Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Teaming up to reduce emissions

We're excited to be part of a collaborative groundbreaking project to provide information which ultimately empowers energy consumers in their daily decision-making about environmental stewardship.  Get the HERO (Home Emissions Read-Out) app HERE.

As Commonwealth's Steve Miller recently put it,“If we are successful, one outcome might be a service which (people) can employ with their appliances. To choose the time of day or place where using their appliance will cause more or less emissions.”

Click HERE to read the full MLive article.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Shining the light on outage prevention

Today marks the infamous 10th anniversary of the August 14, 2003 blackout of the eastern United States.  The massive outage, or megablackout, determined to be the result of a tree branch in Ohio initially taking out a 345kV line, compounded by cascading failure, affected over 50 million people with an economic fallout estimated at ten billion dollars. 

Over the past decade, a great deal of effort has gone into reducing the chances of a similar widespread outage occurring in the future.  Areas of success include the creation and strengthening of standards associated with the planning and operation of power systems, and the application of new technologies, particularly Phasor Measurement Units (PMU) -- a technology driven by the same GPS technology driving the universal mapping functions in our phones and other applications -- to situational awareness. 

Despite these advances, as more recent incidents demonstrate, more work remains to be done.  Fundamental components, such as transmission lines and transformers that make up the grid, need to be updated and added to meet current needs and the desire to support new generation sources including wind, solar and natural gas fired plants.  When it comes to the potential for cascading outages of the grid, techniques for consistent analyzing these events prior to their occurrence and identifying cost effective remedies are still in their infancy.

Commonwealth Associates is an active participant in planning, identifying, and implementing such solutions and we always welcome opportunities to discuss techniques and collaborate in creating solutions.  For information about our Transmission Grid Analytics - Cascade Analysis (TM) software that helps to prevent future blackouts, click here.  In a nutshell, it provides:
  • A verifiable and complete list of “breaker-to-breaker” contingencies
  • Identification of ALL contingencies that cause violations and a direct or indirect assessment of all double (Category B and C) contingency combinations
  • Analytical methodology to supplement your engineer’s experience and judgment
  • Objective, repeatable, and reasonable classification of contingencies that cause A/R violations into those that will not cause outages beyond a predetermined area and those that cannot be eliminated as potential causes for widespread outages
  • Priority list of trouble facilities that identifies and suggests root causes for contingencies that may initiate widespread outages
  • Independent evaluation of your system suitable for use as compliance documentation that management can include in their "due diligence" reporting
  • Custom solutions

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

25 Years...and Counting!

This July, Commonwealth celebrated 25 years of being an employee-owned engineering firm providing world-class consulting expertise to the electric power industry and our utility, municipal, institutional, and industrial clients.  You can read more about this particularly meaningful milestone on p. 28 (p. 30 of the .pdf) of Jackson Magazine's August issue

The festivities included monthly fun activities, the official unveiling of new glass panels in our hallway of history; a Friday evening gala at the newly renovated Robert Snyder Hall in Jackson College's impressive Potter Center, where we recognized our founding shareholders and employees; and a spectacular day full of food, frolicking, and fun at our employee family picnic on the grounds of our headquarters in Jackson, Michigan. 

We feel truly honored to work with such accomplished colleagues, many of whom serve on the committees setting tomorrow's industry standards, and even more honored to be given the trust and loyalty of our outstanding clients -- among them major utilities, industrial leaders, and some of the world's most prestigious educational and healthcare institutions. 

Here is a look back at some of the best memories from this past week...we hope you enjoy them!

On Thursday, President Dennis DeCosta proudly revealed
 two new commemorative panels representing the past 25 years.

Friday evening's gala attendees enjoyed the culinary delights of
Continental Services before the program.

Guests raved about the humorous delivery of keynote speaker, author,
and former professional comedian, Garrison Wynn.
 Saturday's family picnic included: two bands, one dessert contest, a pinewood
derby championship, inflatables for kids, and the Great Anniversary Giveaway.
25 years meant 25 lucky employees took home 25 very cool prizes.

The other winner was the fight against cancer, as President DeCosta
and the VPs took to the dunk tank to raise money for Relay for Life.