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Fortnightly Magazine - December 2013

Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action, Enphase Energy partnered with Beacon Power Services to provide a solar microgrid in Abuja, Nigeria. The project will seek to prove the scalability of a solar microgrid system in a country with unreliable and high-polluting energy supplies. The microgrid system will use Enphase microinverter technology, allowing local non-specialist electricians and laborers to install and maintain all aspects of the system. Beacon will manage the local training and installation, as well as provide ongoing support for the project.   


The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) directed Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) to keep out of service its natural gas pipeline #147, which runs through the City of San Carlos, pending safety review by CPUC staff. The CPUC’s safety and enforcement division has initiated a staff investigation to determine whether the pipeline poses any immediate safety concerns. The investigation will result in public findings, required corrective action if necessary, and citations for any violation of law or regulation. 

The PJM Interconnection board of managers authorized $1.2 billion in upgrades and improvements to the high-voltage electric transmission system that serves the Mid-Atlantic region and all or parts of other states between the Mid-Atlantic and Chicago, Ill. The announced changes call for upgrades and improvements to transformers, substations and other transmission facilities throughout the region served by PJM. With these changes, the PJM regional transmission plan includes more than $24.2 billion of transmission additions and upgrades since the first plan was approved by the board in 2000.

The Calfornia ISO Board of Governors approved the ISO’s design framework for an energy imbalance market (EIM). The EIM will allow Western balancing authorities to voluntarily participate in California ISO’s real-time energy market – but not its day-ahead market. The ISO’s first EIM participant, PacifiCorp, has been working with the ISO to prepare for market implementation on Oct. 1, 2014.

Smart Grid

Siemens and Accenture formed Omnetric Group , a joint venture to provide smart grid system integration and data management services, aimed at helping utilities improve efficiency and achieve greater supply security. Headquartered in Munich, Germany, the company’s business operations will focus initially on Europe and the U.S., with further global expansion planned in the future. It’s expected to employ approximately 100 people in its first year. Financial details weren’t disclosed. 

Separately Accenture released the results of its “Digitally Enabled Grid” survey of 54 utilities in 13 countries. Among other findings, the survey showed that 98 percent of respondents ranked asset management analytics among the two most important investments to create value from smart grid systems. 

Echelon and its partner Kapsch Smart Energy won several key pilot projects with leading Austrian utilities Wien Energie, IKB, and Steiermark. The pilots were prompted by a new edict in Austria that requires utilities to achieve specific grid modernization goals by 2019. The Echelon NES platform will operate together with the Kapsch meter data management software. The pilots are scheduled to take place through 2014, and utilities are expected to begin rolling out smart meters throughout Austria in high volume beginning in 2015.

CenterPoint Energy’s natural gas