Power Electronics Milestone
Jan 1, 1999 12:00 PM

The world's first GaN ****l oxide semiconductor field effect transistor (MOSFET) has been fabricated, a significant landmark toward development of ultra high-power inverters for switching and control capabilities in high-voltage ac and dc power circuits.
Silicon-based MOSFETs are key components in today's fastest inverters. Switches based on wide-bandgap semiconductors such as GaN promise to handle higher power levels and operating temperatures, expanding applicability and performance.
Fabrication of the GaN MOSFET, led by a consortium headed by University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, U.S., represents one early milestone in a three-year, US$14 million advanced power electronics initiative by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Palo Alto, California, U.S., and the U.S. Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Six consortia are funded under the EPRI-DARPA program, which is accelerating development of high-power devices and circuits for electric power and defense applications.
Meter Data Management Utility Translation Systems (UTS) of Spokane, Washington, U.S., a wholly owned subsidiary of Itron Inc., announced that Electrabel, the largest electric utility in Belgium, has selected UTS's MV-90 software to collect and manage commercial and industrial metering data throughout its service territory. UTS MV-90 software retrieves and processes complex advanced metering and load data for billing, load research and system engineering applications.
Electrabel is responsible for generating 90% of Belgium's electricity and distributing 80%. Based on Electrabel's market power strength, UTS MV-90 software will serve the vast majority of Belgium's commercial and industrial electricity users, with the capacity to serve up to 18,000 accounts throughout the country.
According to UTS, the MV-PBS billing system was developed in close cooperation with several utilities to solve complex billing problems. Using a flexible-pricing matrix, MV-PBS quickly generates bills and invoices for industrial and commercial accounts using the simplest rates or the most complex schedules. The software is currently used by more than 400 utilities worldwide.
Automated Metering and Data Collection System Duke Energy, Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., announced it will be the first North American utility to install the Siemens L&G C2000 automated metering and data collection system. With over 70 installations throughout Europe and Asia, the L&G C2000 energy data system from the Meter Division of Siemens Power Transmission & Distribution LLC has been enhanced specifically for North American utility applications. The system provides extensive energy data processing based on load profiles.
The ability of L&G C2000 to apply complex rate conditions directly on the load profile provides data integration into critical utility processes such as billing and contract management. Open standards and modular architecture ensures that the system can be interfaced with a utility's existing information technology infrastructure.
According to Richard Camery, Duke's manager for Power Systems Automation and Metering, the utility's selection of the system represents a major stride in the company's Advanced Data Acquisition and Processing Technology (ADAPT) initiative. "The application of this technology is a key strategy for us because it enables Duke to strengthen and support both its regulated and de-regulated businesses," Camery said. "With the L&G C2000, Duke can effect significant increases in customer service, revenue and operational efficiency."
As an open UNIX system based on the DEC Alpha platform and the Oracle relational database, the L&G C2000 is highly scaleable and will be offered in a variety of client-server configurations for the North American market. Extensive features include a business-process oriented human machine interface, flexible data import and export, and advanced capabilities for scheduling, report and graphic generation. Data aggregation and flexible rate application are supported through the tariff engine.
The use of well-defined relational structures within the database supports complex queries as well as role-based access to customer data and full audit controls. Grid metering for transmission level customers and other special applications are also available.
ComEd to Outsource Communications Network Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), a subsidiary of Chicago-based Unicom Corp., has established a multi-year, multi-million dollar agreement with Motorola to provide management, maintenance and system support services for the utility's SmartZone communications network, comprised of 20 transmitter sites that support over 3,500 operations, maintenance, transmission, distribution and customer service employees. Motorola has shared a strategic relationship with ComEd for 30 years as its exclusive provider of wireless two-way radio service and support, which is one reason ComEd turned to Motorola when it looked to outsource management of its communications network. ComEd primarily is engaged in the production, purchase, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity to wholesale and retail customers and wanted to continue its core focus on customer service.
Motorola will also provide comprehensive wide-are radio and microwave systems needs analysis and planning for disaster recovery, storm restoration, long-term technology direction and migration, user training and evaluation, and measurement of system performance.
"As we transition to a competitive market, it's critical that our employees have access to the resources and information they need in the field to provide fast, accurate response to our customers' needs," explained Oliver Butler, ComEd vice president. "With Motorola's expertise in turnkey operations, ComEd will be better equipped to respond to day-to-day customer needs as well as disaster and storm response.