On the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Gulf Coast residents watched as Category 1 Hurricane Isaac bore down on the New Orleans region, evoking memories of the costliest U.S. hurricane disaster on record. On Aug.
Much of the smart grid’s strength lies in its use of wireless technology to improve monitoring, information flow and efficiency. As powerful as that combination may be, a couple of California utilities have taken it to a new low. That is to say they have taken it underground.
For the electrical contractor (EC), finding a role in the smart grid shouldn’t be a matter of “wait and see.” Now is the time to prepare for this growing opportunity. If your work involves building automation and lighting controls, you are well on your way.
With the Institute of Electric Efficiency reporting more than 36 million smart meters installed from 2007 through May 2012 and a target of 65 million by 2015, it appears that smart meters are here to stay.
On most distribution networks (except maybe in rural areas), the voltage levels typically reduce to a couple of percentage points from nominal when the sun rises, people wake up and they start using more electricity. Conversely, as the sun sets, the voltage creeps back up, and by 10 p.m.
The headquarters for Burbank (Calif.) Water and Power (BWP) has slowly transformed into a green campus. The effort involved repurposing some of the utility’s decaying old facilities, which, in some cases, were more than 100 years old.
One of renewable energy sources’ biggest challenges is the intermittency of power generation. Finding a way to store power for later use helps make renewables more practical for tying into the grid where demand does not always coincide with the wind or the rising sun.
Strict regulations to limit the toxic air emissions from coal-fired plants in the United States are working. Many utilities striving to meet these tighter standards are finding they can’t afford the high costs of upgrades and retrofits to their aging facilities.
Electric utilities, especially those owned by investors, are odd ducks in our capitalistic society. Because they are state-sanctioned monopolies, their profits are regulated by public utilities commissions (PUCs).
Most utility reserve margins are adequate to meet peak demands. That is the assessment of the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) as the nation has hit the summer months in which heat can strain supplies.
U.S. electric utilities are installing huge numbers of advanced electric meters across the country. These devices promise to enable new demand-response and time-of-use pricing schedules and improve overall distribution system performance.
In the long-running battle for the nation’s energy soul between green power and fossil fuels, victories are taken in measure. Despite their emergent success in recent years, renewables still have a long way to go to become the predominant power source.
As the global population grows and its energy use expands, consumers, policy-makers and utilities look to city leadership for models of effective program planning, design and implementation that help tackle the challenges that accompany expansion.
Business still may be slow for many electrical contractors, with much of the construction industry remaining in the doldrums, but electrical pros specializing in major transmission work are experiencing a boom.