The editors of POWERGRID International magazine (formerly Utility Automation & Engineering T&D magazine) announced four winners for the magazine's annual Projects of the Year Awards program.

The winners were selected for four specific categories: Best Energy Efficiency/Demand Response Project, Best Grid Integration of Renewables Project, Best Smart Grid Project and Best Smart Metering Project.

The awards were given out today during the keynote presentation at the DistribuTECH 2010 conference in Tampa, Fla.

For more details on these award winners, see the April issue of POWERGRID International magazine.

Best Energy Efficiency/Demand Response Project
The winner of the Energy Efficiency/Demand Response Project of the Year Award is PJM for the organization's Interconnect Demand Response Integration project.

The PJM Interconnection regional transmission organization is the world's largest power grid, serving 51 million people across 13 states and the District of Columbia.

In June 2009, PJM implemented a next-generation software system to expand demand-side resources and improve the operational efficiency of demand-side programs in its wholesale electricity markets. The software, eLRS, based on UISOL's DRBizNet, links and automates wholesale power market transactions that involve PJM, utilities and demand response curtailment service providers. Some 750 users in 200 market participant organizations are using eLRS to enable more than 7,500 megawatts of demand response in PJM energy, capacity or ancillary services markets.

PJM sought a flexible secure, standards-based system that could cost effectively adapt to meet future needs and market rule changes. It markets over 7,000 MW of demand resources that represent approximately 450,000 end-use customers. The eLRS solution is one of the largest and most sophisticated production deployments of a demand response management system in the world.

Best Grid Integration of Renewables Project
The winner of the Grid Integration of Renewables Project of the Year Award is Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) for the GRU Feed-in Tariff project.

In the fall of 2008, The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) awarded Ed Regan, assistant general manager for strategic planning for Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), and several utility executives throughout the country a grant to visit Germany and witness first-hand Germany's booming solar industry. The stimulus behind that solar boom is Germany's feed-in tariff, a pay-for-performance policy mechanism designed to encourage the adoption of renewable energy.

On January 15, 2009, the Gainesville City Commission unanimously approved a solar feed-in tariff (FIT) ordinance, thereby making Gainesville Regional Utilities the first entity in the nation to offer such an incentive. The ordinance allows GRU to accept a maximum of four cumulative MW of PV installations into the FIT program per year. GRU treats projects on a first-come-first-serve basis, with a queue available for when the yearly MW allotment fills. GRU began accepting applications on March 1, 2009. Within one month of the program's initiation, the queue filled through 2012. In November 2009, the queue filled through 2016 and GRU placed a hold on accepting applications.

GRU's FIT model has been replicated throughout the country, with feed-in tariffs now available in states such as California, Vermont, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.

Best Smart Grid Project
The winner of the Smart Grid Project of the Year Award is the City of Ruston, Louisiana for the City of Ruston Smart Grid Innovation project.

Ruston, located in Lincoln Parish between Shreveport and Monroe in north Louisiana, is home to 20,546 residents. The coverage area is approximately 16 square miles, containing a meter population estimated at 10,600 electric meters and 8,872 water meters.

While the centerpiece of Ruston's program is AMI, the planning also includes an integrated MDM system, which will be closely integrated with the AMI system to provide enhanced smart grid/AMI functionality, including: data integration/normalization, aggregation/settlement, load profiling, centralized meter data storage and a loss analysis reporting system (LARS).

LARS will provide a comprehensive view of line loss by systematically reconciling wholesale power purchase records with power purchase sales down to the substation and individual feeder circuit. This allows pinpointing where losses occur and operational corrections can be made to recover revenue and increase the efficiency of the distribution network. Additionally, the system will provide a real-time, multi-layering graphical interface, enabling a view of overall system state-of-the-utility network.

Ruston's leadership in pursuing a holistic smart grid vision is forward-thinking, especially compared to peer-sized utilities across the nation.

Best Smart Metering Project
The winner of the Smart Metering Project of the Year Award is Pulaski Electric for the Lightspeed AMI project.

Pulaski Electric System (PES) provides power to 15,000 homes and businesses in Giles County, Tennessee. As Tennessee's oldest municipal utility and the first in the state to receive power from the Tennessee Valley Authority, PES has a long history of providing top tier service through the use of technologies. Getting full Smart Grid functionality – namely Advanced Metering, Demand Response & Distribution Automation – from a fiber optic network was a logical step for a city-owned utility that prides itself on being one of the most progressive in the state.

PES reasoned that fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) is really an extension of municipal infrastructure and is as important as good roads, schools and other essential services. When attracting a big name provider for a project that involved laying 130 miles of optical fiber to connect a mere 5000 premises in Pulaski city proper became a problem, the utility decided to build its own FTTH network--a decision that gained overwhelming endorsement from residents and unanimous approval from town council. It also put PES on a short list of municipal utilities to own and operate its own FTTH network.

PES leverages the high-speed FTTH network for smart grid functionality, implementing a multi-application hybrid AMI network that offers flexible expansion options using either fiber or RF communications and putting PES ahead of many larger IOUs in the smart metering arena. With the FTTH system in place, PES can move quickly into customer service and monitoring options without delay.