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Wanted: Electric Grid Resilience

Jessica Lyons Hardcastle

When it comes to the electric grid, resilience is not reliability, Forbes reports.

In his article for the magazine, William Pentland, a senior director of market development at ClearEdge Power, a micro-CHP fuel cell manufacturer based outside of Portland, Ore., writes that reliability refers to the grid’s ability to provide electricity during so-called “blue-sky,” or normal operations. Resilience, on the other hand, measures how well the grid can handle hurricanes, high winds, snow storms and the like.

Using this measure, Pentland says the electric grid is “spectacularly un-resilient” in much of the US.

The article details enterprise energy management solutions on the market intended to promote reliability.

Lockheed Martin’s Enterprise Energy Management called SEEView prevents disruptions to the grid, but provides more protection rather than resilience.

Enterprise energy software start up Blue Pillar, on the other hand, with its software platform called the Digital Energy Network gives customers — not grid operators — command and control capabilities. This, Pentland says, allows companies to manage the full spectrum of distributed generation assets.

Some reasons why a Fortune 1000 company might benefit from this approach, according to Pike Research, include:

  • Improve performance of critical distributed energy resources (DER) assets that support business operational uptime
  • Combat high and uncontrolled energy costs
  • Move away from manual management of 
DER assets with limited or no automation
  • Boost reliability of service from local distribution utilities
  • Minimize expansive cyber security attack surface

Forbes reports Blue Pillar has deployed its network platform on 50 sites encompassing more than 1,050 endpoints, representing more than 150 MW of capacity in major demand response markets.

The article says energy services company PowerSecure is also vying with Blue Pillar in the networked energy space. In November 2012, PowerSecure announced that its end-to-end standby power solution offers a higher degree of reliability than many standby systems that serve the nuclear power industry.

Steve Fairfax, president with the consulting firm MTechnology, evaluated data from more than 1,000 sites where the PowerSecure solution was used in both load management and standby power settings over a five-year period from 2007 through 2012. He found that during 5,234 power outage events (excluding outages due to human error or equipment repair situations), which occurred during this period, the PowerSecure solution delivered a 96.1 percent success rate.

 

 



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