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This week the staff at Newton-Evans Research is in the midst of conducting pre-testing of our 2016 survey design with our panel of leading utility contributors. After reviewing the results and feedback from our panel, we will finalize the North American version of the survey and begin requesting participation from utilities, ISO/RTO organizations, industrial firms and rail transport organizations. The pre-testing process will then be undertaken with our international utility panel.

This periodic study was last undertaken in 2012, with guidance provided in the four volume set of reports for the P&C community through 2014. The report series has been relied upon by relay manufacturers, substation automation developers and control systems integrators around the world for more than three decades. The reports are referenced by standards organizations and the operational consulting community looks to the series for guidance on protection and control status, learning where the “real world” of utilities is today and understanding the technical drivers and operational trends that will impact utility and supplier planning over the next few years.

We are hoping to receive participation from more than 100 key electric utilities in this year’s study. Typically we do obtain cooperation from 100 or more utilities. It is more difficult to obtain high levels of cooperation today, with concerns about security and competitive activities. We are trying not to be intrusive in our questioning, so would-be participants can safely and securely provide information without having to be concerned with cyber security policy issues.

The richly illustrated Executive Summary from this new study will be about 40 pages in length and will enable participants to “benchmark” the findings relative to their own P&C activities and plans and compare with other utilities within their size range and utility type.

For interested parties, keep in mind that the pre-publication price offer for the four volume set of report is $5,500.00 through May, 2016. Once the study is published, the report series price will be $5,950.00.

A brochure with order form for the 2016-2018 series is available here.

Here are some excerpts from previous Protection and Control studies; some of these topics will be revisited in our 2016 survey.

Overall, do you plan to increase, decrease or maintain current levels of capital investment for relay testing equipment, software and training?
The overwhelming majority of the 2012 sample indicated that they plan to maintain their current CapEx levels for these activities. Sixteen percent said they would increase expenditures, and only one respondent indicated a decrease in CapEx. The 2009 findings had indicated that 70% of the respondents would maintain their 2009 level of investment in relay test equipment. Fifteen percent planned to increase such investment, while only eight percent planned a decrease.

Do you plan to rely more on third party services for relay testing?
PlannedCapexRelayTestingIn 2012, 20% of responding utilities said they plan to rely more in the coming three year period (2012-2014) on third party relay commissioning and testing services. One person mentioned that due to manpower shortages, they do not have enough personnel available to do testing as well as regular line work.

In 2009, only twelve percent had planned to use third party relay testing services. Nearly 25% of the 2006 survey sample indicated that they would be likely to rely more heavily on third party relay testing services. The 2009 cutback in spending for third party services may well have been due to the impact of the recession, and the significant erosion of CAPEX and OPEX spending in that year.

Do you operate a Wide Area Network (WAN) for remote access to relays?
Fifty-three percent of utility respondents overall said they operate a WAN for remote relay access. Surprisingly, 71% of investor owned utilities said they do not operate a WAN for remote access.

How do you operate a Wide Area Network (WAN) for remote access to relays?
Of the 42 utilities in the sample that operate a WAN, 71% operate the WAN via serial port terminal servers or data concentrators, and 62% indicated they operate the WAN through firewalls. Almost all utilities had a multi-pronged approach to operating their WANs.

For more information on the forthcoming update to the worldwide study of the protective relay marketplace, call 1 410 465 7316 or send an email inquiry to info@newton-evans.com

There are a large number of consulting services providers to Operations and Engineering staffs in the electric power industry. In North America, Tier One providers include the Structure Group business unit within Accenture, KEMA DNV GL, QUANTA-Technology, PE (Power Engineers), PSC, SISCO, UISOL and others. Several of these firms have their origins as T&D engineering consultants, somewhat akin to the expertise found at the very large firms such as Black & Veatch, Burns & McDonnell, Bechtel and others.

Since the turn of the century and the development of grid modernization studies extending to OT/IT integration, and to enterprise-wide consulting services, a number of additional consulting specialists such as Enernex, Nexant, Bridge Energy, Navigant are highly visible and competing with the more “traditional” OT consulting community.

Additional firms are also active in related segments of grid modernization activities including telecommunications specialist firms (UTCG, PWI, Boreas, Telcordia (part of Ericsson), PSI, and carriers); Cyber consulting specialists (Tripwire, Industrial Defender (now owned by Lockheed Martin), Waterfall Security Solutions, IPKeys, Network & Security Technologies, N-Dimension and Securicon) and market management specialists (OATI, PA, Scott-Madden).

The survey conducted during the fourth quarter of 2015 was concerned in part with the perceived changes taking place among the consulting community that serves operational technology needs of electric utilities.

Some of the summary highlights of one study include these observations
Three of five key integrators of control systems look upon OT specialist consultants as “fair and impartial” while two suggested that consultants have their favorites among the systems provider community.

Integrator officials also provided their thoughts on the future role for OT consultants as follows:

  • Niche players will increase due to that the DER penetration will drive new regulation and requirement for ADMS (distribution)
  • Difficult to say with certainty, but I don’t think the consultant roles will change much.
  • I believe consultants will be supporting more and more project implementation for the end customer as the key internal knowledgeable resources are become less available.
  • To be a trusted partner to a utility to help guide them, but not make decisions on their behalf or to further benefit from those decisions. The role of being part of a procurement (RFP/RFI) process and then to provide system integration services for the selected bidder is raising major ethics concerns.
  • I don’t think much will change over the next 4 years.

Guest Article contributed by Paul Leufkens
We read with much interest “T&D Testing Topics” about the role and importance of lab and field testing to the electrical power industry. When Chuck published this recently as part of reviewing 2015 activities he described many different test activities by various organizations with very diverse purposes. From there now we want to look ahead to the testing areas in which we expect significant change and rapid development in 2016.

Utilities need remaining life assessment methods and better targeted maintenance programs based on testing experience. Considering integration of renewables, local testing of an integrated system has to be addressed. Another challenge is how to transform Big Data provided by new Smart Grid applications to good use and better Asset Management.

Manufacturer’s intentions with testing
First, let’s clarify that the “testing” examined in this context is budgeted testing on equipment for Transmission and Distribution (T&D) grids, rather than the routine tests that are part of a regular manufacturing process. There are many reasons to undertake and invest into these programs: safety, reliability, liability, performance, compliance to standards and regulations, life expectancy of assets, functionality and more.

Traditionally manufacturers of switchgear, transformers, cables etc. need certification. Type-test certificates show compliance with IEEE ANSI or other internationally recognized standards. This is desirable for market introductions and subsequently may be required for larger international tendered projects. Certificates can cover risk and liability, although that’s considered more outside than inside the US.

Vendors can have many intentions with testing. First there is the verification of new designs and functioning of prototypes at the end stage of product development. When there is a significant change in standards, type tests must be renewed, as was the case recently when requirements for Internal Arc resistance became stricter. Safety testing is fundamental and, together with its traditional UL listing, has become essential for commerce: the demand chain ceases to function without it.

Modern development of newer technologies faces banks or other investors who want independent evaluation and proof of reliable and expected performance for instance of solar PV modules or BESS. It is remarkable that sometimes a manufacturer pushes more severe requirements for a test program than the standard demands, but it happens. We saw that for instance a few years ago with such a seemingly end-of-development product as glass chain insulators: in this instance a manufacturer created a competitive edge by distinguishing itself from the competition. [click to continue…]

The Worldwide Study of the Protective Relay Marketplace in Electric Utilities: 2016-2018, a four volume report series by Newton-Evans Research Company, is scheduled for publication May 6th, 2016.

Newton-Evans’ Worldwide Study of the Protective Relay Marketplace: 2016-2018 is planned to be a multi-client study which encompasses the world market for protective relays in the electric utility industry. This four volume report series will be the seventh worldwide study of protective relays which Newton-Evans has undertaken. Participants in this market study will include utility engineers and managers from investor-owned utilities, municipal and provincial utilities, cooperative utilities within the United States and Canada, together with national power systems throughout the world. The study will measure current market sizes and contains projections on a world region basis for the next several years. The entire research program will define the product and market requirements which suppliers must meet in order to successfully participate in one or more of these diverse world market regions.

Newton-Evans Research Company estimates from our earlier 2012 relay market study indicate that the North American protective relay market stood at almost $600 million for both utility and industrial applications. It will be important for the P&C community to learn how changes in the world market conditions since 2014 will affect the outlook for 2016-2018.

To read more about this upcoming study and get ordering information, see the brochure page.

Participants in various Newton-Evans research studies are often asked if they would like us to make a donation on their behalf (in amounts of $25 or $50 dollars a piece) to one of several pre-selected charitable organizations including UNICEF, the Wounded Warrior Project, the Canadian and the American Red Cross.

In 2015, Newton-Evans Research Company’s contributions – made on behalf of survey participants around the world – add up to $1,725:  Over the past decade, our survey respondents have selected donations to charities with payments by Newton-Evans amounting to more than $35,000.  We are grateful to our survey participants from around the world for donating their honorarium to these and other charitable organizations.  During 2016, Newton-Evans will be conducting three major international studies, so the donations to UNICEF will likely be substantially higher than in 2015.



The Year in Summary (2015)

January 13, 2016

2015 was another busy year for Newton-Evans Research. Some of the studies conducted this past year covered new research topics. While our work was focused on client-commissioned studies, we obtained many insights from operational and engineering perspectives that will assist our research programs in 2016 as we once again conduct our flagship multiclient studies of […]

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Worldwide Study of the Protective Relay Marketplace in Electric Utilities: 2016-2018

December 2, 2015

Newton-Evans is in the planning stages of updating one of its flagship report series on the Worldwide Protective Relay Marketplace, slated for completion in the second quarter of 2016. If you are a supplier of protective relays, relay testing or integration services, or if you are interested in following technology trends, we invite you to […]

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Bumps in the Road to Grid Modernization – Caution Ahead?

October 3, 2015

The T&D Industry and Grid Modernization Efforts in the second half of 2015 – A Middling Performance – So What Lies Ahead for 2016? While a number of energy industry pundits suggest that the T&D markets for infrastructure equipment and control systems always go up, I will revert to what another Newton stated a few […]

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EMMOS Conference Sep. 21-23

August 26, 2015

Just a reminder for those planning to attend the 22nd annual EMMOS (Energy Management and Market Operations Systems) user group conference on September 21-23 at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel in Carmel, Indiana can make hotel reservations at a discounted rate until August 27th. This year’s conference agenda will feature topical speakers and roundtable sessions, technical […]

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