CVPS begins synchronous condenser project, demand-control effort

CVPS begins synchronous condenser project, demand-control effort
WINHALL -- Construction has begun on a new Winhall substation and voltage support equipment known as synchronous condensers to improve electric system reliability in southern Vermont, while a new program is being kicked off to help reduce energy demand by paying large customers to reduce their load.
"Thanks to public and regulatory input, we are being very creative in how we address growing demand and reliability issues on the transmission system in southern Vermont and the region," CVPS President Bob Young said.
CVPS and Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) are working to improve reliability in southern Vermont and the greater New England region, which face growing demand. Through an extensive public outreach process, the companies agreed to a series of solutions, including non-transmission solutions, to address transmission constraints.
Other elements include: targeted efficiency programs; encouraging development of combined heat and power projects; a new VELCO transmission line from Vernon to Cavendish for regional reliability, known as the Coolidge Connector; and a new VELCO substation in Newfane to provide support for customers in Bennington and Windham counties. The transmission line and Newfane substation continue to undergo regulatory review.
The two synchronous condensers and Winhall substation are expected to cost $11.2 million. Crews are working on site preparation, and will start construction of the substation and building early this summer. The building that will house the synchronous condensers off Kendall Farm Road is designed to look like a horse barn. "This should fit nicely with the rural area," CVPS spokesman Steve Costello said. "That's been a key goal."
Synchronous condensers are devices that control voltage on a transmission or distribution system. A synchronous condenser has internal parts that spin like a motor or generator to support voltage, and outwardly resembles these devices. But synchronous condensers do not actually produce power.
CVPS has signed a contract with ConsumerPowerline, a leading strategic energy asset management firm, to target demand in the area around the Coolidge Connector project, which includes most of Vermont except for the Southern Loop and extreme northeastern Vermont. ConsumerPowerline will work through May 2011 to bridge reliability concerns until the Coolidge Connector line can be approved, built and operated.
ConsumerPowerline will create the Vermont Reliability Program to address the increasing demand for power. VRP will provide contracted commercial and industrial customers with monthly incentive payments to commit to reduce energy consumption to a pre-determined amount during a capacity shortage. This will reduce stress on the grid during high-load periods, enhance transmission system reliability, and help ensure a consistent supply.
VELCO President and CEO John Donleavy lauded CVPS's "forward-thinking approach that will provide our companies with additional tools to ensure system reliability."
VRP is an add-on to the ISO-New England Real Time Demand Response program, one of the most successful in the nation. ISO-New England is the independent system grid operator. Through the VRP, ISO-NE and VELCO will be able to call contracted CVPS customers, with 30 minutes notice, to curtail load in emergency conditions.
"Central Vermont Public Service is at the forefront of deploying demand response to relieve stress on its electrical grid and ensure a more reliable supply of electricity to its customers," said Gary Fromer, chief executive officer of ConsumerPowerline. "We are very pleased to work hand-in-hand with CVPS to deliver value to its customers in the targeted region."
ConsumerPowerline will work with medium-sized to large customers near the Coolidge Connector portion of the CVPS service territory to evaluate electricity consumption and provide load-reduction recommendations and plans that will not impact a customer's core operations. ConsumerPowerline manages the full process on behalf of customers, including enrollment, participation, reporting and payments. Customers receive payments for their participation, and do not incur any out-of-pocket expenses.