EEI president Tom Kuhn and chairman David Ratcliffe presented the 2009 Edison Award to two U.S. utilities. Accepting the award on behalf of their companies were Jose Delgado, CEO of American Transmission Company, and Chuck Shivery, CEO of Northeast Utilities.
The Edison Award recognizes U.S. and international electric companies for outstanding leadership, innovation and advancement of the electric industry. A panel of past electric company CEOs selects the award winners.
American Transmission Company (ATC) owns, operates, builds and maintains the high-voltage electric transmission system serving portions of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois. ATC in 2008 completed the Arrowhead-Weston transmission line, a 345-kilovolt, 220-mile-long line between Wausau, WI and Duluth, MN that has significantly improved northern Wisconsin’s reliability while easing constraints on the region’s other major transmission line, the Eau Claire-Arpin line. The new transmission line allows for the movement of larger volumes of lower-cost electricity to utilities and customers. This has led to savings of $5.1 million by electric customers after its first year in service, and the power it brings into the region helps control price spikes. Due to the high efficiency of the new line, the company estimates a savings of 35 megawatts of on-peak usage on neighboring utility systems and that, over a 40-year life span, 5.7 million megawatt-hours of electricity will be saved and 5.3 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions will be prevented.
Northeast Utilities (NU) operates New England’s largest energy delivery system and serves more than 2 million electricity and natural gas customers. Northeast Utilities in 2008 completed a major, multi-year electric transmission upgrade in southwest Connecticut, an area previously considered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as one of the nation’s most severely congested. The upgrade consisted of four transmission line projects—Bethel-Norwalk, Glenbrook Cables, Long Island Replacement Cable, and Middletown-Norwalk. The utility completed and energized Bethel-Norwalk in 2006 and the rest in 2008. Overall, the four projects were finished ahead of schedule and under budget by $80 million. Since completion, the Bethel-Norwalk project already has generated more than $150 million in congestion-related savings. The Middletown-Norwalk line includes the world’s longest 345-kV buried, solid-core cable (24 miles). The Long Island Replacement Cable project includes 11 miles of cable buried six feet under the sea bed.
“At a time when siting transmission lines is one of our industry’s most formidable challenges, we salute the accomplishments of Northeast Utilities and American Transmission Company” said EEI President Thomas R. Kuhn. “The projects these companies undertook were extremely well-executed and serve as strong examples to the rest of the industry. For that reason, NU and ATC are well-deserving of this year’s Edison Award.
“Both of these companies have succeeded in remarkable reliability efforts, as they have each completed extensive transmission projects to improve reliability and operation for their respective service territories. The need to bring power to customers efficiently continues to be a major concern, and it’s critically important to our energy future that this challenge is addressed.”
David Ratcliffe, chairman, president, and CEO of Southern Company and chairman of the selection committee, presented the 2009 International Edison Award to Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), the Mexican utility. Acepting the award was Alfredo Elias Ayub, CFE director general. The award is given each year in recognition of outstanding leadership, innovation, and advancement of the electric industry.
When a landslide in November 2007 completely blocked the course of the Grijalva River in southeast Mexico, rising waters put the population downstream in grave danger and threatened to damage CFE’s Peñitas hydroelectric power plant. CFE rapidly built a channel to re-connect the river around the natural dam caused by the landslide. The company later had to enlarge the channel while also draining 10 million cubic meters of water from the river without wasting water or affecting the cities downstream. CFE is currently constructing two permanent deviation tunnels connecting the river upstream and downstream from the natural dam in the event of any further blockage. The video developed by the company was impressive.