New meters will be installed at BPA’s transmission substations for eight of the “Big 10” hydro facilities in the Federal Columbia River Power System. This project will provide accurate, revenue-quality net generation data to improve Power and Transmission system operations, and enhance BPA’s ability to provide competitive Power and Transmission products and services.
As BPA emerges from the use of legacy systems and technology into the modern utility landscape, three kinds of tools – automation, improved accuracy and enhanced visibility – drive the transformation that will help BPA achieve its grid modernization objectives.
Behind these tools is a foundational effort to accurately account for every electron that enters BPA’s bulk electric grid.
“Metering is what gives you that foundational data point – the actual net generation entering the Federal Columbia River Transmission System becomes the keystone for every other piece of data, process or project associated with grid modernization,” said Kelly Gardner, project manager for BPA’s Metering Review and Update effort. “You want to support accurate real-time operations? You need metering. Want to reduce your conservative risk tolerance? Better metering will get you there.”
Metering also impacts BPA’s potential participation in the Western Energy Imbalance Market.
“The energy imbalance market puts a price on the error between scheduled and actual generation,” said Steve Kerns, the grid modernization director for the Business Transformation Office at BPA. “Upgrading meters on the Federal Columbia River Power System resources to revenue-quality meters will help Bonneville reduce the risk of unintended imbalance costs and help ensure that we can realize the potential value of market participation if we decide to join the EIM.”
The MRU team was tasked with the massive project of coordinating the inventory and analysis of every interchange, generation and load meter that BPA uses for operations and billing. The effort required an exhaustive search of multiple systems and collaboration across Power, Transmission and Customer Support Services, as well as federal partners like the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
One component of the project focuses on metering at eight of the “Big 10” hydro facilities within the FCRPS – Grand Coulee, Chief Joseph, John Day, The Dalles, McNary, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite. These plants represent a majority of the capacity and balancing capability of the FCRPS, including those that are dispatched by Automatic Generation Control. At each of these facilities, the existing metering is not owned or maintained by BPA.
The Bureau of Reclamation’s meters at Grand Coulee were installed in 1957 and only produced hourly averages of energy use that don’t feed any modern systems. These meters were designed to provide control values and hourly energy, not a settlement-quality, five-minute increment needed by modern markets like the EIM. Also the existing metering was primarily associated with capturing the amount of gross generation coming off the turbines. This amount, however, doesn’t always reflect the net power marketed by BPA and may inaccurately account for station power used before it reaches the bulk electric grid.
“The new meters will tell us how much power actually enters our system,” said Kevlyn Baker, a customer service engineer and the primary subject matter expert for the metering project. Baker noted that the project will help improve the reliable operation of the FCRPS via BPA’s Automatic Generation Control, which adjusts generation to meet changing load needs. “Our new meters will be inputs for work we do throughout the agency.”
A normal scoping effort of eight to ten months was compressed into less than three for the new meters. This was accomplished by a multi-disciplinary team from the Transmission Planning, Engineering and Field organizations. The Project Engineers who lead the scoping efforts were Kelcey Feeny, Ken Roberts, Matt Brown, D’Angelo Stepanoff, and Tyler Reynolds. The team’s lead contracting officer representative, Mike Berg, folded the scoping results into the solicitation that was headed by Contract Officer Jay Lewis.
BPA awarded a contract to Burns & McDonnell in June 2019 to begin the design work, and the project team expects the meters at Grand Coulee, Chief Joseph, John Day, and The Dalles will be completed by April 2021. This will give BPA nearly a full-year of testing to support parallel operations with the new meters before its proposed go-live date in the Western EIM in March of 2022.
A multi-disciplinary team from Transmission Planning, Engineering and Field Services worked to compress the normal scoping timeframe of eight to ten months into less than three for the new meters.