of solicitations will address clearly defined target areas. There is no policy in place for reviewing, approving, or handling unsolicited proposals, and they are distinctly not encouraged. Would-be applicants probably would do well to contact CEC program staff informally to explore their ideas.

Criteria include: eligible organizations, public interest benefits in California, technical merit, credible team and schedule, policy fit — scores by independent evaluators are weighted, added and ranked. Matching funds can be zero if benefits are 100% public–must increase in proportion to non-public benefits.

NOTE: A proposal does not have to be submitted by a California company, nor does it have to be performed in California. There is no “favorable weighting” for California companies in the PIER program. The program, however, must clearly benefit California rate payers. The program requires matching funds. There will be a PIER workshop in January or February.


The Other Public Benefit Programs

There are two other major “public benefit” programs that were established under AB1890 restructuring that represent a much larger $ resource than PIER — Renewable Technology, and Energy Efficiency. Presentations and discussions explored how these programs bridge to or overlap with PIER.

— Renewable Technology Program (

AB1890 provided for $540 Million ( of the “Public Good Charge” to be collected from the IOUs) to support existing, new and emerging technologies, and SB90 codified recommended allocation and distribution mechanisms. Basically, there are four separate “accounts” (existing, emerging and new technologies, and consumer-side), all of which provide some form of “buy-down” for renewable generation, with no participation in any form of RD&D. The purpose is to encourage the renewables industry to accept and promote new renewable technology.

— Energy Efficiency (

The Calif. Board for Energy Efficiency (CBEE) is a Board established by the CPUC to administer these funds–roughly 10 times the budget for PIER. Under “standard performance contracts, payments are made for measurable energy savings achieved by installation of specific energy-efficiency projects. Savings must be measured and installations verified under standardized program rules. There are also “market transformation” programs providing commercial downstream incentives, LED traffic signal standards, commercial surveys, and a demonstration programs for a premium efficiency relocatable classroom. Nearly 1/3 of the funds will go towards residential programs, e.g. contractor training and labeling programs. Contact Mark Thayer, 619-594-5510

— Bridging PIER (R&D) and the Renewables/Efficiency Programs
California Institute for Energy Efficiency
(CIEE plans, funds and manages a statewide energy R&D program)

CIEE outlined some their own programs, and offered ideas to bridge the gaps between R&D and these two programs. PIER can’t support demonstrations unless they “add to the knowledge”, and the CBEE needs more latitude for emerging technology. PIER needs to awareness of market needs. There is a need to prove cost effectiveness to market participants, etc.

An important element for bridging the gap is the multi-year program strategy that enables orderly transitions from R&D to demos to commercial use. Multi year projects should have advisory committees, direct involvement by market representatives, and deliberate plans for disseminating results in appropriate venues. CIEE also recommends that research be done directly on market processes themselves–barriers, incentives and decisionmaking.
Contact: Jim Cole, CIEE Director, 510-486-5380,


Calif. Trade and Commerce Agency, Office of Strategic Technology (OST)
Pasadena CA

Steve Jarvis, 626-568-9437,
Richard Keeler, ” ”

This agency provides resources, support, funding and access to various state and federal programs to help California companies to be successful and compete globally. OST partners with other organizations that seek to help the formation of partnerships and enable industry to move forward. A total investment 5 year investment approaching $1 Billion has been realized, leveraging funds from federal, state and private sources.

Companies seeking help must meet strict criteria as businesses (i.e. not just technology), much as venture capital investors require.

OST programs include the Calif Technology Investment Partnership, Regional Technology Alliances, Calif. Manufacturing Technology Program, Calif. Information Infrastructure, and NSF Research Centers.


Other agenda items included:

A series of presentations of a sample of PIER funded research projects:
– Waste water and agricultural technology demonstrations
– Monitoring and Diagnostic system for Commercial Buildings
– Global Climate Change–scenarios and analysis
– Low emission Gas Turbine Combustor for Distributed Gen.
– Photovoltaic system implementation

Customer view of RD&D Needs
– Calif. Manufacturers Assoc.
(want certain end in 2002 of ratepayer funded R&D)
(suggest a number of energy conservation items for work til then)
– Applicant Design of Gas and Electric Distribution systems
(evolving to include private ownership and O&M, with many
resulting legal, regulatory and technical issues)

Panel Discussion on Improving Collaborative RD&D Processes

Past Successes of CEC and IOU research (under the old framework)