Archive for September, 2011

How Does Smartening The Grid Change Grid Work?

September 25, 2011

For one person’s take on this ‘work flow revolution’, see:  A Day In The Life…

Telling Comment:

September 22, 2011

Governor Pat Quinn vetoed the Commonweath Edison’s Smart Meter Bill, as you can see in this Chicago Trib article — Gov. Quinn’s Veto

This comment was posted at Smart Grid News’ coverage of the event on 14 Sep by a Mr. R. Perry:  “Meters are important because they measure total usage, which is important for billing.  It would be great if a smart meter could provide the customer with ancillary services, such as Energy Efficiency (EE) and Demand Response (DR), which would indeed justify their cost.

“But they don’t and can’t.  Smart meters report total usage, but Energy Efficiency and Demand Response don’t care about total usage.  EE and DR care about current usage.

“And you can’t determine current usage without real-time telemetry, which means broadband.  The only way to effectively do EE and DR is to use devices that measure current usage for individual loads (e.g., with smart two-way thermostats) report it to servers, which then control these loads in real time.

“Further, EE and DR do not care about whole home usage.  They care about individual loads that can be individually controlled — which cannot be done using a smart meter.

“Smart meters and their corresponding AMI  networks, simply cannot deliver on the promise, no matter how much PR and marketing is done.

“Smart meters are already obsolete.  Welcome to the world of the Internet.

Governor Quinn as well as Mr. Perry are concerned about utilities directly charging rate payers for utility cost-savers instead of customer benefits.

The Power Grid Network delivers a comprehensive solution that includes both utility and customer benefits, without overwhelming either constituency with their capital costs.




Reliability Of The Grid — View from San Diego

September 19, 2011

“…The overloaded grid promptly crashed, causing blackouts to spread across the region and into Mexico. The lights did not come back on until the following morning.

The wind was blowing at only 8mph and the sky was partially overcast. So, California’s lauded sources of renewable energy were of little help.

If anything, they were part of the problem. Critics point out, with some justification, that California’s energy strategy of focusing on conservation and expanding intermittent sources of renewable energy—while ignoring the urgent need for more base-load generating capacity close to big cities—was the primary cause of the grid failure.

The wider issue is that the original voltage spike which triggered the monster outage should have been isolated at the Yuma substation in Arizona. …”  Reliability of the Grid

Brattle Group: Energy Efficiency in 2020

September 15, 2011

Energy Efficiency — 2020 – “Efficiency pessimists contend that energy efficiency (inclusive of demand response) is unlikely to make much of a dent on energy consumption and peak demand in the year 2020 since all the low-hanging fruit has been harvested. Ergo, the solution to meeting the nation’s future energy needs in a carbon-constrained future is to build more power plants (preferably those that don’t burn coal), transmission lines and distribution systems.

Efficiency optimists, on the other hand, contend that energy efficiency is essentially an inexhaustible well and we have a long ways to go before the bottom is reached. Their viewpoint suggests that enhancements in energy efficiency may eliminate the need to make investments in the power supply system, except for routine maintenance and upgrades.

And finally, efficiency realists contend that the truth is somewhere in between.

Another Cyber Attack

September 14, 2011

Security firm McAfee has revealed details of a large scale cyber attack that has been launched against global energy companies, specifically in the oil and gas industries.

Starting in November 2009, the attacks targeted proprietary operations and project-financing information on oil and gas field bids and operations. McAfee said the highly sensitive nature of these bids can make or break multi-billion dollar bids.

McAfee has dubbed the attacks “Night Dragon” and claims they are likely to have originated in China. McAfee CTO George Kurtz says that “The tools, techniques, and network activities used in these attacks originate primarily in China. These tools are widely available on the Chinese Web forums and tend to be used extensively by Chinese hacker groups.”

Hackers used a combination of vectors to access the systems, including social engineering, spear-phishing, Windows exploits, Active Directory compromises, and the use of remote administration tools (RATs).  “The tools simply appear to be standard host administration techniques that utilise administrative credentials. This is largely why they are able to evade detection by standard security software and network policies.”

A White Paper released by McAfee goes in to more details about the hacks. The attacks began with a SQL-injection technique, which compromised external web servers. Common hacking tools were then used to access intranets, giving attackers access to internal servers and desktops. Usernames and passwords were then harvested and after disabling Internet Explorer proxy settings, hackers were able to establish direct communication from infected machines to the Internet.

Kurtz went on to explain that attacks similar to this are increasing in number. “Well-coordinated, targeted attacks such as Night Dragon, orchestrated by a growing group of malicious attackers committed to their targets, are rapidly on the rise,” he wrote.   “More and more, these attacks focus not on using and abusing machines within the organisations being compromised, but rather on the theft of specific data and intellectual property,” he added. “Focused and efficient define the very essence of today’s attackers — a clear example of how cybercrime has evolved to a very professional activity.”