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Power Update Archive


2015 Power Updates

  •  December 2015
    FEATURE: Today, the US is more dependent than ever on reliable electric power for residential, commercial and industrial use. Fewer than 3% of the nation’s transformers in US substations are high voltage power transformers, but they carry 60-70% of the nation’s electricity, so an attack on these critical pieces of equipment could be devastating.This is why 350 utilities and 4,000 people took part in the recent GridEx III "war games". The exercise was designed to test the cyber and physical security readiness of the North American electric grid, including the availability and mobility of large power transformers. >> Read more 
  •  November 2015
    FEATURE: In August of 2007, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) released its ‘Modern Grid Benefits’ report for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. It’s a useful look at the seven principal characteristics that NETL identified eight years ago to launch the grid transformation.Now that the future is here, how do we stack up? We asked Gary Rackliffe, Vice President of ABB Smart Grids in North America, to answer that question and share his views on where he thinks the power industry is headed. >> Read more

  •  October 2015
    FEATURE: Many companies are seeing significant reductions in maintenance budgets and expert resources, as well as new, tougher regulatory requirements and higher expectations from shareholders. This new reality requires a fresh approach to transformer management – instead of maintaining the status quo, different methodologies must be implemented. The answer is the much more efficient approach of condition-based maintenance. With this method, the units that need maintenance are prioritized based on risk and importance, and money is spent where it is needed most. >> Read more


  •  September 2015
    FEATURE: Resiliency has become a major topic in our industry as a result of catastrophic events, resulting in major power system degradation. These events have caused power loss for millions of customers, long outage periods and exposed the need for a more resilient grid. This issue of IEEE Power & Energy’s magazine features six articles on resiliency, which take a thorough look at the catastrophic events themselves, the ensuing responses and the resiliency plans put in place to mitigate future events. >> Read more

  •  August 2015
    FEATURE: In November 2014, a large North American utility experienced a quiet disaster. A month earlier, third-party contractors at the new power distribution center installed a cable improperly. When the utility energized the facility, the cable triggered an arc event. Uncontrolled, it could have severely damaged the building, its equipment, and the workers inside. But the utility had purchased arc-resistant equipment that contained the entire energy discharge inside of a 2B certified cubicle. >> Read more

  •  July 2015
    FEATURE: A report prepared by The Brattle Group for the Advanced Energy Economy Institute, a leading consulting firm to utilities and grid operators, finds that high penetration levels of renewable generation are not only technically feasible, but are already being managed without compromising reliability of electric power service. This suggests that an increasing share of renewable energy can be integrated into the nationwide electricity system going forward. >> Read more


  •  June 2015
    FEATURE: The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated that 61 GW of coal-fired capacity would retire by 2020. And coal is not alone. The EIA projects that substantial amounts of nuclear generation will retire after 2030. Many of these plants are owned and operated by smaller utilities that may have no institutional experience with retiring a power plant. Far from representing a reduction in work and management, selecting a plant for retirement creates a whole new set of challenges on top of existing day-to-day concerns. >> Read more

  •  May 2015
    FEATURE: Electricity can be found everywhere, from the ubiquitous and mundane applications that are so easily taken for granted, to the largest and most complex of systems. The electricity supply has, in little more than a century, become the most important enabler of human activity and business.  >> Read more

  •  April 2015
    FEATURE: Taking advantage of the opportunities emerging from the utility and grid of the future requires a carefully coordinated and integrated portfolio of new and existing solutions that must encompass technology, infrastructure, regulation, policy and business aspects. >> Read more

  •  March 2015
    FEATURE: The people responsible for managing urban electric utilities are presented with a set of special challenges beyond those that face managers of suburban or rural substations. There are few pieces of distribution equipment designed specifically to meet the needs of urban substations. However, some technologies deliver solutions that are especially valuable to this market. >> Read more

  •  February 2015
    FEATURE: The people responsible for managing urban electric utilities are presented with a set of special challenges beyond those that face managers of suburban or rural substations. There are few pieces of distribution equipment designed specifically to meet the needs of urban substations. However, some technologies deliver solutions that are especially valuable to this market. >> Read more

  • January 2015
    FEATURE: Grid evolution, emerging markets and broader regional cooperation continue to shape the multi-year Strategic Plan of the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO). The 2015-2019 Strategic Plan is a five-year blueprint for addressing market dynamics, incorporating long-term strategic objectives, financial discipline and operational priorities. >> Read more

2014 Power Updates

  • Power update - December 2014
    FEATURE: The rise of cyber-attacks as a threat to critical infrastructure has been met with a broad response across the public and private sectors, and nowhere is this more evident than in the electric power industry. >> Read more

  • Power update - November 2014
    FEATURE: There has been much discussion over disruptive technologies for utilities, which can significantly change their operating business models. One such topic is distributed generation/roof top PV. >> Read more

  • Power update - October 2014
    FEATURE: As utility needs evolve, so do the solutions for solving today’s power challenges, such as how to maximize equipment longevity with the appropriate maintenance, while simultaneously maximizing high voltage equipment uptime at the peak rate. >> Read more


  • Power update - September 2014
    FEATURE: It’s clear that wind and solar will play an increased role in how power is generated and distributed as America’s power landscape evolves toward more diversified sources of generation and a more decentralized set of distributed energy resources. >> Read more

  • Power update - August 2014
    FEATURE: Are you ready for the next big storm? In 2012, storms Irene and Sandy devastated communities in the North­east, leaving lingering and haunting questions of how to pre­pare for a future where massive storms may occur with greater frequency and intensity. >> Read more
  • Power update - July 2014
    FEATURE: No one really expects coal to remain king for too much longer in the U.S. And the skyrocketing rate of retiring coal plants is a good indicator. >> Read more

  • Power update - June 2014
    FEATURE: Utilities need more transmission and distribution capacity and they need it now. Unfortunately, it is just not that easy to add transmission or distribution lines to the grid. >> Read more

  • Power update - May 2014
    FEATURE: Many utilities and regulators are seeing signs of trouble on the horizon. “As we see the gap between available generation and peak electric demand become tighter over time, it becomes increasingly important to deliver new power resources to the grid as quickly, reliably, and cost-effectively as possible,” said ERCOT CEO Trip Doggett. >> Read more

  • Power update - April 2014
    FEATURE: Fixing up our infrastructure provides a great opportunity to use ‘new’ technologies that have been developed over the last several decades. The alternative is to stick with past practices and face continual degradation of the grid as hurry-scurry patchwork is done for increasing emergencies. Our industry has new challenges. >> Read more
  • Power update - March 2014
    FEATURE: System restoration from black-start generation resources requires advance planning, careful coordination, and close communication. The more widespread the area affected, the greater the need for prioritized synchronization among generators, transmission providers, load-serving entities and system operators. >> Read more

  • Power update - February 2014
    FEATURE: A decade after the largest blackout in the country's history, smart grid devices known as phasor measurement units (PMUs), or synchrophasors, are opening the eyes of grid operators everywhere. >> Read more

  • Power update - January 2014
    FEATURE: Utilities need more transmission and distribution capacity and they need it now. Unfortunately, it is just not that easy to add transmission or distribution lines to the grid. >> Read more

2013 Power Updates

  • Power update - December 2013
    FEATURE: Electric utilities have spent billions of dollars and made huge strides toward strengthening their systems against natural disasters, as well as man-made attacks. However, the fact remains the geographic and physical nature of these networks makes them vulnerable targets. >> Read more

  • Power update - November 2013
    FEATURE: While weather events like Hurricane Sandy grab national headlines, they aren't the only threat to transmission grids. The Northeast Blackout of 2003, one of the largest in U.S. history, is said to have been caused by unpruned foliage and a faulty alarm system that failed to alert control room operators of the need to reroute power.  >> Read more

  • Power update - October 2013
    FEATURE: Prioritizing and optimizing asset management. Asset-intensive industries depend on efficient and effective maintenance, repair, overhaul and eventual replacement of all assets to ensure strong returns on capital. >> Read more 

  • Power update - September 2013
    FEATURE: Smart grid: Beyond smart meters. Despite a sluggish US economy, smart grid spending remains on the rise. The newest trends in smart grid technology, surprisingly, are not centered on AMI, but rather non-consumer applications. >> Read more

  • Power update - August 2013
    FEATURE: Improve power plant efficiency and become emission-compliant. As world energy demand recovers, it continues to drive power generation projects into ever expanding geographic regions and new areas of technology. >> Read more
  • Power update - July 2013
    FEATURE: Want a more resilient city? Superstorm Sandy was a watershed moment in North America. It forced cities to confront the realities of climate change. Severe weather events will be much more common in the future. >> Read more
  • Power update - June 2013
    FEATURE: High voltage breaker health assessment allows proactive maintenance. Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E), a subsidiary of Iberdrola USA, requires an extremely reliable infrastructure to provide electricity to more than 367,000 customers and gas to more than 303,000 customers. 
    >> Read more
  • Power update - May 2013
    FEATURE: Moving smart grid to the field: Important considerations when moving beyond smart metering. While a wide variety of applications have been associated with smart grid technologies, to date only advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) has seen widespread deployment in the field. 
    >> Read more
  • Power update - April 2013
    FEATURE: Control transformer costs. Aging assets, rising energy demand and the critical need to avoid unplanned outages are challenging electric utilities and industries in North America and around the world. >> Read more
  • Power update - March 2013
    FEATURE: Tricked out substations. Utilities are taking advantage of advancements in technology to design and build substations with improved reliability, higher ratings, smaller footprints, increased automation and reduced requirements for maintenance labor. >> Read more
  • Power update - February 2013
    FEATURE: What's the next big smart grid investment in North America?* In this exclusive interview, Gary Rackliffe, VP of ABB’s smart grids in North America, discusses the “emerging markets” of utility analytics and asset management. >> Read more
  • Power update - January 2013
    FEATURE: Rx for transmission networks. American Electric Power (AEP) has selected ABB's Asset Health Center solution to improve performance and reliability of its electric transmission networks in all of its transmission substations. >> Read more

2012 Power Updates

  • Power Update - December 2012
    FEATURE: What does the world’s first reuse of electric vehicle batteries as energy storage mean for smart grid? Did you know that, in most cases, when a Chevy Volt EV (electric vehicle) battery reaches the end of its life in an automotive capacity only 30% or less of its life will be used? >> Read more

  • Power Update - November 2012
    FEATURE: The case for a distributed, smarter, cleaner power grid post Hurricane Sandy. The power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy on the east coast highlight the need for a much greater investment in smart grid technology, energy storage systems, clean power >> Read more

  • Power Update - October 2012
    FEATURE: Like the plot of an action movie: transformers save the day. The electric grid, which keeps beer cold, houses warm, and city traffic from turning to chaos, depends on about 2,100 high-voltage transformers spread throughout the country. >> Read more

  • Power Update - September 2012
    FFEATURE: Advanced IP surveillance system secures agricultural farm. In our technology driven society, network management has become very important – so important, that it has even reached into the agricultural industry. >> Read more

  • Power Update - August 2012
    FEATURE: War of the currents: An update. Sometimes technological advancement is not about a new discovery, it is about steady progress, hard work and improvement of existing technologies. >> Read more

  • Power Update - July 2012
    FEATURE: Transformers transformed. Every year, a number of transformer failures result in a fire. Because the transformer's insulating fluid is flammable, fires can be sustained for several hours or days. >> Read more

  • Power Update - June 2012
    FEATURE: Reduce arc flash hazards. Arc flash mitigation in our electrical equipment has become a major safety focus throughout the industry. >> Read more

  • Power Update - Wind Edition - May 2012
    FEATURE: Advanced Technologies: Solving Transmission Needs. From NA Windpower: As the U.S. continues to debate energy policy, the list of needed upgrades and repairs to the country's electric transmission grid continues to grow. >> Read more

  • Power Update - May 2012
    FEATURE: The networked grid 2012: Can it all work together? With utilities releasing data on efficiencies that have been gained through smart grid updates, the value of this emerging technology is starting to be revealed. >> Read more

  • Power Update - April 2012
    FEATURE: Improving smart grid ROI with distributed energy resources. The long-term objectives of the smart grid are to dramatically increase grid utilization, reliability, and efficiency; >> Read more

  • Power Update - March 2012
    FEATURE: How to make U.S. distribution systems self-healing. In the power system, a majority of faults occur in the distribution network, often resulting in the direct interruption of the supply of electricity to customers. >> Read more

  • Power Update - February 2012
    FEATURE: Asset attention – protect your equipment against unplanned outages. Why are classic preventative maintenance practices ingrained in today's power industry culture when there are newer, predictive, condition-based, and reliability-centered alternatives that can provide more value? >> Read more

  • Power Update - January 2012
    FEATURE: Microgrids poised for macro use. From data centers to developing countries, microgrids offer an enticing solution for self-sufficient power. >> Read more

2011 Power Updates

  • Power Update - December 2011
    FEATURE: Killer App: Distribution management at the smart grid frontier. The computer bank at Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) promises to change everything. Equipment racks loaded with 100 computer servers are running the software for a new distribution >> Read more

  • Power Update - November 2011
    FEATURE: Thought leaders wanted. Looking for a platform to showcase your original research or compelling application-based examples related to industry-focused automation and power solutions? >> Read more

  • Power Update - October 2011
    FEATURE: Invisible power lines? Certainly. Now more than ever, we need additional transmission lines to integrate renewable energy into the grid. >> Read more

  • Power Update - September 2011
    FEATURE: Improving your wind project's rate of return Did you know that the Generator Step-Up (GSU) transformer stepping up the generator-output voltage on every wind turbine >> Read more

  • Power Update - August 2011
    FEATURE: How to build a strong business case for smart grid volt/VAR control on distribution systems Today's emphasis on implementing energy efficiency programs and limiting peak demand growth has renewed interest in implementing volt/VAR control >> Read more

  • Power Update - July 2011
    FEATURE: Balancing reliability with security In the past decade, substation automation, protection, and control systems have changed significantly. This transformation promises to continue as increasing demands on the utility infrastructure mandate >> Read more

  • Power Update - June 2011
    FEATURE: Straight from WindPower 2011: Five key characteristics to make wind farms more profitable Wind power comes with a few significant challenges; long supply chains that hamper on-time deliveries, remote locations, the variable nature of wind >> Read more

  • Power Update - May 2011
    FEATURE: ABB Automation & Power World 2011; your continuing education resource Electric Vehicles: Are they real this time? What is the real impact of energy efficiency on the bottom line? What is the truth behind data center marketing trends? >> Read more

  • Power Update - April 2011
    FEATURE: Connecting large-scale renewable energy resources to the grid just got easier. ABB held an official groundbreaking ceremony for its new high voltage and extra high-voltage transmission land cable facility in Huntersville, North Carolina >> Read more

  • Power Update - March 2011
    FEATURE: Free educational webinars offer a sneak peek at informative sessions at ABB's Automation & Power World What can IEC61850 do for you? Worried about cyber security? Concerned about keeping your workers safe? Thinking about applying GOOSE >> Read more

  • Power Update - February 2011
    FEATURE: ABB, Ventyx demonstrate Smart Grid Convergence at DistribuTECH The shift in smart grid conversations within the power industry has shifted from pure AMI toward distribution grid management and has led to an increase in mergers and partnerships >> Read more

  • Power Update - January 2011 
    FEATURE: ABB enters Electric Vehicle Infrastructure market in U.S. with ECOtality stake ABB invests $10 million and signs accord to supply technology for charging stations. The U.S. Smart Grid continues to move closer to sustainable electric vehicle >> Read more

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