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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Jul
06

Utility Outages Prediction and Vegetation Management

 What if you could more precisely predict outages and infrastructure damage to optimize restoration efforts and minimize disruption? Using advanced predictive models allows you to predict more than just the number of outage tickets.


Watch this on-demand webinar by IBM and learn how to take a smarter, more proactive approach to outage management by utilizing a better and more accurate view of weather, vegetation insights and damage forecasts.

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Jun
29

When and Where to Install a Power Quality Monitor

Basic guidelines on how to quickly pinpoint electrical problems with and without PQ monitors

Having and using the proper tool for the job is always the tradesperson's main objective when working a project. Power quality (PQ) monitoring is no different.

When I began my career in this field, it was easy to set up a PQ monitor and let it record for two weeks, hoping to capture data. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing — data, that is. I'd like to share some basic guidelines on how to quickly pinpoint electrical problems with and without PQ monitors.

Tip No. 1. Inspect the electrical installation for damage, wear, equipment installation mistakes, and NEC wiring violations. All of these problems can manifest as a PQ anomaly, causing equipment misoperations. Wiring violations to be on the lookout for are downstream neutral-to-ground bonds past where the NEC allows and grounding errors in separately derived systems. These two specific violations likely cause many types of equipment misoperations. Repairing all wiring problems before monitoring will save countless hours of data analysis.

Tip No. 2: If the customer only had one equipment misoperation in the last year, setting a monitor may not provide you with the data to understand equipment sensitivity since you would need another event to occur. The most beneficial first step is to contact the serving electric utility to investigate the date and time of the past event. Most electric utilities have all circuit breaker operations logged, and they know the speed of the circuit breaker opening. For example, a distribution circuit breaker may open in 30 cycles, whereas a transmission circuit breaker may open in 6 cycles. (Note: These are only examples; each electric utility has different protection settings). Mitigation can be selected based on how sensitive the equipment was to that event, either at the distribution or transmission level.

Tip No. 3: Ongoing problems are the most ideal for setting PQ monitors and getting the most out of the tool. It is always helpful to set multiple PQ monitors to collect data. The two best locations are at the main service and the equipment. By using two monitors, you will be able to isolate internal and external problems quickly. Set the monitor to record long enough to capture a few events. Remember that when you set a monitor, it will record many different events. Most events may not even cause a problem with the equipment so don't get bogged down by data. This is why a log must be kept near the equipment to record the time and date of each misoperation. Using that log look for PQ events or low/high voltage that correlates with the misoperations to identify the best correction or mitigation type.

These basic tips should save you many hours of mind-numbing data analysis and help identify the problem faster.

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See the original full article at: https://www.ecmweb.com/power-quality-reliability/monitoring-measurement/article/21133461/when-and-where-to-install-a-power-quality-monitor

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Jun
22

Updated Practical Guide to Data Center Planning & Design Booklet

​Schneider Electric and P3 are dedicated to providing you with the best products and services and the tools to utilize them. To ensure customers and potential customers have the most accurate and current information on the ever progressing field of data center design, we offer the latest update to the Schneider Electric Practical Guide to Data Center Planning & Design as a FREE download. Click the cover image link below to down load your copy of this informative publication.

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