I have blogged
numerous times about the challenge of accurately geolocating underground
utilties. Most recently I blogged about the estimated ROI for
investment in improving the geolocation and other information about
underground utilities and the project of the City of Las
Vegas to create a 3D model of its underground utilities
At the GI_Forum Symposium in Salzburg, Paolo Viskanic of R3 GIS gave a presentation about
a remarkable project that has been underway for the past ten years in the Region of
Lombardy in Northrn Italy.
A pilot project was carried out on the site of the Expo Milano 2015 event in Milan. The
total project area is about 230 000 square meters.
infrastructure including electric power, water, sewers, gas, district
heating, street lighting, and telecommunication, were mapped both from historical records and using ground penetrating radar (GPR). GPR appears to work better in the EU for detecting underground infrastructure because the transmitter power is not s restricted as in the United States. A data model for underground infrastructure was developed for the different types of underground networks based on the Italian DigitPA and the INSPIRE US utility standards.
Most of the data is 2D, but some 3D data has been recorded and used to demonstrate 3D visualization.
of the historical records with the results captured By GPR revealed
signicant discrepancies in the historic record including thousands of meters of unknown infrastructure.
For the known infrastructure the average error in geolocation was about 30%, but much larger errors of up to 100% were also recorded. The conclusion is that even in Europe the record of underground infrastructure can be highly unreliable. That the exercise identifies underground infrastructure that had been previously unknown to the municipalities provides some financial motivation for municipalities because they tax utilties based on the total infrastructure the utilties manitain within city limits.
The data has been made available on the Web via OGC standard protocols and formats (WMS, WFS, KML). The web site has been implemented entirely using open source software.
An economic analysis of the data has been been carried out and the estimated return on investment is about €16 for every € invested in improving the reliability information of underground infrastructure. For comparison the ROI in the United States has been estimated to range from $3 to $21 for every dollar invested. Other benefits include improved safety for workers and the public and fewer traffic disruptions.
Paulo emephasized that there are several critical factors that are required to enable a project like this to be successufl. A clear legal framework is absolutely essential. In addition it is necesary to ensure that all stakeholders are involved. In the case of Lombardy this means EU, national, regional, provincial, and municipal governments.
This is now mandatory for all municipalities in Lombardy, which means that the municipalities will need to map their underground infrastructure by the end of next year. To date about 200 of 1544 municipalities in Lombardy or about 10% have completed mapping their underground infrastructure.
I have blogged
numerous times about the challenge of accurately geolocating underground
utilties. Most recently I blogged about the estimated ROI for
investment in improving the geolocation and other information about
underground utilities and the remarkable project of the City of Las
Vegas to create a 3D model of its underground utilities.
One-Call in the Netherlands (KLIC)
Yesterday at the INSPIRE conference in Florence, Ad van Houtum of the Dutch
Kadaster described how the Netherlands is addressing this challenge. The
Netherlands has had what in North America is called a One-Call or Call-Before-You-Dig system since 1967. The objective of the system is to
prevent damages to the utility network and to ensure the safety of excavators during excavations.
From 1967 to
2010 The Netherlands had a manual One Call System (KLIC) that worked similarly to North American One-Call systems. Anyone planning an
excavation would call the One-Call telephone number and communicate the
location, duration, and other information about the planned excavation.
The One-Call center would contact the relevant utilities (network
operators) who would then send maps of their network infrastructure to
the excavator. (In North America the utilities would more typically send
vans and staff with equipment to try to locate underground facilities.)
The Dutch service was free of charge for excavators and funded by the
network operators. It generally took about three working days to provide
the required information to the excavator.
2010 the Netherlands switched to a digital information system
(KLIC-Online) that worked in a similar way except that everything could
be done online. With KLIC the turnaround time was reduced to hours.
Both the manual and KLIC-Online One-Call systems were voluntary until 2008 when
a law was passed which made KLIC mandatory for both network operators
and excavators with severe penalties for excavators who circumvented the
system. There is also a charge of € 29.50 for every excavation
The Netherlands is now planning the
next version called KLIC 2020. The business drivers for the next version
is to further reduce the number of incidents of excavation damage,
improve the efficiency of both network operators and excavators, and to
make the information available to other domains such as planning and
zoning and public security.
The industry wants the system
to be available 24x7, near real-time, and should include other
information in addition to network infrastructure such as soil types,
ground water, parcel file, and so on.
It also should have a secure
authentication and authorization service. It is planned that the view
service will be based on the OGC WMS standard, and the download service
INSPIRE and KLIC 2020
III Theme 6a Utility Services (INSPIRE US) is the relevant INSPIRE standard.
All government agencies are required to adhere to this standard. This
includes 80 % of the network operators in the Netherlands.
this context the KLIC 2020 system will be INSPIRE US compliant, with
24x7 availability, 99% up time, supporting more than 20 simultaneous
users with a better than 5 second response time for viewing and better
than 20 seconds to begin downloads.
Yesterday at the INSPIRE conference, Federico Prandi gave a presentation about a fascinating open source project called i-SCOPE that involves developing 3D urban models that can be used to provide interactive smart services.
The concept is to develop 3D Urban Information Models (UIM) from accurate urban-scale geospatial information as a basis for smart web services based on geometric, semantic, morphological and structural information at urban scale level. This information can be used by local governments improve decision-making on issues related to urban planning, promote inclusion among various users groups (e.g. elder or disabled citizens), involve citizens collecting geo-referenced information based on location based services. i-SCOPE provides an open platform on which ‘smart city’ services can be developed.
The models are based on CityGML 2.0. CityGML includes 3D geometry, topology, semantics, and appearance for urban environments. CityGML also supports a standard mechanism for adding extensions,
called Application Domain Extensions (ADEs). There are several Application Domain Extensions (ADEs) that have been developed to extend CityGML to other domains. For example, I blogged about a basic extension UtilityNetworksADE that was proposed for city utility networks.
The I-SCOPE project has three very practical goals
Improved inclusion and personal mobility of aging and disabled
citizens through an accurate city-level
personal routing service which accounts for detailed urban layout,
features and barriers.
Optimization of energy consumption through a
service for accurate assessment of solar energy potential and energy
loss at the building level.
Environmental monitoring through a real-time
environmental noise mapping service leveraging citizen’s involvement
will who act as distributed sensors city-wide measuring noise levels
through their mobile phones.
The concept is to develop ADEs to extend CityGML 2.0 for these three application areas.
A very interesting and innovative aspect of the project is to use crowdsourcing to collect data for two of the application areas, mobility and noise mapping. For example, for noise mapping the idea is to create real-time and aggregated noise maps through data collected by citizens who use of their mobile phones as noise sensors measuring city-wide noise levels. In this way citizens are involved as prosumers (producers and consumers) of environmental data.
Some of the challenges of this approach that Federico discussed include estimating statistical significance, verifying the accuracy of citizen reported noise levels, and relating noise levels to specific features of the city model.
I've blogged about the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, (DMIC) a huge US$ 90 billion project 1,483 km in length linking Delhi and Mumbai. The objective of the DMIC is to create a base for economic development by providing access to the best state-of-the-art infrastructure. This project includes nine large Industrial zones of about 200-250 km2., a high speed freight line, three ports, six airports and a 4000 MW power plant. An influence region of 150 km on either side of the freight line comprises the DMIC. It strikes me that what is being created is a megaregion, a concept that is getting a lot of attention in the United States,
A megaregion is a new scale of geography that blurs the traditional boudaries between metropolitan regions, like what the DMIIC is doing with respect to Mumbai, Delhi and other smaller cities. These population centers include Interlocking economic systems, shared natural resources and ecosystems, and common transportation systems. Population growth and increasing urbanization are the driving forces behind megaregions.
America2050 has defined 11 megaregions in the United States. Megaregions are defined by relationships that define a common interest.. According to Amerca2500 the five major categories of relationships that define megaregions are:
Environmental systems and topography
Settlement patterns and land use
Shared culture and history
Most of a country's rapid population growth and economic expansion is expected to occur in these megaregions.
These aggregations are so large that they need to be modeled and managed as smart cities. For example, the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) is intended to be comprised of seven smart cities. According to URENIO these smart cities are compact, vertical developments. They use digital technology to create smart grids for better management of civic infrastructure. They have an efficient public transportation system. They recycle sewage water for industrial use. Green spaces, cycle tracks and easy accessibility to goods, services and activities are designed to foster a sense of community.. They have underground utility corridors for parking, sewage disposal and communication lines. Public transport is available within a 10-minute walk from home or office.
I've blogged previously about a project by the Los Angeles Community College District, the largest community college district in the U.S., create 3D BIM models
of all the buildings on the LACCD campuses. One of the most important
motivations for creating these models was that BIM models would
faciliate energy performance analyses of LACCD buildings.
Reducing energy usage in The Hague
At the Geospatial World Forum 2013
(GWF 2013) conference in Rotterdam Martinus Vranken and Jene van der Heide of the Dutch Kadasre described a project to model a square kilometer of downtown The Hague with the objective of reducing and stabilizing energy usage and costs for the entire area.
The Dutch Ministry of the Interior has initiated a joint project with the Municipal government of The Hague to reduce and stabiize energy usage and costs in downtown The Hague, including the use of renewable energy. The study area is roughly about a square kilometer of The Hague where the buildings are large and mostly owned by the National and Municipal governments. The Dutch Kadaster has been contracted to provide an information system to assist the Ministry of Interior in developing a business case.
The Kadaster has combined its own data with that from other government agencies
Ownership and building information
Underground grids electricity, gas and heat
Ministry of the Interior and City of The Hague
Surfaces suitable for solar panels
Province of South Holland
Heat pump facilities
Solar probability map
Wind probability map
Ministry of Economic Affairs
Permits for geothermal concessions
The Kadaster has assembled land registry information like ownership, monument status; building information such as year of completion, surface area, energy labels, energy indices; information on underground networks like heat networks, gas and electricity grids; together with government information on heat pump facilities, energy consumption of buildings, and available building facade area suited for solar panels. Combining this information provides a tool that the Ministry is using to develop the busness case for a new form of energy supply that is reliable, clean, and affordable.
The two main challenges have been to translate this information to fit the perspective of the Ministry of the Interior and structuring the information so that it can be reused for similar projects in the future.
The next steps on the project are data collection and processing, defining business case, and tendering and then transition to the new energy supply.
The lessons learned so fare are interesting. First of all, visualization using a geospatial information platform has been vital in developing the business case. This approach has provided important Insight into the energy and heat exchange possibilities between buildings and enabled exploration of the possibilities of solar, wind and geothermal energy. The geospatial approach also provides a platform which the private sector can use as a foundation in preparing bids for the project.
There is a video about this project available here.
Infrastructure-excellence.com is hosting the second annual competition showcasing Excellence in Infrastructure— highlighting the best projects done in 2012/2013.
The winners will be given over US$10,000 in prizes by the competition sponsors. The competition is open to anyone 21 years and older who is planning, designing, building, and managing infrastructure projects. Project types may include the following:
Transportation (roads and highways, rail, airports, or bridges)
Land development (commercial sites, subdivisions, public parks, or recreation)
Water (distribution, water resources, dams and levees, or wastewater)
Energy (electric and gas distribution, electric transmission, and substation design)
On Thursday and Friday of this week the Centre for Spatial Law and Policy is co-hosting a conference with Harvard University's Center for Geographic Analysis (CGA), Berkman Center of Internet and Society and Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. The conference, titled "Creating the Policy and Legal Framework for a Location-enabled Society" will be live-streamed and combines leaders from many of the diverse aspects of the geospatial community (many of whom are members of the Centre) with internationally-recognized academics and researchers from Harvard and other top universities.
If you have some time on Thursday and Friday you can watch/listen to the conference over the web. Details will be posted here.
At SPAR 2013 Keith Warren, BIM/3D SUE Manager at VTN Consulting gave a fascinating presentation on the 3D above and below ground model of city infrastructure including roads, utilities, telecom, and buildings that VTN has developed with the City of Las Vegas. Keith believes that at the present time Las Vegas' 3D city infrastructure model is unique in North America.
This model also represents a classic example of the benefits of convergence, the integration of engineering design data including building information models (BIM), geospatial data including digital terrain models, high resolution photogrammetry, and point clouds derived from laser scanning, together with 3D visualization technology.
About five years ago the City of Las Vegas approached VTN because they saw some potential value in 3D modeling. At that time the city had had little experience with 3D modeling. VTN has a broad range of in-house capabilities spannng engineering (traffic, public works, and 3D subsurface utility engineering), survey including laser scanning, GIS, building information modeling, and visualization. Over the next two years VTN focused on education, working with the city and other utility agencies to introduce them to 3D modeling and visualization technology. VTN organized workshops with the city, local utiltiies including the water district, and other public agencies to educate them in some of the capabilities of the new technology. At the same time they worked with the city and other public agencies to understand the problems they were facing.
Challenge: subsurface utility engineering (SUE)
One of the problems that was identified repeatedly in these workshops, not only at the City but also at the utilities, was hitting underground infrastructure during excavations. According to national statistics, in the United States an underground utility line is hit on average every 60 seconds. The total cost to the national economy is estimated to be in the billions of dollars. The problems is that in most municipalities in North America, for years underground utility lines have been put in the ground not according to plan but wherever it has been easiest and cheapest to build them. In addition 2D as-builts of underground infrastructure are unreliable. The result is that in most municipalities the location of underground utiltiies is very poorly known. This was the situation in Las Vegas.
Since the city had been educated on 3D modeling technology by VTN, they decided that this technology could provide a solution for the problem of locating underground utilities. The City decided to go ahead with a project to model one and half miles of Main Street in the older part of Las Vegas. The project was intended to model below and above ground facilities including roadways, utilities and telecommunications, and buildings.
The project also specified implementation of a new low distortion geospatial coordinate system to make it possible to support engineering grade accuracy for geolocating infrastructure.
Buildings were modeled in several ways, including extruding a building footprint from a GIS, using building models from the Sketchup 3D Warehouse, laser scanning existing structures, and complete BIM models for newer buildings provided by architects.
A variety of techniques were used for reality capture of underground utilities and other infrastucture includng GIS, survey, design records, test holes, and ground penetrating radar (GPR). Above ground utilities were captured by combining GIS data with mobile laser scanning.
In the future to improve data quality for underground infrastructure, since the City owns most of the right of ways within Las Vegas proper (some is owned by the Nevada DOT), it has mandated that in the future contractors are required to use open trenching for utiities and all work has to be surveyed before the trench is closed.
Intelligent city infrastructure model
The deliverable was a set of 3D models of all the underground and aboveground infrastructure and buildings for the one and a half mile corridor of Main Street in old Las Vegas. Engineering design and other data was combined with the City's geoimagery, digital terrain models and other GIS data. The models were designed to run with the software that Las Vegas already had including Civil 3D, Navisworks, ESRI ArcGIS and Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler (Infraworks).
Working with a partner VTN developed an application for the iPad that allowed underground facilities to be viewed virtually under the actual roadway.
Map-21 and Every Day Counts
Map-21 and Every Day Counts are Federal Highway Authority (FHWA) initiatives that are designed to encourage the adoption of 3D modeling. MAP-21 (Moving ahead for progress in the 21st Century) requires 3D modeling and virtual construction and visualization technology for all eligible projects. The Federal government will provide matching funding on projects using intelligent 3D modeling and visualization of up to 5% fo project costs. The Map-21 initiative was announced last July, but it turns out that
what Las Vegas has done is in Keith's estimation 80-90% compliant with
Every Day Counts is another FHWA initiative that encourages 3D modeling. According to the FHWA 3D modeling in transportation construction allows for faster, more accurate and more efficient planning and construction. The FHWA foresees that as the benefits are more widely recognized, many in the U.S. highway industry will transition to 3D modeling over the traditional two-dimensional (2D) design process.
Benefits of the intelligent 3D city infrastructure model
One of the major benefits that Las Vegas has experienced as a result of developing the intelligent 3D city infrastructure model is increased safety because of the reduced risk of unexpectedly hitting underground utilities especially hazardous ones like gas mains.
The benefits of being able to accurately locate existing underground infrastructure are immense. They include automated clash detection to identify potential problems when plannng, designing and constructing new undergound infrastructure. Also there are reduced operating costs because of reduced truck rolls for cable/pipe locate operations.
Overall the City has found that the 3D model approach provides more information per dollar invested, in other words more capabilities at lower cost.
There are several business models for water distribution including investor owned, coops, regional associations, private-public partnerships and municipal. In the UK there are a small number of regulated regional investor owned water utilities like Thames Water, Northwest Water and Southern Water each of which serves millions of customers. But in many parts of the world water and waste water are a municipal responsibility. In France water and waste water are the responsibility of municipalities, but 75% of water and 50% of waste water services are contacted out to private sector companies like Veolia and Suez. In the Unites States there are about 54,000 community public water systems, which are either publicly owned, cooperatives or privately owned. But about 50,000 of these systems provide water in localities with less than 10,000 inhabitants.
Water and waste water funding gap
Only a portion of water infrastructure maintenance and operations costs are covered by rates in the United States, the rest comes from grants from several levels of government. Both the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has estimated that the water infrastructure funding gap is on the order of $20 billion per year. As a result most municipalities across North America under-invested in water infrastructure for years and many are now faced with the reality of aging infrastructure with increasing leakage and breakage, competition for more limited (quality and quantity) sources of water, and the increasingly costly impact of regulation from state and Federal regulators. Assuming every pipe would need to be replaced, the cost over the coming decades could reach more than $1 trillion, according to the American Water Works Association (AWWA). Capital investment needs for U.S. waste water and storm water systems are estimated to total $298 billion over the next 20 years according to the ASCE.
Municipal water systems are typically departments of the city government and are controlled by the mayor and the city council. And like public water companies around the world, it has been very difficult to persuade elected officials to raise water rates to cover the funding gap. From Margaret Catley-Carlson's perspective, the crossover between elected officials and water and water pricing is one of the universals around the world. She told a story of how even in the great drought of Spain two summers ago Spain was still charging less for water than any of the other European countries. She talked to people in Spain and they understood that paying more for water was part of the solution, but it was not possible to get elected officials to make the decision to increase water rates.
Utilities that have surmounted the funding gap
At the Canadian Water Network conference we heard about two examples of municipally water companies, both of which are unique in their own ways, but both have been able to get the needed funding to fill the gap in infrastructure spending. These companies which may be pointing the way to the future of water delivery.
The first, EPCOR Utilities based in Edmonton, Alberta, is run like a private corporation, but is wholly owned by a municipality for which it is a source of revenue, estimated at about $1.5 billion since it was formed.
The second, Greater Victoria Water Services, is structured like a municipal public water company, but because it is a regional water utility it has a board that has an arms length relationship to its constituency.
One important thing that both of them have in common is that they were both able to successfully structure solutions to problems facing their water utility as a result of a major crisis, a financial crisis in the case of EPCOR and a major water main break in the case of Greater Victoria Water Services.
Don Lowry, past President and CEO of EPCOR Utilities, is a strong believer that the only way to have a functioning water distribution system is that everyone must pay for water. In his view water is not an entitlement, it's a hard earned right. You have to be diligent and work 24x7 on continuously earning that right to have access to water and a sustained, continuous supply of water.
EPCOR was formed in a crisis. The city was faced with a significant financial crises during the Canada's National Energy Program. Facing massive layoffs and job losses, the water system had no choice. It had to carry its own weight, recover its own costs and start to be a growth engine for the city as opposed to a burden for the city. As a result EPCOR Utilities is 100% owned by the City of Edmonton, but it is operated completely as aa commercial enterprise. EPCOR has become the water and waste water provider for a large footprint of water and waste water utilities in Western Canada. They are also the largest private water supplier in the states of Arizona and New Mexico in the U.S.
The way that EPCOR is setup is that it is 100% owned by the City but has an independent board of directors under a universal shareholders' agreement that puts it on a standalone basis. It must finance its operation completely from earnings of the business or what it raises on the capital markets. It has a BBB+ credit rating. EPCOR pays its shareholder a dividend. Since 1998 the dividend was $67 million annually, today it is $144 million. The company has returned back to the shareholder over $1.5 billion in cash, taxes, fees and dividends and this is growing. EPCOR pays tax in every jurisdiction in which it does business and it competes in the capital markets. Most importantly EPCOR fully costs its water, there are no subsidies. They are able to compete and EPCOR's water utilities are thriving and growing..
The three key challenges EPCOR sees facing water today is the scarcity of it, the deterioration of the infrastructure and and most importantly the fragmented approach that we in North America take to its operation, regulation and financing.
The increasing scarcity of water is an absolute growing concern. In southern Alberta it has been fully allocated. There can be no further development unless there is trading of water rights or the diversion of water from one use to another. EPCOR is working to make better utilization of the water that they use. For example, they are capturing the water that we would have previously diverted back into the river after processing it through their waste water treatment plant and are piping 15 million liters per day to a Suncor refienry ro make petrochemical products. But in the long run the scarcity of water is going to lead to longer pipes, bigger pumps, more chemicals, more competition for water, higher costs and Don believes that the current service delivery model is not going to make it.
North American infrastructure is getting older. Most of the infrastructure that was put in Canada and most in the US was put in major chunks. A lot of it in the 60s and 70s and it is old and deteriorated and needs to be replaced. On top of that you need to layer the growth requirements and the replacement requirements. In Canada alone it is estimated to amount to about $80 billion for replacement and to plan for the growth of infrastructure, pumps, pipes, valves, plants, and meters necessary to deliver that essential service. In the US it's estimated to be over a trillion dollars. In Edmonton EPCOR has a major program underway to replace the cast iron pipe that was put in shortly after the Second World War, that has deteriorated dreadfully, causing leaks and water main breaks. As a result they are starting to see results, fewer leaks and less breakage. This is an example of a program EPCOR expects that that other municipalities are gong to have start to aggressively implement to replace ageing infrastructure. \
North America is backward in terms of how we approach the treatment, the delivery, and the recycling of water across Canada and US in terms of the shear number of companies. There are over 54 000 water companies in the US, ranging from the local water company in a town of 10 people up to millions of people in New York, However, 8% of those companies serve 81 % of the entire population. The other 92% serve 19% of the population. The story is not much different in Alberta. Of the over 530 water companies in Alberta, the top 10 water utilities serve 76 % of the population, the other 520 or so serve 24% of the population. Don's point is that with such a fragmented structure we can't get the economies of scale that we see in other industries in our society, such as airlines, telephony, wireless, natural gas, and electricity. The present fragmented state of the industry it brings its own stream of inefficiencies and concerns such as how do you adequately train people in very small water utilities and how do you fund all these water utilities. Even more critically how do you ensure that what happened in Walkerton and North Battleford (well publicized outbreaks of water borne disease outbreaks in small communities) don't get repeated.
According to Don, the Government of Alberta has taken a first step in this direction and has embarked on a conversation with the regions within the province to look at the watersheds and consider the creation of utilities similar to EPCOR that could achieve an economy of scale for all of the water needs for each region. This could be a first step toward shrinking the over 530 existing water companies down to perhaps 10 or 12 to begin to achieve some efficiencies of scale.
Water Services, Capital Region District, Greater Victoria, British Columbia
Jack Hull, General Manager of Water Services of the Capital Region District in Victoria, British Columbia, gave an overview of some of the successes Greater Victoria Water Services have had in implementing some of the measures that have been implemented by EPCOR.
First of all he said categorically that there is no infrastructure deficit in the Greater Victoria water supply system. It was eliminated over a 15 year period. Like a lot of municipalities the Greater Victoria Water started off in the early 90s with underinvestment. “If it breaks, we'll fix it, but we won't be proactive.” Greater Victoria Water put a strategic plan in place to address water supply, water quality, and infrastructure and pricing issues. They moved to a utility model for pricing, which is based on the asset base. Over the next 15 years with over $200 million in investment Greater Victoria Water eliminated its infrastructure deficit and addressed its water quality and quantity issues.
All the decision making was ultimately done by a group of politicians who recognized that if they didn't invest, there was going to be a major negative impact on the quality of life within the capital region.
Greater Victoria Water also runs the distribution systems that serves about 60 000 people in five neighbouring municipalities. Similarly to EPCOR's cast iron pipes problem in Edmonton, it was necessary to replace asbestos cement pipes. Greater Victoria Water recommended a 10 year program to address this issue, but the politicians came back and said no we want to do it in five years and they put the money behind it to do it in five years.
Greater Victoria Water has been able to successfully promote water conservation. A utility model obviously is able to generate revenue. According to Jack every cent of that revenue goes back into improving the infrastructure and eliminating the deficit. During the same period, particularly in the last 10 years, Greater Victoria experienced 14 % growth in population, but water demand dropped by 8% during that same period. In 2001 Greater Victoria Water had a ban on outdoor water use for 9 months of the year. Last year normal water use was down to that level without anything extraordinary in terms of water restrictions.
From Jack's perspective, given the right group of politicians and the right group of managers you can achieve much of what EPCOR has done without going to the fully corporatized model.
Jack said that he fully supports what EPCOR has done with small systems because that is where the real issue is. Small systems do not have the resources to deal with some of these issues and that is where an organization like EPCOR can provide significant assistance, which a regional government can't do because of the legislation that controls regional government.
With respect to governance the Greater Victoria Water board is one step away from the electorate because they are members of local councils who are appointed to the regional board. They are elected officials at the local level, but appointed to the regional board and appointed to the water commission so they are one step away from being directly elected to the board.
The other thing that contributed to this achievement was a crisis. On New Year's Eve in 1992 Victoria had a major water main break. A 36" water main burst and caused a lot of damage. So when Greater Victoria Water reviewed its budget that year they had lots of photos of all the damage caused by the water main break. The fact that it took 18 hours to shut the water off because the valves hadn't been serviced probably since 1915 when they were installed. There were photos of air release valves that couldn't be recognized as valves, because they were just clumps of rust. As a result when at the budget review Water Services asked for some money to do a study on infrastructure, Jack related that this was one of two times in the last 20 years when politicians asked him if he was sure he had enough money in his budget, didn't he need some more ?
The most important conclusion I take from this is that water needs to be fully costed from the water source to treatment and reinjection if we are going to have sustainable water systems that work. The second is that there are several ways to skin the cat but setting up a governance structure that allows the water utility to be run an arm's length from the elected politicians seems to be key. Thirdly, small water systems are facing a crisis, because it is going to be increasingly difficult and expensive for them to access the resources they need and it may be regional companies based on the EPCOR model that can resolve this problem. And the moral of the story is don't waste a good crisis.
At Distributech last week I had a chance to sit down with Bill Menge, Director of Kansas City Power and Light's (KCP&L)
Smart Grid Demonstration Project. Kansas City Power & Light and its partners are demonstrating a comprehensive smart grid that includes most of the components commonly associated with smart grid including distributed generation, distribution automation, and customer empowerment. Part of the demonstration area contains the Green Impact Zone, 150 inner-city blocks that suffer from high levels of unemployment, poverty, and crime. Efforts in the Green Impact Zone will focus on training residents to implement weatherization and energy efficiency programs to reduce utility bills, conserve energy, and create jobs.
Kansas City Power and Light (KCP&L) is an investor owned utility with a service territory stretching over two states (Missouri and Kansas) with a total of 830'000 meters. KCP&L has a history of a progressive culture with the respect to new technology. They were an early adopter of AMR in the mid 1990s. They were also early adopters of digital outage management (OMS) and AM/FM/GIS.
The smart grid pilot is being supported by the Department of Energy. The total project value is $54 million, of which $24 million comes from a DOE SGIG grant. The demonstration area consists of ten circuits served by one substation across two square miles with 14,000 commercial and residential customers. The pilot is taking place in Missouri with the support of the Missouri PUC, which is so interested in the technology that they have a full-time employee dedicated to smart grid.
The pilot is quite comprehensive involving most aspects of smart grid including smart meters; time of use pricing; electrical vehicle charging including 10 Level 2 charging stations; home area networks with Zigbee; residential and commercial rooftop solar PV (total of 180 MW capacity); an automated substation based on the 61850 standard; distribution automation including line monitors; smart buildings; electricity storage (batteries with a total of one MWh capacity); in-home display; a full range of back office systems including AMI, MDM, DMS, OMS, D-SCADA, data analytics, and DERM (automated demand response); and cybersecurity.
KCP&L were able to obtain special time of use rates for the pilot from the PUC of 6 cents/kWh off-peak and 34 cents/kWh peak (3-7 pm).
The pilot also includes a significant public education component. An Innovation Center has been built which is designed to enable the public to see the main components of the pilot first hand.
The pilot was initiated in October 2010 when the first smart meter was installed. It is expected that most of the components will be in place by the end of February of this year. The full system will be able to be tested in its entirety by the end of June. The pilot is scheduled to run for two years during which time data will be collected and the costs and benefits of the system calculated. KCP&L appears to have a very open mind about the outcome of the pilot, their feeling being that with this much new technology it is hard to predict what the benefits will be in advance. Of course, Missouri is well known as the "Show me" state which may have something to do with it too. They are tracking costs during the design and build process and will collect data during the two years of operation, after which the data will be analyzed and the results provided to KCP&L, the Missouri PUC and DoE.