Feb
22

Eaton's power engineering courses, demonstrations and insights are now available on demand

Eaton's online training program, Power in Focus, is now available on demand. This online experience is packed with the education and training needed to power the electrical industry—and your career—forward. Eaton's on-demand portal includes classes with professional development hours from the Registered Continuing Education Program (RCEP). Watch our courses, see Experience Center device demonstrations and expert-led Q&A sessions at any time to learn from the experts who power what matters.

Whether your business is in commercial buildings, healthcare, data centers, electric utilities or industrials, Power in Focus is packed with the education and insights needed to power what matters – advancing the electrical industry and your career.

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

Go to Eaton's Power in Focus site: https://www.eaton.com/us/en-us/markets/eaton-experience-centers/power-in-focus.html

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68 Hits
Feb
08

Eaton releases Power Xpert SPD for connected surge protection

Eaton has released the Power Xpert SPD, the latest addition to its family of surge protective devices to help protect critical equipment.

The device has advanced monitoring display and communication capabilities in addition to historical surge logging. It's ideal for industrial environments where downtime caused by surge events is unthinkable.

The Power Xpert SPD enables customers to capture and categorize surge events by low, medium and high categories according to IEEE standard C62.41.

The connected solution enables customers to remotely monitor surge data in real time or store events in a log with time and date stamps they can use to predict future surge events or enact proactive maintenance of critical equipment.

The Power Xpert SPD is also designed to ensure the highest level of cybersecurity available to protect against potentially devastating cyberattacks. 

 P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the original full article at: https://www.automationmag.com/eaton-releases-power-xpert-spd-for-connected-surge-protection/

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195 Hits
Feb
01

President Biden's Vision for the Power Sector

President Joe Biden brings a marked shift in U.S. energy policy priorities, with clean energy being central to his plan.
President Joe Biden brings a marked shift in U.S. energy policy priorities, with clean energy being central to his plan. The Biden Plan to "Build a Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure and an Equitable Clean Energy Future" and "Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice" will launch a national effort aimed at creating millions of jobs, building modern and sustainable infrastructure, and delivering a clean energy future. According to the Biden campaign, the plans are designed to "modernize our nation's electric grid, making it smarter, more resilient, and ready to meet the changing needs of a net-zero greenhouse-gas-emissions economy." I've been asked several times recently what this plan includes, so I spent an entire day sifting through the Biden Plan and removing jargon in an effort to identify its key components. Its key provisions include following:







Infrastructure Investment

To build the next generation of the electric grid, President Biden will leverage existing infrastructure and rights-of-way, along roads and railways, to promote faster and easier permitting. The Biden Administration will also work with utilities to install advanced metering equipment; deploy electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, and upgrade transmission lines to support larger regional electric markets that can distribute renewable energy.

Clean Energy Innovation

The plan calls for infrastructure investments resulting in a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050. Specifically, the vision includes a carbon free power sector by 2035.

    • Creation of a new cross-agency Advanced Research Projects Agency on Climate (ARPA-C) to target affordable technologies to drive cost reductions in clean energy technologies, including battery storage, negative emissions technologies, next generation building materials, renewable hydrogen, and advanced nuclear.
    • Accelerate R&D on battery technology and domestic production capabilities, with a focus on developing the domestic supply chain of batteries for EVs and the grid to complement renewable energy resources.
    • Research investments and tax incentives for carbon capture and sequestration technologies, including lowering the cost of carbon capture retrofits for existing power plants.
    • Accelerate innovation in supply-chain resilience by investing in research to bolster and build critical clean energy supply chains in the U.S., addressing issues like reliance on rare earth minerals.
    • Investments in the national laboratories and high-performance computing capabilities.
    • Appoint FERC commissioners who will drive market reforms, like expanding regional electric markets, integrating renewables and demand-response, and promoting long-term infrastructure planning to achieve a clean energy economy.


Electric Vehicles


The plan aims to remove barriers to the use of EVs, including concerns about price, range, and access to charging stations.

    • Build a national electric charging system of 500,000 public charging outlets so that Americans can drive anywhere in the United States in an EV by 2030.
    • Help state and local governments plan for the widespread adoption of EVs.
    • Restoring the electric-vehicle tax credit and incentivizing businesses to shift their fleets to EVs. Additionally, Biden says that he will ensure that the U.S. Department of Energy invests $5 billion over five years in battery and energy storage technology, to boost the range and slash the price of electric cars.
    • The U.S. Department of Transportation will also provide an additional $1 billion per year in grants to ensure the charging stations are installed by certified technicians.
    • Convene the U.S. Departments of Energy and Transportation to coordinate on special demonstration projects, e.g. testing new highways that can charge EVs while in transit, and pilot projects that use EVs as mobile energy storage units. The Departments will provide grants to cities, towns, and counties that are open to piloting new kinds of charging infrastructure.
    • Enact policies to promote domestic manufacturing of EVs.
    • Workforce training like the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP).

Energy Efficient Buildings

The Biden Plan will reinstate tax credits for residential energy efficiency; it also expands tax deductions for energy retrofits, smart metering systems, and other emissions-reducing investments in commercial buildings.
    • Increase investment in low-income weatherization programs and key technologies like electric heat pumps.
    • Work with local and state governments and the private sector to expand the utilization of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE).
    • Reinstate the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which will expire in two years.

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the original full article at:  https://www.tdworld.com/utility-business/article/21151832/president-bidens-vision-for-the-power-sector

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142 Hits
Jan
18

5G: Opportunities and Challenges for Electric Distribution Companies

Electric utilities to be both users and participants in this new world of communications.

The advent of newer telecommunications technologies, such as 5G, is bringing to realization many new capabilities including wireless broadband services, low latency connectivity, and the ability to bring millions of internet connected devices — all of which will have a direct and indirect impact on electric distribution utilities.

There are realistic and practical opportunities for electric utilities to be both users and participants in this new world of communications. Utilities, regardless of their governance structure, business structure, or size, will have an opportunity to engage with these technologies. The level of participation will range from passive users to active partners, from pure infrastructure agents to collaborative contributors, and from pay-for-services rendered to possible owners of these capabilities.


The level of engagement utilities will have depends on a number of factors that will impact the relationship between utilities and communications providers. These generally include regulatory constraints, which may dictate the level of participation or ability to enter into commercial enterprise, corporate governance structure, the franchise or operating structure that sets the boundaries of what services can be offered to customers.

Additionally, there is the willingness that utilities will have to invest time, dedicate resources, and allocate capital — all of which translates to the potential financial, reputational, and service risk, as well as the opportunity to reap rewards that would be associated with the varying depth and breadth of the commercial arrangements.

The Promise of 5G

The fifth-generation wireless communications generation (5G) is based on the standards adopted by the International Telecommunications Council (ITC) and their third-generation partnership program (3GPP). It is an open, interoperable standard used by virtually all carriers. The major changes that this technology promises are improvements in the following requirements: speed, reduction in latency, higher bandwidth, greater capacity for connected devices, a targeted 99.999% uptime, the goal of 100% coverage, reduction in network energy usage, and up to 10-year battery life.

In terms of numbers, 5G speed will be up to 10Gbps peak data rate (a 10x to 100x improvement over 4G networks), latency will approach less than 1 msec (compared to 50 msec to 100 msec in 4G), there will be 1000x bandwidth increase per unit, and the network will support up to 100x the number of simultaneously connected devices.

The 5G map of functionality visually shows these areas that have been classified as massive internet of things (IoT) or machine type communications (mMTC), ultra-reliable and low-latency communications (URLLC), and enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB).



Providing ultra-reliable low-latency services for 5G with unattended data centers Source: J. Varga, A. Hilt, C. Rotter, and G. Járó

Operational Opportunities for Utilities to Leverage Carrier-Based 5G

While the primary focus for this new technology from a common carrier's perspective seems to center around broadband services, the most likely areas that will be important to electric utilities will be the increased capacity to support field area network needs for connected grid devices. The "Grid of Things" will greatly benefit from the connectedness afforded by the larger IoT.

"We plan to leverage our AMI network for connectivity needs, but that may change as we deploy more 'grid-edge' devices," said an executive of a mid-sized mid-Atlantic utility.

Low-latency services potentially offer the opportunity to leverage this technology to support mission critical applications, such as protective relay management, SCADA, and substation communications.

"Use of 5G can potentially provide SCADA and other system data over a cellular network versus a hard-wired solution through fiber or copper," said a general manager of a Connecticut public utility.

The high data rate mmWave wireless broadband services may be applied to augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR), an area where some utilities like Duke Energy and EPRI are actively leveraging, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that will improve asset management and visualization.

Utility-Owned/Private LTE

As technologies continue to provide improved performance capabilities, the industry demand for hardware, software, and services is driving the cost of these components further down the price curve. In many cases, utilities may already own frequency spectrums where these assets can operate and are exploring and deploying private LTE (PLTE). In the past few months, new frequency auctions in the 3550 MHz to 3700 MHz band were held in an area known as Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS). Approximately 400 licenses were obtained by 11 electric utilities (6 IOUs, 4 co-ops, and one Muni).

Challenges 5G Creates for Electric Utilities

There are key foundational elements for this new communications infrastructure that include the use of existing and higher frequency spectra. These are the low band (less than 1 GHz) and the mid band (1 GHz to 10 GHz). These are where most of the 4G and LTE systems currently operate, but 5G involves the introduction of the high-band (15 GHz to 95 GHz) spectrum or mmWave.

Because of the physics of propagation, the high-band network will require a dense array of communications elements, known as small cells. In general, 'small cells' are defined by both their range — that is, how far the signals they transmit and receive can travel — and in many cases, the number of simultaneous users they can support.

Given the proliferation of microcells and the drive for carriers and infrastructure firms, like American Tower, Crown Castle, and SBA Communications, to leverage existing structures like electric distribution poles there is an increasing need for greater standardization of issues such as regulatory requirements, policies, safety concerns, and aesthetics.

Regulatory Requirements

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has established key requirements through various orders: "Pole access also is essential to the race for 5G because mobile and fixed wireless providers are increasingly deploying innovative small cells on poles and because these wireless services depend on wireline backhaul. Indeed, an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 small cells will be constructed by the end of 2018, and these numbers are projected to reach 455,000 by 2020 and 800,000 by 2026."

To facilitate the deployment of small cells, the FCC adopted a streamlined process for the rollout of these assets including setting governance over shot clocks and guidance over local governance regarding spacing, equipment design, and aesthetic concerns. It also established a new pole attachment process that includes "one touch make-ready" (OTMR), in which the new attacher performs all make-ready work.

OTMR speeds up and reduces the cost of broadband deployment by allowing the party with the strongest incentive — the new attacher — to prepare the pole quickly by performing all of the work itself, rather than spreading the work across multiple parties. This also covers areas such as overlashing.

Source: Seattle City Light

In the United States, approximately 25 state legislators have enacted small cell legislation that streamlines the facilitation of these assets. These include applications to access public right of ways, caps on costs, and fees and shot clocks for consideration and processing.

Policies

Utilities like CPS Energy (CPSE) have put in place a set of policies that addresses best practices. They have established an Energy Pole Attachment Program to facilitate constructive dialog with attaching entities and ensure transparency: "CPSE standards provide for a non-discriminatory, consistent, and streamlined approach for the access and use of CPS Energy Poles in a manner that will facilitate the delivery of the variety of communication services offered today, as well as assist with speed-to-market processes for future technologies in a manner that is consistent with the safe and reliable operation of CPS Energy Facilities."

CPSE has a website for access to its pole attachment standard to facilitate this process.

Summary and Call to Action

The use of electric poles for placement of 5G mmWave small cells will happen. Electric utilities need to investigate, evaluate, and execute the following actions:

Fully understand the regulatory and legislative orders as they relate to OTMR requirements, shot clock, and reduction of barriers.
Follow the local governance guides that may apply in states where there is a policy or rule.
Develop internal policies and practices that comply with these regulations.
Establish collaborative relationships with carriers and tower installation companies.
Maintain equality and transparency.
Seek ways to collaborate on needs and services (that is, powering, access, and possible use of existing communications backhaul).

Acknowledgments

This article is a summation of work performed by EnerNex under a contract with Distribution Systems Testing, Application, and Research (DSTAR), which is a consortium of electric utilities, facilitated by GE's Energy Consulting business (General Electric International, Inc.), sharing the results of distribution research. 

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the original full article at: https://www.tdworld.com/overhead-distribution/article/21151981/5g-opportunities-and-challenges-for-electric-distribution-companies?utm_source=TW+TDW+Energizing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CPS210113071&o_eid=0371B9958123D7E&rdx.ident%5Bpull%5D=omeda%7C0371B9958123D7E&oly_enc_id=0371B9958123D7E

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Jan
11

The 10 Craziest Code Violations of 2020

Presenting the most bizarre electrical installation mishaps of last year that violated the NEC.

Suspended Ceiling Surprise 

Russ typically likes surprises, but not when they smack him in the head when he's removing suspended ceiling tiles. This junction box was just resting on top of the ceiling tile, and it fell right out when he slid the tile over. Surprise! Boxes must be supported in accordance with one or more of the methods specified in Sec. 314.23(A) through (H). These methods include: securely fastening the box to a surface; rigid support in the form of a brace; using nails or screws to fasten the box; using clamps, anchors, or other identified fittings; or even using support wires. There are no Code rules that permit simply resting the box on top of a removable ceiling tile. Installing a box in this manner could cause physical harm to the unsuspecting worker who moves that ceiling tile. It can also startle someone to the point where it knocks them off the ladder and results in serious injuries. Thankfully, this event did not result in any injuries. Another problem is the lack of cover for this box. Section 314.25 requires a cover, faceplate, lampholder, or luminaire canopy to be installed for a completed installation.


Holiday Hazard

This Christmas lighting display was quite a surprise. Russ discovered it on his way home from teaching class on a Tuesday night. While the gas station manager probably had good intentions, he clearly had no idea of the dangerous conditions he created by draping Christmas lights all over the gas pump island! Some of the light strings were swinging in the breeze and actually contacting the middle dispenser. Extension cords were strewn on the ground from the building to the island, and more cords ran from the island to the perimeter of the lot to illuminate rows of trees. In the photo, one of these orange extension cords is visible on the ground right in front of the pumps. Table 514.3(B)(1) describes the areas within 18 in. horizontally of these dispensers as Class 1, Division II. This Class 1, Division II location also includes the area 18 in. above grade level, extending 20 ft horizontally in all directions from the dispenser enclosures. Wiring and equipment installed in Class 1 locations must comply with Art. 501. These holiday lights and extension cords are not designed for use in hazardous locations. With no intention of being a "Grinch," Russ felt compelled to notify the Fire Prevention office about this unsafe display. The lights were removed the following day.

Airing Your Dirty Laundry

"This was taken from the second floor back deck of an apartment," says Stephen M. Daniels, president of Stephen M. Daniels Electrical Contractors in Lancaster, Pa. "The clothesline was tied to the triplex feeding the main electrical service." Although we cannot be 100% sure if these wires are covered by the scope of the Code, it certainly makes for a great conversation if they are. Section 230.9(A) requires service conductors installed as open conductors or multiconductor cable without an overall outer jacket to maintain a clearance of at least 3 ft from windows that are designed to be opened, doors, porches, balconies, ladders, stairs, fire escapes, or similar locations. Section 230.24(A) requires overhead service conductors to have a vertical clearance of not less than 8 ft above the surface of roofs. This vertical clearance above the roof is required to be maintained for no less than 3 ft in all directions from the edge of the roof. Lastly, Sec. 300.11(D) prohibits cable wiring methods from being used as a means of support for other cables, raceways, or nonelectrical equipment.

How Low Can You Go?

Russ wasn't 100% sure where the service point was for the service conductors installed overhead from the pole on the right-hand side of this building. It could be at the pole, line terminals of the meter, or at the splices on the wires entering the weatherhead. For this discussion, let's say the service point is at the pole. That being the case, the lowest point of the drip loop is way too low and is not NEC compliant. Section 230.24(B)(1) requires a minimum clearance of 10 ft from the lowest point of the drip loop to this sidewalk, which is accessible to pedestrians. These drip loop conductors are only 7½ to 8 ft above the sidewalk. Russ says he's average height and he could almost touch them while standing underneath and reaching up. A person just a little taller than Russ could easily reach them. Regarding another concern, there also appears to be some communications cables "hitching a ride" along the service raceway. This is a violation of Sec. 300.11(C) and Sec. 805.133(B). To be Code compliant, these cables must be independently secured and supported.

This Drives Me Plumb Crazy

As you can see by this photo, plumbers and electricians are still waging a never-ending battle for space. Russ didn't know who was here first, but the result is an installation with no clear working space as required by Sec. 110.26(A). For equipment such as switchboards, panelboards, and other equipment likely to be examined, adjusted, serviced, or maintained while energized, Sec. 110.26(A)(1) requires a minimum working space depth ranging from 3 ft to 5 ft, depending on conditions and voltage. The minimum width of the working space required by Sec. 110.26(A)(2) is 30 in., or the width of the equipment, whichever is greater. The minimum height required by Sec. 110.26(A)(3) for the working space extends from the floor, grade, or platform to a height of 6½ ft or the height of the equipment, whichever is greater. Working in crowded and cramped conditions such as this greatly increases the danger of the already hazardous job of working on energized electrical equipment. Building owners and managers need to recognize this threat and coordinate with all the building trades in an effort to prevent situations such as this from arising on their property.

Rogue Receptacle Installation

Brandon Spivey, owner of Event Horizon & Services in Nashville, Tenn., was kind enough to share this photo with us. He said, "The plugs were covered with a fabric panel with no other housing." Brandon also said he is "new to this all, and learning, but this seems like a Code violation." Brandon, you are correct. There are definitely Code violations here. Section 406.5 requires receptacles to be mounted in identified boxes or assemblies. Attaching receptacles to a couple of wooden blocks does not meet Code minimum requirements. It appears these boards were being used as some type of "box extender." A listed extension ring or listed box extender should have been secured to the flush-mounted box instead. The exposed energized terminals create a shock hazard and violate the rules of Sec. 406.5(I), which requires receptacles to be enclosed so that no live terminals are exposed to contact. The lack of a box cover for the outlet box is a violation of Sec. 314.25. According to Brandon, an equipment grounding conductor (EGC) run separately from the circuit conductors was connected to these isolated ground receptacles. This violates Sec. 250.146(D) and Sec. 300.3(B) if the EGC was not run with the circuit conductors.

Subpar Subpanel Feed

This photo was sent in by Eugene Lawrence with E-1 Electric LLC, in New Orleans. "We noticed this load center at a house in New Orleans," says Lawrence. "We were called out to check on a job done by others. These photos show what we found. They were trying to feed a subpanel. As you can see, the feeder cable coming out of the conduit is connected to an added 'wrong main.'" This was a great catch, Eugene. The original panelboard is not being used in a manner consistent for which it was designed and listed. Installing extra foot lugs on the bus bars and using circuit breakers from the wrong manufacturer violates the requirements of Sec. 110.3(B). The installers also failed to properly identify the grounded neutral conductor with white or gray as required in Sec. 200.6(B). Installing NM cables in PVC conduit located in an outdoor wet location such as this is a violation of Sec. 334.12(B)(4). Section 300.9 reminds us that "where raceways are installed in wet locations above grade, the interior of these raceways shall be considered to be a wet location."

Trespassers Beware!

Stephen M. Daniels, owner of Stephen M. Daniels Electrical Contractors of Lancaster, Pa., was kind enough to share this photo with us. "I was doing a service call for a dead circuit (forgive the pun), and took the panel cover off," said Daniels. "There were missing knockouts, which is how the furry panel guest got in. This is another reason why the Code calls for no open KO in panels or boxes." Russ could not agree more. Installing knockout seals is important for many reasons, including keeping trespassers out of the enclosure. Section 110.12(A) makes it clear that unused openings (except mounting holes and other openings such as drainage holes and air vents that are intended for the operation of the equipment) must be closed in a manner that provides protection substantially equivalent to the wall of the enclosure. Sealing up the unused openings also helps keep arcs and sparks from escaping (and possibly igniting) nearby combustible materials. Debris and liquids can also fall into unsealed and unused openings, causing damage to internal parts of the equipment. While the Code rules will not always prevent every critter from finding a way into enclosures, they will help minimize the possibility.

Unclamped Cable Collection

Who needs cable connectors when the cables can simply be shoved into the panelboard cabinet? This is obviously not the correct way to terminate NM cables in a panelboard cabinet. Section 312.5(C) is very clear when stating "each cable shall be secured to the cabinet, cutout box, or meter socket enclosure." There is an exception relieving this requirement for NM cables installed through sleeves entering the top of surface-mounted enclosures. However, the exception is not applicable to this installation. Similarly, Sec. 300.11(A) requires cables to be securely fastened in place. With no connectors used to secure these cables to this cabinet, we can say these cables are not securely fastened in place. Another violation here is the use of "tandem" or "twin" circuit breakers in this panelboard. This is a circuit-limiting, class CTL-type panelboard designed for only 12 circuits. Using circuit breakers and panelboards in a manner not consistent with their listing or labeling instructions is a violation of Sec. 110.3(B). For panelboards, Sec. 408.54 requires a design to prevent the installation of more overcurrent devices than that for which the panelboard is designed, rated, and listed. This could include notches on certain bus bars to accommodate only certain types of breakers.

Which Way is Up?

At first glance, Russ thought this circuit breaker was turned off. Upon closer examination, he realized it was in the ON position, despite the handle pointing in the down position. There are even two sets of ON/OFF labels facing in opposite ways that add to the confusion. For circuit breaker handles that operate in the vertical position instead of operating rotationally or horizontally, Sec. 240.81 requires the "up" position of the handle to be the ON position. This breaker is off when the handle is up and on when the handle is down. It appears this circuit breaker enclosure may have been designed to be installed upside down as well as right-side up. Installing a circuit breaker in this position may have been permitted at one point, but it has not been allowed for a very long time. It can lead to a terrible mistake if the user is not paying very close attention to the ON/OFF markings on the enclosure. Can you imagine what could happen in an emergency if this switch was accidentally thrown into the ON position when the operator thought he was shutting it off?

 P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the original full article at: https://www.ecmweb.com/national-electrical-code/violations/media-gallery/21148731/the-10-craziest-code-violations-of-2020/slideshow?slide=10

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235 Hits
Dec
14

The Eaton 2021 Learning and Development Guide is here

Eaton's 2021 Learning and Development Guide offers opportunities for creating personal development plans catered to your goals. Complete with course descriptions, class schedules, registration links, and recommended training plans that cover all experience levels, it's never too early to start developing your training strategy for the new year.  

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  355 Hits
355 Hits
Dec
03

Linemen scholarships winners from Nebraska, Kansas & Missouri!

The ILRA has been awarding scholarships to students in lineman training programs for nearly 20 years. 6 of the 9 winners are in the P3 territories! Join us in congratulating them. 

 Nearly 20 years ago, the International Lineman's Rodeo Association (ILRA) began awarding scholarships to well-deserving aspiring line program students. Today, the ILRA has given out $100,000 in scholarship money to future linemen nationwide. Each and every one of the recipients so far has had a successful career in the line trade, said Dennis Kerr, scholarship chair, which makes him proud of what the ILRA has accomplished through the scholarship program.

"Many of the scholarship recipients have competed at the International Lineman's Rodeo," Kerr said. "For example, one of the first winners works for Evergy, and for the last three years, he and his team have walked across the stage receiving many awards. One year, they were number one. It makes you feel good when you see that, and it said a lot about the program."

To apply for the scholarship, the candidates must submit a resume, personal essay and two letters of recommendation. The Scholarship Committee, including Kerr, who is retired from DTE; John Bircumshaw, retired from Rocky Mountain Power; Lawrence Kazmierski of Quanta Services; James Lake of Ameren Illinois; and Larry Aguayo of CPS Energy, then score the applications and select the winners.

When the scholarship program first began, Kerr expected to get all the applications from one school. Through personal outreach to many of the line school programs nationwide, however, he has received applications from across the country. For 2020, the ILRA even awarded scholarships to students from new programs, Kerr said. The following photo gallery showcases the 2020 winners for the ILRA Scholarship Program from states in P3's territory.

Alexandrea Bryant

Twenty-seven-year-old Alexandrea Bryant grew up with a strong interest in science and math and pursuing a career as a lawyer. While she has an immense respect for lawyers, however, she realized that she wouldn't be happy in a desk job. Since she was 15, she has worked at least two jobs to support herself and her brothers, and she has traveled around the country for different opportunities. She worked three jobs totaling 96 hours a week to save up for line school. "I want to be a lineworker for many reasons," Bryant said. "I want to be challenged physically and get out of my comfort zone. I know the value of hard work, grit and determination and having a career. I want to show my little brothers that anything is possible." 

Heston Kavanaugh

Nineteen-year-old Heston Kavanagh is pursuing a career in the line trade because he enjoys working outdoors. While he is aware of the conditions he will be working in and knows the work will be challenging, he said it will be well worth it. His brother works as an apprentice for Evergy in Pittsburg, Kansas, and he is looking forward to following in his footsteps. He is now in the power technology program at Pratt Community College following jobs working for a mechanic and a farmer. "I worked all throughout high school and maintained good grades," Kavanagh said. "I have a good work ethic and interact well with others."

Weston Pfeifer

When driving through the country after a major storm, eighteen-year-old Weston Pfeifer remembered seeing linemen working on the poles. From that point on, he knew he wanted to go into the line trade. "I knew this was for me," Pfeifer said. "My dream is to become a journeyman lineman at Midwest Energy."

Zachary Kearney

Twenty-five-year-old Zachary Kearney of Walnut Shade, Missouri, earned his bachelor's degree in multimedia communications and journalism and served as a Disney cast member before transitioning to preparing for a career in the line trade. "I always was stuck in the underlying feeling that what I was doing wasn't important," Kearney said in his application. "My Dad suggested that I become a lineman, and I thought of it to be an honorable career."

Boyd Cole

Nineteen-year-old Boyd Cole (shown with his class at Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City) decided to follow in his dad's footsteps by pursuing a career in the line trade. "I know it is demanding and dangerous, but it is also rewarding and has a good pay scale," Cole said. He is now pursuing his associate's degree in power distribution from Metropolitan Community College, and he said the scholarship will help with out-of-pocket expenses during his schooling.

Caden Adkins

Caden Adkins, the son of a lineman, has line work in his blood and has spent many years watching his father compete at the Rodeo. After graduating with his associate's degree in electric power distribution, Caden Adkins is looking forward to a career as an electrical lineman and eventually as a troubleshooter. Adkins, who has his eye on a future career with Wheatland Electric or Evergy, applied for the scholarship to help pay for his schooling. "I enjoy being outside and working with my hands," Adkins said.

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639 Hits
Nov
30

Eaton Experience Center training through an online, accredited education program.

Power engineering applications are growing more complex. That's why we're offering the best of our in-person Eaton Experience Center training through an online, accredited education program.

Learn the designs, technologies and installation best practices for today's most advanced power applications across 24 professional-development classes—and get credit for it with professional development hours from the Registered Continuing Education Program (RCEP) for select courses, from the experts who power what matters.



Take part in four on-demand learning tracks complete with Experience Center demonstrations and Q&A sessions designed to energize your career: 

        • Systems built to help ensure reliability and resiliency
        • Products and processes that power efficiency
        • Codes, standards and procedures that make safety a top priority
        • The latest in power engineering technologies

Two live Q&A sessions led by Eaton experts

Turn to our live mid-day and wrap-up Q&A sessions for deeper insights into today's most challenging power engineering applications.


Register now for this important educational and training event

Courses, product demonstrations and expert-led Q&A sessions kick off December 8. Be sure to join our welcome session at 9:45 a.m. EST.

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308 Hits
Nov
16

Trump Replaces FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee

President Donald Trump today named James Danly as Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Danly has served as a Commissioner since March 2020; prior to that he served as general counsel to the Commission since joining FERC in 2017. He will replace Neil Chatterjee as head of the agency that regulates interstate transmission of electricity and natural gas.

"It has been my utmost pleasure to have served under Neil Chatterjee, both as General Counsel and alongside him as Commissioner," Danly said. "I have learned a tremendous amount from his expertise and insight, and I am proud of the work we've been able to accomplish under his thoughtful watch.

"Neil has truly left his mark on FERC and the energy sector by brokering a significant agreement allowing us to move forward with liquefied natural gas terminals, which helped secure our American energy independence," Danly added. "He also made a lasting impact through his commitment to protecting competitive markets, modernizing our policies under PURPA, expediting the approvals of much-needed critical energy infrastructure and so much more. I thank Neil for his leadership, and I look forward to continuing to work with him in this new role."

Chatterjee, who joined the Commission in 2017 and served as Chairman from August to December 2017 and since October 2018, congratulated Danly on his appointment and said the Commission will be well-served by Danly's leadership.

"It's been the honor of a lifetime to serve as the Chairman of FERC alongside my colleagues and staff, who represent some of the most talented and hardworking professionals in the U.S. government," he said.

"During my tenure, we've faced challenges like overcoming the significant no-quorum backlog to grappling with an unprecedented global pandemic. But we've had a great many achievements as well, including bringing PURPA regulations in line with today's realities, building out our energy infrastructure and approving LNG terminals, unleashing the power of new technologies like storage and distributed energy resources, and most recently taking groundbreaking action to consider carbon pricing, just to name a few.

"All of these actions have significantly contributed to making American energy more reliable, resilient and accessible for the people we serve," Chatterjee said. "But our work – my work – at the Commission isn't over. I look forward to working with my friend, Chairman Danly, as well as the next Administration to continue to carry out our important mission." 

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Nov
05

eBook Download: Arc Flash Prevention Best Practices

Arc flash protection cannot be left to chance. By establishing a proactive and purposeful safety plan, electrical professionals can reduce electrical hazards in the workplace. This ultimately saves money, downtime, and, most importantly, lives.

In this eBook, get an overview of arc flash prevention best practices and how to improve overall outcomes in different applications. Topics include:

  • Three key safeguards against arc flash injury
  • Arc flash risk assessment considerations
  • How to choose the right arc flash PPE
  • And more

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

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392 Hits
Nov
02

Schneider Electric's Innovation Summit 2020

Here's what you can't miss

Thousands of industry experts, leaders, change-makers, partners, and customers from across the globe all in one virtual event – join us for Innovation Summit North America on November 10 from 1-3 p.m. ET. There's still time to sign up!

Innovation Summit 2020 is a can't-miss event. Here's why!

  • Get the latest market insights and innovations from Schneider Electric's Chairman & CEO, Jean-Pascale Tricoire.
  • Hear the latest trends, tech, and market strategies from industry thought leaders during our breakout sessions.
  • View live demos and experience in 3D our Innovation Hub, where you can see the latest solutions and technologies in action.


Here are some sessions we think you'd be interested in:

  • Buildings of the Future
  • Electricity 4.0 –The New Electric World
  • Building Sustainable & Resilient Edge Data Centers
  • Next Generation Industries
  • Imagine the Home of the Future
  • Services Partnerships Re-Imagined

View the full agenda and our speakers.



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319 Hits
Oct
22

NEC 2020 load calculation changes can make budgets more efficient and increase safety

Members of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently concluded discussions on updating Article 220.12 of the NEC (National Electrical Code) to align with a series of energy codes and to account for higher-efficiency lighting solutions in commercial and healthcare buildings.

Because many of today's lighting solutions are increasingly energy efficient, lower current demands exist for power systems. These efficiencies necessitate extensive revisions to the calculation table used to determine volt-amperes (VA) per square foot. Many commercial structures today are built to specific energy code editions or a standard established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). NEC 2020 updates now align the NEC with these energy codes, allowing for easier, more consistent installation in the field.

Not only do changes to Article 220.12 streamline industry codes and standards language, they also help design engineers create load calculations that recognize more efficient lighting loads. This, in my opinion, may result in lower infrastructure costs and help fund enhanced safety solutions. 

 P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the original full article at: https://www.eaton.com/us/en-us/company/news-insights/for-safetys-sake-blog/load-calculations.html

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Oct
05

WEBINAR: Examining the Differences Between 2002-2018 Versions of IEEE 1584

Examining the Differences Between 2002-2018 Versions of IEEE 1584 Webinar
Thursday, October 29, 2020

2:00 PM ET 

IEEE 1584 is the standard of care for predicting the impact of an electrical explosion on a worker under a set of specific conditions. The 2002 version of this IEEE Guide was revolutionary in its ability to quantify arcing current and incident thermal energy in a useful manner to properly set overcurrent protection and select PPE. However, a newer version of the guide was published in 2018. It is substantially different and believed to be more accurate. What are the key differences between 2002-2018 versions of IEEE 1584?
This webinar will provide you with the methodology that can be used to assess previous PPE selection as suitable or not suitable for your needs.

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Sep
24

Changes to the 2020 National Electrical Code

 The 2020 National Electrical Code (NEC) offers numerous changes that affect residential electrical installations. Get a review and analysis of key changes for dwellings in this Schneider Electric eBook. 


From four new and revised residential installation definitions to expanded GFCI protection for countertops and work surfaces, delve deeper into:
• Changing definitions
• Branch circuit requirements
• Updates for service equipment
• Wiring and equipment calculations

This resource also includes tips to help you boost your NEC expertise.

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Sep
17

Global Alliances Virtual Tour & Innovation Talk

Don't miss this Innovation Talk


Join Schneider Electric for a virtual tour of their edge data center solutions with the Alliance Partners. This session will feature demos of the latest Dell, HPE, and Cisco solutions for the edge computing solutions from the Innovation Executive Briefing Center.

Learn more >

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Sep
14

Eaton's New Pow-R-Line Xpert series: easier system integration through advanced metering.

Installing power distribution equipment is complex. With so many components to install, even "straightforward jobs" can get complicated. Eaton's made guarding the grid a lot less hassle. The new Pow-R-Line Xpert family of panelboards and switchboards simplifies installation through fully integrated advanced metering capabilities. That means less connecting of loose components and less time spent on each job.

Plus, the Pow-R-Line Xpert family does even more to help your customers monitor system health. With Eaton's advanced proprietary diagnostic algorithms, customers can discover anomalies, overloads and end-of-life breaker conditions before system shutdown. These predictive capabilities are a great service value-add and may help you increase service-call revenues. 

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Sep
08

NEC 2020 load calculation changes can make budgets more efficient and increase safety

Members of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently concluded discussions on updating Article 220.12 of the NEC (National Electrical Code) to align with a series of energy codes and to account for higher-efficiency lighting solutions in commercial and healthcare buildings.

Because many of today's lighting solutions are increasingly energy efficient, lower current demands exist for power systems. These efficiencies necessitate extensive revisions to the calculation table used to determine volt-amperes (VA) per square foot. Many commercial structures today are built to specific energy code editions or a standard established by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). NEC 2020 updates now align the NEC with these energy codes, allowing for easier, more consistent installation in the field.

Not only do changes to Article 220.12 streamline industry codes and standards language, they also help design engineers create load calculations that recognize more efficient lighting loads. This, in my opinion, may result in lower infrastructure costs and help fund enhanced safety solutions.

Article 220.12's new load calculations do more to help designers get it right the first time.
Thomas Domitrovich, vice president, technical sales

The 2020 change

Changes were made for healthcare and commercial buildings. In healthcare, the NEC's Code-making Panel 2 (CMP2) removed demand factors from the lighting load calculation. Hospitals are drastically different from the large facilities that were common 40 years ago. Today, the healthcare industry looks to smaller surgical and outpatient facilities, which require a different approach to lighting load calculations. In addition, CMP2 lacked the data from ASHRAE and other organizations needed to validate regulations reducing hospital lighting to 32 percent. Without the data required to permit the reduction, the derating values for hospital lighting were deleted.

In commercial buildings, VA per square foot values were reduced (with some exceptions) to align with occupancy energy codes. Examples of VA per square foot changes include banks from 3.2 to 1.3; hotels and motels from 2 to 1.7; garages from .5 to .3; hospitals from 2 to 1.6; courthouses from 2 to 1.4. Armories and auditoriums were raised from 1 to 1.7.
Also, commercial occupancies now align with those set by ASHRAE. The calculation table includes footnotes that help NEC users understand the change in occupancy-type designations and clarify older vs. newer occupancy types and language translations. Here are some designation examples:

  • Armories and auditoriums, considered gymnasium-type occupancies
  • Lodge rooms, considered similar to hotels and motels
  • Industrial commercial loft buildings, considered manufacturing-type occupancies
  • Banks, considered office-type occupancies
  • Garages and commercial storage, considered parking garage occupancies
  • Clubs, considered restaurant occupancies
  • Barbershops and beauty parlors, considered retail occupancies
  • Stores, considered retail occupancies
  • The rationale for change

While Article 220.12 has changed little since its NEC adoption in 1971, technology and sustainability initiatives have greatly advanced. Because of energy-efficient technologies for structures, LEED and other energy conservation efforts and energy codes and standards updates, the NEC needed to create parity.

Industry chatter regarding the size of service entrance equipment in relation to actual load, transformers and the like has been heard for at least the last two code cycles. Industry professionals realized that energy-efficient technologies had advanced to a point where load calculations were suspect of being grossly overestimated. Some in the industry claimed load calculation results no longer represented what happens in real-world applications thanks to technologies that use less energy, such as LED lights, fluorescents, high-efficiency transformers and variable frequency drives. Lower energy footprints impact the load calculations used to determine branch circuit size, feeders and everything else associated with power delivery, thus prompting the NEC to make changes that better ensure safety. 

The rationale for change

While Article 220.12 has changed little since its NEC adoption in 1971, technology and sustainability initiatives have greatly advanced. Because of energy-efficient technologies for structures, LEED and other energy conservation efforts and energy codes and standards updates, the NEC needed to create parity.

Industry chatter regarding the size of service entrance equipment in relation to actual load, transformers and the like has been heard for at least the last two code cycles. Industry professionals realized that energy-efficient technologies had advanced to a point where load calculations were suspect of being grossly overestimated. Some in the industry claimed load calculation results no longer represented what happens in real-world applications thanks to technologies that use less energy, such as LED lights, fluorescents, high-efficiency transformers and variable frequency drives. Lower energy footprints impact the load calculations used to determine branch circuit size, feeders and everything else associated with power delivery, thus prompting the NEC to make changes that better ensure safety.

The basis of ASHRAE alignment

When many structures are built, ASHRAE requirements adopted by a state or local jurisdiction dictate VA per square foot, and builders may not exceed those requirements. However, CMP2 understood that not every jurisdiction adopts the latest ASHRAE standard. Some states use older ASHRAE requirements, and some jurisdictions don't adopt the requirements at all. This played a factor in the language included in the NEC.

Lower VA per square foot values influence smaller feeder and service sizes, which, if incorrect, could be very expensive to fix after the fact. NFPA members looked at different types of buildings and ASHRAE research data. The task force associated with this effort plotted VA curves for buildings of various sizes. To gain consensus and achieve change, the NEC lowered the VA values somewhat to account for those jurisdictions that do not adopt the latest version of ASHRAE standards or other energy codes. A compromise was reached in using the 2000 version of ASHRAE 90.1 as the uniform reference for VA values.

Financial impacts and safety implications

Some industry professionals reported that, when placing an ammeter on a structure's service conductors, load currents showed a considerable margin between capacity and actual usage. Facilities typically consume less power due to higher-efficiency lighting equipment that's installed and conservative factors that design engineers may use to ensure future capacity for growth. (Energy-efficient solutions are not required by the Code but are installed because of the energy savings they offer.)

I believe it's important to include right-sized services in structures that meet design goals driven by customer wants and needs. The Code changes will offer financial relief for electrical infrastructures by foregoing equipment that's not needed—but the design engineer must always keep a close eye on the needs of the customer. The changes help the design engineer reduce the size of electrical distribution equipment where permitted by the design goals. This could translate into less wire and other related gear. With that, I hope a focus on providing safety technologies for our electrical workers will grow. Funding originally intended for power distribution can be reallocated to safety solutions for branch, feeder and service entrance equipment.

A thought on using the Code as a design guide

NEC Article 90 states that the Code should not be used as a design reference. Language in Article 220.12 exemplifies why. As mentioned, there's an informational note attached to 220.12. It states, "The unit values of Table 220.12 are based on minimum load conditions and 100 percent power factor and may not provide sufficient capacity for the installation contemplated." In essence, this means guidelines may not be sufficient for an installation. So, while the installation may be safe, it may not turn on because there isn't enough power to serve the load.

In my opinion, designers must focus on customer wants and create load calculations based on a distribution system's current and future needs. Many designers look to the Code before creating their designs, but they should do the opposite. I encourage all planners to meet customer wants and needs first and then check their designs against the Code to assure alignment.

Designers must focus on customer wants and create load calculations based on a distribution system's current and future needs.
Thomas Domitrovich, vice president, technical sales

What might the future hold?

While financial efficiencies and safety improvements were made, the NEC looks to do more to influence load calculations in healthcare environments and commercial structures.

Healthcare

Healthcare representatives believe load calculations are often high because, in an operating room, for example, many receptacles are installed. This makes sense—doctors never want to be without power options when lives hang in the balance. But the additional receptacles cause excessive infrastructure sizing. And practically speaking, many receptacles aren't used. The NEC is currently researching what, if anything, can be done to improve receptacle load calculations for hospitals and other occupancy types, such as clinics, medical offices and ambulatory care centers.

Commercial structures

A task group launched a research project in collaboration with the NFPA Research Foundation. The team is actively measuring the energy usage on receptacles in a variety of commercial buildings to determine if additional load calculation recommendations are an option. I believe the task group's report will heavily influence the public input phase for the 2023 code review.

Better calculations improve efficiency and safety

It's essential to strike a balance when calculating VA. If load calculations are too low, designers may likely plan for and install insufficient equipment, resulting in a situation that's expensive to fix after the fact. If load calculations are too high, it's possible to overpay for equipment that's not needed. I believe Article 220.12's new load calculations do more to help designers get it right the first time. The changes will help designers save money, which will hopefully inspire their clients to reallocate funds for the safety devices used to reduce maintenance on energized equipment in the field.

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See the original full article at: https://www.eaton.com/us/en-us/company/news-insights/for-safetys-sake-blog/load-calculations.html

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Aug
31

The US has more power outages than any other developed country. Here’s why.

As storms sweep the US this month, millions of people were left without power. The outages went on for days in some places. As infrastructure crumbles, such blackouts may become more common. Outages have been on the rise in recent decades, and utilities might be ill-prepared to take on the dual challenge of responding to intensifying weather events and upgrading aging facilities.

The oldest American power lines date back to the 1880s, and most of today's grid was built in the 1950s and 1960s with a 50-year life expectancy. When these poles, wires, and transformers went up decades ago, the system was initially overbuilt, with growing demand anticipated, says Alexandra von Meier, an electrical engineer at the University of California, Berkeley. But now, it's reaching capacity and old equipment is flickering out.

Estimates on just how bad the problem is vary, though. According to an analysis by Climate Central, major outages (affecting more than 50,000 homes or businesses) grew ten times more common from the mid-1980s to 2012. From 2003 to 2012, weather-related outages doubled. In a 2017 report, the American Society of Civil Engineers reported that there were 3,571 total outages in 2015, lasting 49 minutes on average. The U.S. Energy Administration reports that in 2016, the average utility customer had 1.3 power interruptions, and their total blackout time averaged four hours. The reason these estimates vary may be related in part to the fact that private utilities tend to be guarded about sharing data, according to Sayanti Mukherjee, a civil engineer focused on energy resilience at the University of Buffalo. "If you do a detailed analysis you will see all these sources are different," she says. "There is a lot of discrepancy."

According to one analysis, the United States has more power outages than any other developed country. Research by Massoud Amin, an electrical and computer engineer at the University of Minnesota, found that while people living in the upper Midwest lose power annually for an average of 92 minutes, those in Japan experience only 4 minutes of blackouts per year. In a comparison by the Galvin Electricity Initiative, the average utility customer in the U.S. spent more time with their lights out than eight other industrial countries.

On top of that, utility companies have been slow to perform crucial maintenance, let alone upgrade their systems. Trees are to blame for most outages: high winds send their limbs swingings into lines. In forested places, utility providers are on the hook to trim back boughs so they don't become a hazard in windy and stormy weather. It seems straightforward, but where there's a lot of vegetation this can be a big ask. In forested areas, "The single biggest cost [for electric utilities] is tree maintenance," says B. Don Russell, an electrical engineer at Texas A&M University.

Most Americans—about 68 percent—obtain their electricity through distribution systems managed by investor-owned utilities. By nature, an investor-owned utility is beholden to both its customers and its shareholders, and while customers may prioritize reliable power requiring expensive new equipment, shareholders are generally interested in profit. And that means companies might push replacements off as long as they can. "It's a private industry," says Mukherjee. "So besides caring for the customer, they look for profit … so they try to stretch the lifespan [of equipment] as long as possible."

Some also argue that the companies tend to favor investors over customers. "By and large, utilities are profit-seeking entities which are granted monopolies," says Mark Paul, an environmental economist at the New College of Florida. "What we've seen time and time again is that utilities effectively charge ratepayers for maintenance and then delay that maintenance. And instead, they prioritize shareholder dividends." A case in point, according to Paul, is Pacific Gas & Electric, which serves a large portion of northern California. Earlier this year, PG&E pled guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter after regulators found that the 2018 Camp Fire was sparked by their poorly-maintained equipment. "This is directly attributable to failure to engage in proper maintenance," says Paul.

If performing basic maintenance now is a struggle, things will only get worse in years to come. The Atlantic Ocean may see double a "normal" years' worth of hurricanes this year, and our extra hot summer could fuel intense blazes in the West (Colorado is already on fire, with over 125,000 acres burning as of Monday); in an August 1 fire outlook, the National Interagency Fire Center found high fire potential in the Great Basin, California, Pacific Northwest, and northern Rockies. The effects of climate change in a given region or year will vary, but overall we can expect weather extremes like wildfires and storms to grow more intense, bringing greater potential to disrupt our already-fraying electrical grid (among many other impacts). "We've become more vulnerable," says von Meier. "Climate change in coming decades is going to have a profound impact."

Upgrading the system is no small task, however. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the American electric grid is the largest machine on the planet.

Putting wires underground, in so-called grid "hardening," can go a long way in places prone to high winds and fire. Some utilities are putting in work toward the goal; in Southern California, San Diego Gas & Electric has started burying wires in areas at high risk of fires. But it's not cheap. Per PG&E's estimate, converting overhead lines to underground lines costs $3 million per mile in urban settings, and $1 million in less densely populated areas. "Undergrounding an electrical system is extremely cost intensive, and that's why the utilities don't want to do that," says Mukherjee. Implementing such an upgrade may therefore require governments to partner with companies and develop ways to offset those high up-front costs.

But simply performing better monitoring can also go a long way. "We need improved situational awareness and monitoring," Russel says. "Most of the systems respond after a failure has occurred… Now there have been systems developed that are capable of detecting failures at a much deeper level." In his research, he has worked on developing algorithm-based monitoring systems that can essentially watch electricity circuits for abnormal patterns. This monitoring can catch a dying component before it causes an outage. Russel says that some private utilities are starting to implement such monitoring.

Microgrids may be part of the solution, too. These systems are fed by distributed sources, such as solar panels or diesel generators, which can sustain power to a local network when the main grid dies. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, "Local solutions, such as distributed generation and resilient microgrids, may offer lower-cost alternatives to major system investments particularly in areas at elevated risk from severe weather or other natural disasters." von Meier adds that microgrids can help keep the lights on in the event of a cyberattack on the main grid, too. But it's not a perfect solution. "When you think about who those [microgrids] are most accessible to, it tends to be high-income consumers," says Paul. "It's a failure to address what is a much broader issue."

Paul envisions a more system-level change. One part of that is strengthening the government entities—public utility commissions—that are tasked with regulating private utilities. While many other countries, including European nations and New Zealand, regulate electric distribution at the national level, in America that task is covered by a patchwork of state and local entities. Paul says that these commissions are highly influenced by lobbying. "Closing the revolving door is essential." Cities unhappy with their private electricity provider can also launch their own utility, giving residents a public option. This in turn puts pressure on private utilities to do better, as they would likely lose customers.

In the long-term, the hefty costs of upgrading electric facilities may be worth it. In the case of undergrounding wires, for example, Mukherjee says that those investments will pay off in 30 years by avoiding the economic costs of large-scale outages. While the lights are on over 99 percent of the time, sudden outages still cost at least $150 billion a year. Perhaps it's time to upgrade this aging system. 

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See the original full article at: https://www.popsci.com/story/environment/why-us-lose-power-storms/

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Aug
17

Iowans Continue To Struggle Following Deadly Derecho

Thousands of Iowans are still coping with the aftermath of a storm that pummeled the state last Monday with 100-mile-per-hour winds — a storm that flattened corn and soybean crops, damaged grain elevators and leveled banks, churches and homes.

More than 158,000 Iowans were still without power as of Friday evening, according to Iowa Public Radio. By Sunday morning, more than 98,000 continued to lack power, according to the monitoring site PowerOutage.US.

"The devastation is widespread. It's intense. Block after block of houses, every one with some amount of damage. Trees piled 6 to 10 feet high along the road. It's like walking through a tunnel of green with some fluorescent orange of placard houses that are unsafe to enter," Tyler Olson, a city council member from Cedar Rapids, told NPR's Weekend Edition on Saturday. "The city itself has been working hard to get roads cleared, so that has taken place in many parts of the city. But we're still without power. The majority of our citizens are without power."

The storm system that flattened crops and toppled trees is called a derecho, a particularly damaging and severe kind of wind storm that can cause hurricane-force winds, tornadoes and heavy rains. As many as 14 million acres of farmland were damaged by the storm, The New York Times reported.

"It's by far the most extensive and widespread damage that we've seen on this farm," Aaron Lehman, who grows corn and soybeans in Polk County in central Iowa, told Harvest Public Media. Lehman, who serves as president of the Iowa Farmers Union, said the damage was worse than a typical tornado.

"Unlike a tornado, which is a mile wide, this stretched for a width of really intense damage — of approximately 40 miles, probably closer to 60-70 miles wide," he said.

In Cedar Rapids, some families were left living in tents. At one badly damaged apartment complex, displaced children played outside amid shredded shingles, rusting nails and the chunks of fiberglass insulation, Iowa Public Radio reported.

"I didn't hear no sirens until our electricity went off. And then we went out and looked out the window and then it just all happened," said 14-year-old Lenberg Phillip in an interview with Iowa Public radio. "We were just watching out the window and then minutes later the roof came off."

Olson says they're still hoping to get a presidential disaster declaration.

"We need electricity," Olson said. "The [Iowa] National Guard arrived a couple of days ago to assist with utility with power back on, but we have citizens without food, without medicine. And we're working as hard as we can as a city to meet those needs but we really need the federal government and their resources." 

President Donald Trump has not signed an emergency declaration yet. On Tuesday, he tweeted: "Sad to see the damage from the derecho in Midwest. 112 mile per hour winds in Midway, Iowa! The Federal government is in close coordination with State officials. We are with you all the way - Stay safe and strong!"

At a press conference in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said the soonest she'd be able to submit an application for a disaster declaration is on Monday, according to Iowa Public Radio.

"We're moving forward, we're coordinating efforts, we're working with the local emergency managers and working with city officials and the mayor," Reynolds said. "They're on the ground. They need to let us know how we can supplement and help them with the work that they're doing and that's how we can efficiently and effectively serve citizens."

This all comes as Iowa continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While the rate of infections appears to be decreasing, now averaging 458 new cases a week with more than 52,000 cases and 975 deaths, experts are worried about how the state will be able to handle two disasters at once.

"[The pandemic] has complicated relief efforts," Olson said. "It's hard to gather people together. It's hard for repair companies, insurance adjusters, to go into homes. Obviously protections that are in place because of the pandemic. And it really, the city's resources were strained before in trying to deal with that and now we're dealing with this probably historic disaster."

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See the original full article at: https://www.npr.org/2020/08/16/902868884/the-devastation-is-widespread-iowans-continue-to-struggle-in-aftermath-of-storm#

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Aug
10

Nebraska utility won’t convert power plant to run on hydrogen

A customer that planned to sell surplus hydrogen to the Nebraska Public Power District finds another buyer instead.
Correction: Monolith Materials expects to start operating a small demo plant next year but the full factory isn't expected to come online until 2024. An earlier version of this story misstated the timeline.

Nebraska's largest electric utility and the manufacturer that will soon be its largest private customer have agreed to abandon a potentially innovative plan to partially convert an aging fossil fuel power plant to run on hydrogen.

The Nebraska Public Power District in 2018 said it had contracted with Monolith Materials to buy all of the hydrogen byproduct produced at a new factory under construction near the utility's 225-megawatt Sheldon Station power plant, about 20 miles south of Lincoln. The power district planned to convert a 120-megawatt boiler to burn hydrogen, something that's never been done before.

In a joint statement this month, though, NPPD and Monolith said a better suitor had been found to purchase the hydrogen, which will result from manufacturing carbon black from natural gas.

"It was determined that there are alternative uses for the hydrogen that will yield greater economic benefit for the State of Nebraska, the southeast region of the state and for Monolith. NPPD understands and supports the practical business decision made by Monolith," the statement says.

Monolith would not identify the alternative use nor the other buyer.

The decision leaves major questions about how the companies will meet a commitment to source all of the factory's electricity from carbon-free sources. A demo plant is scheduled to start operating next year with the full plant online by 2024.

NPPD spokesperson Mark Becker said clean energy resources to power the Monolith plant "have not been determined at this time."

NPPD President and CEO Tom Kent said he regretted that the company has lost the opportunity to potentially generate carbon-free electricity from a new technology, but he conceded it may have been a stretch at the scale it was proposing at the Sheldon plant.

Kent didn't rule out fueling part of the plant with hydrogen at some point. The utility may also explore carbon capture and storage, advanced biofuels, and battery storage, he said. But for now, the plan is to stick with fossil fuels.

"Our current plan is to continue to operate the facility in its current configuration," Kent said. "We are still looking at various opportunities with other types of technology moving forward."

John Crabtree, who represents the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign in Nebraska, has in mind a different alternative: closing Sheldon Station.

Several years ago, the Sierra Club urged NPPD to shutter Sheldon Station, which has units built in 1961 and 1968, because the utility has substantially more generation than it needs. In June, for example, Southwest Power Pool figures indicate the the NPPD had 244 MW of excess capacity, as pointed out by John Romankiewicz, a senior analyst with the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. That's about 20 MW more than Sheldon capacity.

The utility wasn't ready to let go, and proposed the Monolith project as a "last huzzah" for Sheldon, Crabtree said. "Monolith was an effort to repurpose Sheldon Station instead of retiring it."

The power district said at the time that it never would burn coal in the plant again, according to Crabtree. It apparently did not rule out natural gas, which the turbines also are equipped to burn.

With hydrogen power off the table, Crabtree thinks it's time for NPPD to evaluate Sheldon's future, to resume the conversation he said was terminated when Monolith and hydrogen entered the picture. The utility's board of directors voted in June to hire two consultants to do separate analyses of the possible impact of various federal policies regarding CO2 emissions.

"Resource plans will be developed based on low cost, resilient and reliable criteria for CO2 scenarios that range from no CO2 reductions to NPPD becoming net CO2 neutral by 2050," Becker said.

Reports are due by the end of the year.

With the hydrogen plan no longer an option, Crabtree said, "that sort of pushes Sheldon up near the top of that page." 

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See the original full article at: https://energynews.us/2020/07/23/midwest/nebraska-utility-wont-convert-power-plant-to-run-on-hydrogen-after-all/

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