Assessment Software Helps Utilities Avoid Power Outages

After a year of research, the Electric Power Research Institute's (EPRI) Reliability Initiative has developed new software tools to help utilities prevent outages on high-power transmission networks and local distribution systems. The probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) software enables utility planners to study regional reliability problems more precisely and reduce the likelihood and severity of widespread power disturbances.

“A major challenge to transmission systems has been the rapid increase in wholesale power transactions — more than four-fold in some areas — combined with a lack of financial incentives to build new transmission facilities that keep up with a growing load,” said EPRI vice president for power delivery, Karl Stahlkopf. “Along with this increase, we have seen a change in power flows to new patterns with different magnitudes and directions.”

In the past, reliability assessments predicted what might happen if certain critical elements of a transmission network failed. PRA identifies those failure modes with the severest consequences, then weighs them according to the likelihood of occurrence. The software will be released to Initiative members so they can better analyze problems on their own systems.

The success of PRA has led the Initiative to schedule a follow-up program in April. The program will concentrate on software enhancements and develop new tools to perform rapid, online calculations of system reliability.

More than 40 utility members comprise and fund the Reliability Initiative, which EPRI directs on behalf of the electric power industry and in coordination with the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC).

New Mexico Utility Gets More Power from Industries

Celerity Energy, Portland, Ore., is beginning the largest independent power project in the western United States with the help of a communications network provided by Sixth Dimension, Fort Collins, Colo. By using standby generators located at commercial and industrial facilities in New Mexico, the project will provide an alternative power supply to utilities facing a shortage of power. The Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) will receive 25MW of dispatchable electric-peaking capacity to support the distribution and transmission system in the Albuquerque area.

Project plans call for Celerity to install processor-based controls and paralleling switchgear that Sixth Dimension's distributed-intelligent network, called 6D iNet, will dispatch and control. Celerity will operate and maintain the control equipment installed on the standby generators and create a wholesale purchase agreement allowing PNM to directly dispatch power produced by the standby generators.

The New Mexico project will be phased this spring, with the final units completed in time for the peak summer season. The project, which may increase to 75MW in the future, recently received the Joint Industry and Government Pollution Prevention Award from the City of Albuquerque and the New Mexico Facility Manager Network.

Hard-Wired Surge Suppressor Consumption Up in Europe

Natick, Mass.-based Venture Development Corp.'s new study, International Markets for Power Line Surge Suppressors, Volume II: Europe, analyzes, sizes, and segments the market for line-cord, wall-plug, and hard-wired surge suppressors.

The report concludes that consumption of power-line surge suppressors in Europe will increase from $143.2 million in 1999 to $265.8 million in 2004 — a compound annual growth (CAGR) of 13.2%. The report also projects unit growth will jump from 3.19 million units in 1999 to 6.59 million units in 2004, reflecting a CAGR of 15.6%.

In the European market, hard-wired surge suppressors are mostly modular DIN rail-mountable devices marketed almost exclusively as lightning protection devices.

“This differs from North America where plug-in devices are by far the most popular devices not only in terms of units, but dollars as well,” said Chris Lanfear, project manager for Venture Development's power conversion and control group.

According to the report, the top industry for hard-wired surge suppressors is manufacturing and process control, followed by the telecom, commercial building, government, utilities, education, health care, and military industries.