Friday, March 30, 2018

Grid War Games Crash Social Media (Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy)

(WASHINGTON, DC) – A government exercise meant to test the nation's response to attacks against the nation's power grid had the most trouble, not from simulated hackers or bomb attacks, but from its massive stream of simulated newscasts, Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Largest attack exercise: The utility industry's grid security watchdog, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, issued its first report on the GridEx IV exercise Friday, showing it to be its largest grid and infrastructure security event so far.

Adding realism gets difficult: To add to the realism of the war games, the two-day event in November had its own simulated newscasts and social media feeds. It began including traditional and social media in its last GridEx event in 2015. But the expanded array of social media and tweets in last year's exercise almost proved to be too much to handle, according to the report.

Crashing the system: The problem stemmed from realistic newscasts competing for space on the same server with social media, which nearly broke the entire system.

The media platform was used to "imitate" social media, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, in addition to traditional media such as television, newspapers, and radio.

The platform began to buckle under the pressure of juggling both network news and social media.

What did the attacks look like? “We give them an A-Team scenario” that makes it incredibly hard for utilities to cope with the level of attack, said Bill Lawrence, director of NERC’s Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center, on a Friday call.

Describing the attacks: The newscasts and tweets began to flow on day one of the Nov. 15-16 exercise, in which unnamed "adversaries launched coordinated physical attacks at predetermined sites using vehicles to deliver explosive packages to damage and disable generation and transmission facilities." Meanwhile, industry staff were seeing cyber attacks across the system.

Fog of war: Lawrence suggested one of the functions of the social media component is to create the fog of war and escalate confusion. “We live in a world of social media that our adversaries can take advantage of” to “scare” and misinform the population, he said.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Tacoma in Search of Partners for Click! (South Sound Business Journal)

(TACOMA, WA) -- The City of Tacoma released a Request for Information and Qualifications last week to gather feedback from private and public organizations interested in partnering with local public telecommunications provider, Click! Network.

The city is working with CTC Technology & Energy, a consulting firm, to develop the RFI/Q and help select a partner. CTC Technology & Energy has worked as a consultant for U.S. public agencies for over 30 years.

“I am optimistic that we will hear from a variety of organizations that see the Click! Network for the valuable, well-maintained asset that it is,” stated Joanne Hovis, president of CTC Technology & Energy.

The Tacoma Public Utility Board and the Tacoma City Council came up with 12 community policy goals they will expect partners to adhere to, including: continuing public ownership, ensuring equitable access, enforcing net neutrality, promoting economic development and educational opportunities, and protecting customer privacy.

In addition to meeting the community policy goals, partners would be expected to grow Click!’s customer base, upgrade the existing network, and provide support with operations.

Responses to the RFI/Q are due April 27. Tacoma city leaders will review partnership applicants for Click! in May.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Solar Project Planned for Coal Mine Site (KELA Radio, Centralia, WA)

(CENTRALIA, WA) – What used to be the site of a coal mine could turn into one of Washington’s largest solar projects, after energy provider TransAlta unveiled plans for the site.

Lewis County Commissioner Edna Fund told the Centralia City Council Tuesday night that the Tono Solar project would occupy nearly 1,000 acres on the Centralia coal mine site in south Thurston County.

She said they hope to have the project up and running by 2020. It would provide up to 180 megawatts of electricity.

Fund says TransAlta expects construction of the project could provide up to 300 jobs.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

New Agreements Will Deliver Clean Bonneville Power Administration Power to Portland General Electric Customers (Bonneville Power Administration)

Five-year contracts reflect stakeholder interest in deferring construction of new power plants

(PORTLAND, OR) – The Bonneville Power Administration and Portland General Electric Company (NYSE: POR) have reached power purchase agreements that will help fill a projected shortfall in PGE’s generating capacity after 2020, when its Boardman Generating Station ceases coal-fired operations. The agreements will bring additional clean energy – primarily hydropower – to PGE customers while avoiding additional greenhouse gas emissions in the Northwest.

“These agreements are a great opportunity for us to collaborate with BPA to achieve shared goals in the region,” says Maria Pope, PGE’s president and CEO. “This benefits all parties, making the most of available clean, Northwest hydropower to serve PGE customers here in Oregon.”

“These contracts are an example of how BPA is working toward greater cost competitiveness and capturing the additional value of the low carbon, flexible federal resources by strengthening partnerships with regional utilities as we collectively adapt to the rapidly changing energy environment,” says Suzanne Cooper, BPA’s vice president of bulk marketing.

Under two five-year agreements beginning in January 2021, BPA will offer to sell PGE up to 200 megawatts of surplus clean hydropower generated from the Federal Columbia River Power System. At any given moment, that’s enough electricity to power approximately 160,000 Northwest homes.

Negotiations between BPA and PGE began after BPA responded to an inquiry from PGE seeking access to existing regional generating resources. With the encouragement of the Oregon Public Utility Commission and other stakeholders, PGE reached out to BPA and other regional power generators last year as part of its integrated resource planning process to see if its need for additional on-demand generating capacity could be met without committing in the near-term to construction of new power plants.

In addition to allowing BPA to take advantage of a new opportunity to market its clean, flexible hydropower and generate direct revenue as part of a broadening portfolio of power products, the contracts allow PGE more time for new dispatchable resource technologies to mature to help the company integrate increasing amounts of renewable power onto its system. Dispatchable resources like hydroelectricity can help the region achieve its renewable goals by dovetailing with variable output resources like wind and solar to meet load swings.

"This is a great deal for the region. It's a value-added product for the federal power system and a good alternative for PGE. It puts off big new investments in gas that would have locked PGE and its customers into fossil fuels for decades," said Bob Jenks, Oregon Citizens’ Utility Board’s executive director.

“Instead of building new carbon-emitting resources, PGE is able to take advantage of existing clean hydropower, and BPA is able to lock in a future sale to help strengthen its financial health,” said Wendy Gerlitz, NW Energy Coalition’s policy director. “This deal is a win-win for the Northwest.”

While the power supplied to PGE’s system from BPA will come primarily from federal hydro projects, it will not count toward Oregon’s renewable portfolio standard, which requires PGE to serve 50 percent of its customers’ demand for power from qualifying renewable generating resources by 2040. Qualifying resources are generally facilities that began operating after 1995.  Counting both qualifying resources and its owned and contracted carbon-free hydroelectric resources, PGE expects its energy mix to be at least 70 percent carbon free by 2040.

Separately, PGE is preparing to issue a request for proposals later this spring, seeking an additional 100 average megawatts of qualifying renewable power resources to help meet the state’s renewable energy requirements and continue reducing carbon emissions from its system. The company held workshops in Portland on March 2 for stakeholders and potential bidders to provide input before the RFP is finalized. If bids received prove cost-effective for service to customers, whether power purchase agreements or ownership options, PGE expects the resources acquired to be brought into the company’s portfolio in the 2020-2021 timeframe.

Washington State Carbon Tax Dead; Initiative in Works (South Sound Business Examiner)

(OLYMPIA, WA) -- The carbon tax in Washington is officially dead as of March 1. The following day, however, a group of labor and environmental organizations filed a citizen’s initiative with the Secretary of State’s Office that introduces carbon-pricing.

The initiative would begin January 1, 2020 and would establish a carbon fee that would cost $15 per metric ton. The price would add an additional $2 for inflation each subsequent year.

If Washington’s 2035 greenhouse gas reduction goal is met, and emissions are in line with progress towards its 2050 goal, the carbon fee will be flat. The “Clean Up Pollution Fund” would be the sole beneficiary of the funds collected.

The initiative is supported by the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Washington State Labor Council, Washington Conservation Voters, and The Nature Conservancy, among others. Initiative backers have until July 6 to collect 259,622 signatures for the measure to appear on November’s ballot.

Senators Doug Ericksen and Michael Baumgartner introduced SB 6629 on March 6, which is nearly identical to the initiative.