Building off of its first 40 years of advancing innovation in public power, DEED heads into 2021 with more than 50 active projects in critical areas like drone technology, sustainability (including several net-zero pilots), battery storage, EVs (one using blockchain incentives to coordinate charging), AMI, data analytics, problem-solving and more.
Many of the projects below link to the DEED Project Database, where DEED members can learn about hundreds of historical and current projects. Membership is required to access the database. Not a DEED member? Contact the DEED program at [email protected].
DEED Scholarships Nurture New Generations of Public Power Workers
DEED began awarding scholarships to students across the nation in 1984, helping hundreds of students fund their education and pursue energy careers since its founding. Since then, DEED also added student research and internship funding, expanding avenues to inspire the future workforce and connecting them with public power utilities.
Generations of Advancing Public Power Job Safety
For years, DEED has focused energy and resources on ensuring that public power workers make it home safely each night. The DEED board has approved several projects advancing workplace safety, including the 1999 Spanish translation of the Safety Manual, 2001 Safety Manual Support Software Application, and 2019 SafetySmart Video Series. DEED’s legacy of workplace safety innovation continues in 2020 with the launch of the eSafety Tracker.
Through a DEED grant, New York Power Authority (NYPA) partnered with Electric Power Research Institute to use a public domain software, StorageVET, to simulate a year of storage system operations using multiple system designs and sites in order to measure impact on customer energy and demand charges and rank sites that would support the greatest customer energy savings.
Through a 2009 DEED-funded project, ElectriCities of North Carolina shared a Toyota Prius, retrofitted into a plug-in electric hybrid vehicle (PHEV), with public power communities so they could drive it, collect operational data, and learn first-hand about PHEV benefits.
Through a DEED grant, Missouri River Energy Services is studying opportunities for indoor food production (IFP) using a shipping container-based “farm-in-a-box.” Graduate students will operate the container at the College of Agriculture Food & Environmental Sciences. The harvest will be donated to a children’s museum, which plans to host an educational exhibit to provide information on container-based IFP units and their potential as a source of new industrial and commercial customer growth.
Algona Municipal Utilities and Atlantic Municipal Utilities partnered with Iowa State University to create a tool that helps smaller utilities make better use of the flood of data they get from advanced metering infrastructure (AMI).
The project used MATLAB development tools to create a standalone application that enables a user to import AMI data with customer class information, feeder identification, and temperature data. The tool saves the data subsets in Excel for further analysis and plotting.
What started as a simple spreadsheet to help small utilities log outages by date, address, location, and cause has evolved into eReliability Tracker, a Web-based software service that aids hundreds of utilities with tracking, analyzing, and benchmarking distribution system reliability.
The DEED program provided initial support for eReliability Tracker in 2001 and subsequently funded multiple software enhancements, including outage management systems (OMS) connectivity and smart meter analysis capabilities.
Safe work habits are vital, especially in the public power utility industry. Because educating workers about safety is challenging for many small, resource-constrained utilities, DEED developed and released the SafetySmart Video Series in 2003.
The series consists of eight training videos that reinforce information from the APPA Safety Manual and OSHA standards. The videos were shot at APPA member utilities and feature utility personnel and equipment. Topics covered include power generation plant safety, URD and excavation site safety, electric metering safety, confined space safety, pole climbing and bucket truck safety and rescue, and lockout/tagout procedures for electric plants and substations. The accompanying SafetySmart Instructor's Manual provides additional classroom content. This DEED project was sponsored and coordinated by staff at Peru Utilities, in Indiana.
PowerWorld Simulator is a graphics-based program that models power system operations. It can be used to show power flows on the transmission system or model an individual utility's distribution system. This innovative tool took the drudgery and mystery out of power system analysis with high-level graphics, animated flows, and color contour.
The beginnings of this software can be traced to Professor Thomas Overbye of the University of Illinois, who wanted a tool to help students better understand large-scale power systems. In 1995 DEED joined with Power Systems Engineering Research Center (PSERC), a consortium of universities, industry, and government conducting electric industry research, to support the development of the software. After the initial project, continued development was supported by several more DEED grants and scholarships. DEED sponsors included Danville Department of Utilities, Virginia; WPPI Energy, Wisconsin; Richmond Power & Light, Indiana; and City Water Light & Power, Springfield, Illinois. The software was so successful that PowerWorld Corporation (founded in 1996) provided discounted upgrades and complimentary programs to DEED members for nearly a decade after its initial launch.
PowerWorld Simulator's ability to show power flow analysis in a highly visual, easy-to-use, and cost-effective platform was ground-breaking back in the 90s and extremely valuable to the electric industry. Today, PowerWorld's products are used by over 700 customers in 68 countries. They offer a variety of tools for transmission planners, power marketers, system operations and trainers, educators, and anyone else who needs power system information and analysis in a user-friendly format.
This project focused on the development and demonstration of an inexpensive non-toxic, biodegradable/environmentally friendly dielectric fluid for use in transformers, oil-filled transmission lines, and oil-filled switches. The concept for a soybean-based transformer oil for Waverly Light and Power (WPL) began in 1994 after WPL had to clean up a costly PCB contaminated transformer oil spill. Glenn Cannon, WLP's (now retired) General Manager, was inspired to work on a non-toxic transformer oil and teamed up with the University of Northern Iowa's Ag-Based Industrial Lubricants (ABIL) Research Program, located in Waverly, which was doing research on industrial uses for soybean oil. Initial pilot testing of the oil began at WPL in 1997.
In 1999, the oil was patented and trademarked as Bio Trans and a DEED grant provided the means for more extensive research. Results showed that Bio Trans could be an environmentally friendly alternative to standard transformer oil and findings from the commercialization analysis were extremely favorable. The fluid was non-toxic, non-flammable, readily biodegradable, and passed testing as an environmental preferred oil by the National Institute of Standards and Technology U.S. Department of Commerce. In 2002 Cargill, Inc. purchased the patents and trademark rights and began manufacturing BioTransTM. In 2004 Cargill joined forces with Cooper Power Systems (CPS), which had developed its own vegetable based transformer oil, to cost efficiently produce and distribute Envirotemp FR3 fluid worldwide.
In order to provide the community with a reliable, high-speed Internet connection, the City of Manassas, in Virginia, used its existing electric infrastructure to cost-effectively "bridge the 'Last Mile' gap." This pilot project successfully delivered broadband service to residential and commercial customers by utilizing the City's medium- and low-voltage distribution grid to create a high-speed Internet connection. Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) is the delivery of data communications using the existing power distribution network as a conduit and has been easily integrated into the existing fiber optic network. BPL enhances the functionality of the electric distribution grid by making it a data transportation channel. BPL can deliver broadband Internet service to virtually every outlet in a home.
The pilot program began in August 2001 with a Main.net-PLC presentation to the City of Manassas and APPA. After recruiting interested pilot participants in April 2002, sites were selected based on the availability to the medium and low voltage distribution grid and its existing fiber optic network for IP transport. Residential pilot customers were connected by May 2002. The first commercial site was connected in March 2003. The performance of BPL during the pilot study proved to be reliable, quick and effective and pilot participants were pleased. In August 2003, franchise bid invitations were released for full City deployment of BPL.
With the help of Siemens Industry, Inc. and a $50,000 DEED grant, Fayetteville Public Works Commission in North Carolina made its distribution system operate at peak efficiency by remotely controlling voltage throughout its distribution system using off-the-shelf hardware and software products. These products perform real-time volt VAR control by controlling the capacitor banks and transformer tap changers in addition to visualization and control from a central location. The system can be especially useful during peak events to decrease a utility's distribution line voltage and lower the utility's peak demand without negatively affecting the consumer.
The system worked as predicted. There was a notable average kW demand reduction of 0.8 percent for every 1 percent reduction in voltage. By using a real-time approach, FPWC implemented CVR systems with improved performance and simplicity using off-the-shelf protection class controllers. FPWC has now implemented voltage reduction on a system-wide basis by manually lowering the voltage at each of its distribution substations.
One of DEED's newest hits - the DSM Benchmarker - is a tool that helps utilities evaluate and benchmark their demand side management and energy efficiency programs and respond to the U.S. Department of Energy's EIA form 861-Schedule 6. The DSM Benchmarker and associated resources were developed in partnership with members of the Large Public Power Council and the Alliance to Save Energy. Members can use the tool to make apples-to-apples comparisons and generate customizable charts on energy savings, potential demand reduction, spending relative to utility size and more. Competing tools use voluntary, unaudited state reporting, but the DSM Benchmarker uses data collected and vetted by the U.S. Department of Energy on EIA form 861-Schedule 6-the mandatory annual reporting vehicle to capture national utility energy efficiency data.
The 2012, $75,000 DEED grant to Santee Cooper resulted in the development of an interactive tool and training materials to enhance public power's ability to benchmark energy-efficiency performance. The tool developed leverages EIA data to generate customizable peer comparison charts for a range of energy-efficiency indicators. The EIA-861 Schedule 6 Reporting Guide shows utility staff how to most efficiently generate reliable, comparable data for EIA form 861-Schedule 6. The helpful tips, examples, and recommendations included come from other utility peers.
For more than 25 years, DSTAR, a consortium of electric distribution utilities and utility organizations in North America, has collaboratively sponsored near-term, pragmatic distribution research and development (R&D). Research activities encompass just about every facet of distribution engineering, including equipment applications, system protection, reliability, power quality, and operational efficiency. Projects have included equipment testing and product evaluation, development of niche software for standards and engineering support, and white papers and reports on pressing industry issues. DEED joined DSTAR in 2010 to provide all American Public Power Association members access to DSTAR's valuable research and tools. Project details are found at the DSTAR tab at PublicPower.org/DEED.
DSTAR's initial work focused on equipment testing and produced groundbreaking work like DSTAR's ferroresonance guidelines for padmounts and fault energy guidelines for transformer enclosures, which are still used today. One of DSTAR's stellar creations was the Data a-Handbook, a dynamic electronic document containing reference information and calculations (from distribution handbooks, manufacturer information, standards documents, etc.) that are most commonly needed by distribution engineering staff. Recently DSTAR has turned five of those calculations into apps so they may be easily used by staff in the field. Visit http://apps.dstar.org to try them out.
Alexander Anderson's research grant with Tacoma Power in Washington resulted in the creation of a 400-watt, lighter-than-air augmented wind turbine. The goal was to provide Americans in low-wind areas with a cost-effective renewable energy source. His patent-pending design - A-PEGASUS - can be assembled in a garage over the weekend. In this photo, two blimps pull a 20-foot wind turbine that turns wind into energy.
Concern is increasing about geomagnetic disturbances (GMO), such as solar flares and storms, interacting with the electric grid. City Water, Light and Power in Springfield, Illinois, sponsored a DEED scholarship to analyze its systems' vulnerability to a GMO event.
Trevor Hutchins, a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, tested CWLP's resilience to GMO by simulating a 1 V/km storm of geomagnetically induced currents flowing onto the utility's transmission lines and high-voltage transformers. This simulation was conducted using PowerWorld Simulator, version 17, software. The PowerWorld software was developed at the University of Illinois in the early 1990s with support from DEED.
The U.S. Department of Energy has identified wireless sensor networks as a technology ripe for energy-efficiency improvements. Riverside Public Utilities sponsored Ehsan Tarkesh Esfahani, a student at University of California-Riverside, for a DEED scholarship to develop and test an inexpensive multisensory wireless monitoring system for induction motors. During tests the sensors accurately detected faults 99.9 percent of the time without interrupting motor functions. A continuing monitoring system can track faults as they develop and help identify their root cause and prevent future failure.