Despite growing concern about cybersecurity both in and outside of Washington, the Senate’s cybersecurity bill died a second time on Nov. 13. The apparent inability of Congress to pass legislation designed to protect critical U.S. infrastructure could lead to President Barack Obama implementing some of the bill’s provisions via executive order. A day after the bill failed to gain 60 votes for passage, a recently declassified report was released that finds the U.S. power grid is vulnerable to attacks that could be more destructive than natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.
Switzerland-based ABB today announced that it has developed the world’s first circuit breaker for high voltage direct current (HVDC), solving what it says has been “a 100-year-old electrical engineering puzzle and paving the way for a more efficient and reliable electricity supply system.” The breakthrough holds promise not just for renewables development but also for all types of generation that nations and regions wish to transmit over long distances, including under large bodies of water.
Cyber attacks on the utility industry are no longer theoretical. According to multiple sources, smart grid technology vendor Telvent told U.S., Canadian, and Spanish customers on Sept. 10 that hackers had broken through its firewall and accessed “project files” related to its OASyS SCADA system. On Wednesday, reports surfaced that, based on the perpetrators’ “digital fingerprints,” the attack appears to be the work of a well-known Chinese hacker group.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) last week approved a deal involving the state’s major utilities and renewable energy advocates that is aimed at streamlining the process for connecting distributed generation (DG) resources to the grid. The CPUC’s action will make it easier for small amounts of distributed resources—such as rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems—to connect to the grid. The agreement also revises upward the amount of DG that can be connected to a specific power line segment without the need for supplemental studies.
In testimony before a congressional subcommittee, Joseph McClelland, director of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Office of Electric Reliability, enumerated the ways in which the U.S. regulatory system is ill-equipped to deal with time-sensitive threats to physical and cyber assets of its power system.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) last week said it had reached its $250 million goal to finance smart grid technologies. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also announced nine rural electric cooperatives and utilities in 10 states would receive loan guarantees to make improvements to generation and transmission facilities and implement smart grid technologies.
“If you build it, they will come” has proven a risky strategy for some smart grid projects. One of California’s largest investor-owned utilities faced the opposite challenge—customers whose behaviors necessitated a smarter grid. Customer involvement in and support for smart grid plans is a major reason SDG&E’s smart grid efforts continue to garner accolades, including the 2012 POWER Smart Grid Award.
Siemens Infrastructure & Cities and Munich city utility Stadtwerke München (SWM) this April put into operation a virtual power plant (VPP), linking several small-scale distributed energy sources and pooling their resources so they can be operated as a single installation (Figure 1). The project comes on the heels of a February 2012 expansion of a […]
The year 2012 represents a turning point for the smart grid. Many foundational elements have been tested; several have been successfully deployed. Now the serious work of integration and value-generation begins, even though the challenges remain substantial.
Several new models of plug-in electric vehicles will enter the market in 2012, joining the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt. The Edison Electric Institute has prepared four suggestions to help utilities smoothly handle the introduction of these vehicles to roads and grids.