Duke Energy case study: Fire stations, microgrids and meters

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The meter, known for its predominant usage and dependability over decades, must take a bow. The Schneider Electric meter stars in a production that’s gaining applause wherever it’s incorporated: the microgrid. Duke Energy®, serving 25 million people and businesses (2016), knows first-hand the customer success story of microgrids and Schneider Electric power meters and software.

Microgrids are so hot they’re almost trendy. What helps make this new celebrity of the electric industry work? Intelligent power and energy meters, interconnected with the microgrid control network, play a key role in microgrid functionality.

Schneider Electric PowerLogic ION8650 series meters provide the monitoring data that’s a must for operating microgrids.

Just how does Duke Energy know for certain the resiliency and backup security of these meters? And why is Fire Station 34 in Charlotte, NC, grateful?

When the South’s Queen City, as Charlotte is known, endures the grid-threatening temperature of 98 degrees, Fire Station 34 in the McAlpine Creek area stands always ready to respond. That’s because of the microgrid partnership between Duke Energy and the city of Charlotte, relying on Schneider Electric products, chose this fire station for a test microgrid.

“We rely on an uninterrupted power supply to carry out our mission,” said Damian Owens, Charlotte Fire Department Battalion Chief. “We must have power to open and close the bay doors, operate our station alerting system, heat and cool the station, and run fuel pumps for refueling the trucks.” (from Duke Energy Illumination, October 2016)

In Charlotte, the Duke Energy McAlpine Creek Substation has served as a testing ground for smart grid technology and renewable generation. A 50 kW solar installation and a 200 kW/500 Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) are connected in parallel to import and export energy to the circuit at the substation.

PowerLogic ION8650 meters, interconnected with the microgrid control network, provide critical data needed for operation and testing of the microgrid. With these meters, Duke Energy could monitor and assess any power quality events. The information gathered provided important feedback when the microgrid islanded and re-synched to the grid.  In addition, the PowerLogic PM800 series meter was installed to meter the auxiliary power to the microgrid and provided an understanding of the impact of this significant load on the microgrid. Both the ION8650 socket and PM800 panel-mounted meters from Schneider Electric were integral to the testing and success of the microgrid.

The ION8650 Series Meters Provided:

  • Waveform capture
  • Harmonic indices
  • Disturbance direction detection
  • Sequence of event reporting
  • Load profile data
  • High accuracy revenue metering

Duke Energy could test grid support services while demonstrating enhanced resiliency and grid stability advantages. The meters’ real-time data in conjunction with Schneider Electric’s PowerLogic ION Setup Software provided visualization and reporting of captured waveform disturbances that they could then track and analyze. They now could better understand switching transitions and determine causes of unattended islanding events.

With the ability to operate a successful microgrid in place, Duke Energy can implement them to increase resiliency, improve the operation of the smart grid, and potentially provide a new offer to customers. Microgrids keep processes and buildings running, while isolated from a damaged grid. They can achieve cost savings by reducing peak power demand and electric generation.

Some of the nation’s most noted microgrid projects can be found at colleges and universities such as Princeton, Harvard, and Wesleyan University, which were early adopters of the technology. Also turning to microgrids are the military, commercial and industry, and communities.

They are learning first-hand the benefits of microgrids:

  • Resiliency in the face of severe weather and cyberattacks
  • Flexibility to accommodate and economically benefit from a higher penetration of renewable generation and distributed energy resources
  • Security of critical infrastructure

Or, in the case of Fire Station No. 34 in Charlotte, being able and ready to answer the 911 calls during an ice storm or the summer heat.

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