Five U.S. and two international electric companies have been named finalists for the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI’s) 2019 Edison Award. Since 1922, the Edison Award has recognized electric companies for their distinguished leadership, innovation and contribution to the advancement of the electric power industry. The Edison Award is regarded as the industry’s most prestigious honor, according to the EEI.
In February, an independent panel of reviewers met to evaluate the nominations and selected The AES Corporation, Arizona Public Service Company, Edison International/Southern California Edison, Tennessee Valley Authority and Xcel Energy as finalists for this year’s U.S. Edison Award. Jemena Electricity Network and UK Power Networks were named finalists for the International Edison Award.
“EEI’s member companies are making significant progress in reducing carbon emissions and integrating renewables into the energy grid while providing reliable, affordable, secure and increasingly clean energy that their customers need and expect,” says EEI President Tom Kuhn. “This year’s Edison Award finalists are leading the clean energy transformation and delivering innovative energy solutions in a rapidly changing world.”
A panel of former electric company chief executives will select the winners for the 91st annual Edison Award, which will be presented on June 10 at the EEI Annual Convention in Philadelphia.
U.S. Edison Award Finalists
The AES Corporation – In December 2018, AES made history by bringing the world’s largest operational solar-plus-storage system online, creating a new model for stabilizing large-scale renewable energy. Designed for the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, this first-of-its-kind DC (direct current)-coupled solution, dubbed “the PV Peaker Plant,” fully integrates photovoltaic cells and storage at unprecedented scale to transform variable renewable energy generation into safe, reliable and readily dispatchable power. This project will deliver roughly 11 percent of the island’s power, bringing Hawaii one step closer to achieving its goal of being powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.
Arizona Public Service Company – Arizona Public Service Company (APS) invested in a battery system rather than traditional line upgrades to address load growth in a rural area of Northeast Arizona. The non-wires alternative project was the most cost-effective option to increase electric reliability and offer additional capabilities for the remote community of Punkin Center, Ariz. APS’s investment demonstrates the advantages a battery-based system can sometimes provide over traditional wires solutions, while also reframing the discussion around how best to serve new customers in hard-to-reach rural areas.
Edison International/Southern California Edison – Recognizing how data could improve the delivery of safe and reliable electricity, Edison International/Southern California Edison (SCE) transformed its smart meter operations into a digitized Reliability Operations Center (ROC). This enables SCE to scan its service territory of about 700,000 transformers continuously to monitor for everything from downed wires to equipment failures. This has resulted in increased productivity while reducing outage times and safety risks for the public and SCE crews. In 2018 alone, SCE estimates this program avoided nearly 500,000 minutes of customers experiencing power interruption. To date, the algorithm has detected more than 40 cases of electrical faults, 75 percent of which were identified within approximately seven minutes of the incident.
Tennessee Valley Authority – The Tennessee Valley Authority developed a new safety dashboard that allows its workforce to monitor safety statistics, as well as quickly identify and correct negative safety trends in real-time. Developed in-house, the dashboard uses customizable filters to generate data that are used by employees, contractors and external union representatives to help ensure worker safety at all levels.
Xcel Energy – Xcel Energy is leading efforts to routinely fly unmanned aircrafts or drones beyond the operator’s visual line of site. By using drones to assess storm damage and efficiently and cost-effectively inspect transmission lines, Xcel Energy is developing a way to provide better service for its customers. Through its partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration Xcel Energy is working to develop and share lessons learned and best practices that would allow other electric companies to take advantage of this technology.
International Edison Award Finalists
Jemena – In response to increasing demands on its energy infrastructure, Australian-based Jemena Electricity Network partnered with the Victorian Government to establish a voluntary demand response (DR) trial – Power Chargers – to find cost-effective solutions to reduce peak demand. During the summer of 2018, this technology-led, community program empowered residential customers to make informed decisions about their energy usage, to earn incentives by participating in challenges, and to reduce their demand on the energy grid during peak times. During two specific DR challenges initiated by Jemena, the network found that, on average, participating households were able to reduce their peak energy consumption between 23 and 35 percent.
UK Power Networks – UK Power Networks is leading Great Britain’s low-carbon energy transition by investing in smart grid and other innovative energy grid technologies. These investments in smarter energy infrastructure have saved customers $195 million since 2015, and UK Power Networks’ incentives for energy generation partners have facilitated the country’s ability to lower its carbon emissions. By listening to energy retailers and taking a customer-centric approach to its work, UK Power Networks is leading the way to the future with an energy grid that is ready for a low-carbon world.