More Microgrids for South Australia Now?…Water Companies Good Fit for Microgrids…Efficiency Rivalry Ends in Tie

Sept. 30, 2016
South Australia is still restoring power after a massive blackout…Water companies described as a natural fit for microgrids…New turn in the energy efficiency rivalry between California and Massachusetts

Credit: ElectraNet

More microgrids for South Australia now?

Efforts were still underway today to fully restore power in South Australia after severe lightning left the entire state in the dark.

With 1.7 million people, the fourth largest Australian state lost power on Wednesday with the failure of several 275 kilovolt (kV) power lines, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)

The storm damaged three out of the four transmission lines moving power between Adelaide and the north of South Australia, along with 22 towers at five different points across the network, according to transmission operator ElectraNet.

The malfunction is being described as a ‘cascading failure,’ a domino-like series of disruptions that is often cited as a vulnerability of centralized grids.

Microgrids are an anecdote to the problem because they ‘island’ or separate away from the grid when they sense disruptions coming. The microgrid’s on-site generators then supply power for customers within its footprint. For example, by islanding during Superstorm Sandy, Princeton University’s microgrid was able to keep supplying power to the campus while neighbors were in the dark.

The US experienced a major cascading failure in 2003, which started when a tree and a power line came into contact in northern Ohio. The failure left 50 million people without power, including those in New York City, costing the economy $7 to $10 billion.

Australia already is an active market for microgrids and distributed energy. Look for that to heighten now.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#South Australia still working on restoration after major #poweroutage” quote=”South Australia still working on restoration after major power outage”]

Water and Microgrids: A natural pairing?

Where will microgrids be built next? Look to the many water companies operating in the U.S., said Andres Carvallo, founder and CEO of CMG and co-author of the book, “The Advanced Smart Grid.”

Carvallo spoke on a panel at this week’s Smart Cities Week conference, which drew 1,100 people to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

“I can tell you one interesting phenomenon that is happening more and more. There are a lot of companies that are coming to us that are water companies. There are 50,000 of them in the U.S.,” he said.

Energy is a top annual expense for a water company, he said. So they are pursuing microgrids, batteries, solar and other energy innovations.

They are increasingly intrigued because they know innovations are getting “faster, cheaper and better” each year, he said.

Water companies are well-suited for microgrids because they often own large swaths of unused land where the microgrids can be installed, he said.

Carvallo participated in a panel on microgrids and distributed energy that was moderated by David Chiesa, S&C Electric’s senior director of global business development. The panel also featured Heather Rosentrater, Avista vice president of energy delivery, who spoke about a new microgrid project underway in Spokane.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Water companies and #microgrids: A natural pairing? @andresecarvallo” quote=”Water companies and #microgrids: A natural pairing?”]

Uh oh. California Catches Massachusetts on Energy Efficiency

California caught Massachusetts this year in what’s become a great rivalry between the two states over which is most energy efficient.

After holding the top spot by itself for five years, Massachusetts now must share it with California, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The organization placed the two states in a dead heat for number 1 in its 2016 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard released this week.

Last year only a half point separated the states.

California’s rise to the top is a sign that other states are rapidly ramping up their investments in low-cost energy efficiency and helping consumers lower their energy bills and spur economic growth, according to the Acadia Center.

“Progress in investing in energy efficiency raises all boats—consumers in Massachusetts, California and all the leading states are the real winners here,” said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center’s president.

[clickToTweet tweet=”California catches Massachusetts on #energyefficiency. @@AcadiaCtr ” quote=”California catches Massachusetts on energy efficiency.”]

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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