August Newsreel: Stimulus boosts smart metering, Indiana tunnel prevents sewage overflow and more

Smart metering gets boost from stimulus funds
Tunnel will keep overflow sewage out
Improve workflows with civil engineering and stormwater modeling
Three injured in pipeline explosion in Oklahoma

New OSHA training emphasizes workers’ rights
Study finds ductile iron pipe, joints outperforms others in earthquakes
Researchers calculate the cost of CO2 emissions, call for carbon tax
Price Gregory awarded natural gas pipe contract
In Memoriam

Smart metering gets boost from stimulus funds
Honeywell recently announced it is implementing a smart metering network for the city of Duncan, OK, that will allow the municipality to automatically collect electricity and water usage data from residents and local businesses. The smart grid deployment is part of a broader energy-efficiency and public-safety program funded by a 15-year, $14.2 million energy savings performance contract and backed in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The program will help the city improve meter accuracy, reduce its energy and operating costs, and enhance public safety services.

Through the comprehensive program, the city is expected to decrease electricity consumption by 2.2-million kilowatt-hours per year — enough energy to power more than 200 homes annually. The program is also projected to cut annual carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 1,600 metric tons. Honeywell expects to install the smart meter network and complete the upgrades by the end of 2010.

“We’re adding the infrastructure that’s going to allow our city to improve efficiency and reduce spending across several departments,” said city of Duncan Mayor Gene Brown. “The smart metering system in particular will help us better manage our municipal utilities, and ensure that the citizens of Duncan are billed accurately and fairly.”

The city will pay for the entire program through the energy and operational savings, and improved revenue generation the smart meter system and infrastructure upgrades produce. Honeywell guarantees approximately $1.7 million in savings per year as part of the performance contract so the work will not increase city-operating budgets or require additional taxpayer dollars. Duncan will use more than $2 million in ARRA stimulus grants through the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to help fund the program at the outset.

To create the smart metering network, Honeywell will replace existing utility meters across the city with more than 9,000 electric meters and 12,000 water meters from Elster Integrated Solutions. The new meters will be connected via a Tropos wireless mesh network that builds on the city’s existing broadband service. Every meter will come equipped with a digital register — instead of the traditional rotating dials — as well as wireless technology that allows the meters to send readings to nearly 700 “collector” meters located throughout the city, which will then transmit the data to the utility systems.

The electric meters also feature two-way communication capabilities that will provide the city greater visibility into, and control of, the electrical grid. Instead of simply collecting usage data, for example, utility employees can pinpoint specific houses affected by a power outage or remotely shut off power if a resident is moving. The new meters will also further reduce costs by detecting water leaks or other problems almost immediately.

Tunnel will keep overflow sewage out
Federal clean water laws mandate that the city of Lafayette, IN, reduce the volume of combined rainwater and sewage that reaches the Wabash River. When it’s not raining, sewage flows to the city’s wastewater treatment plant on the south side of town. However, during a significant rainfall, the wastewater treatment system cannot handle the extra volume. As a result, combined rainwater and sewage flow directly into the Wabash.

As part of a 20-year plan to eliminate sewer overflows caused by the city’s combined sewer system, a $19 million underground sewer tunnel – it took two years to complete – went online in April.

The tunnel is meant to eliminate 30 percent of the city’s annual volume of sewage overflows into the Wabash River.

According to Brad Talley, the city’s wastewater superintendent, a separate project to eliminate the Pearl River lift station overflow point is scheduled to begin in 2021.

The project required specialized equipment. President of Triad Engineering Cliff Kassouf, who worked on the tunnel, said the technology has never been used in Lafayette.

“This was specialized because of the type of ground conditions that we had, something that we designed with the manufacture specific to this project,” said Kassouf.

Talley said this is part of a 20-year plan to improve Lafayette’s environmental quality.

“We will start the next project in the next one to two years. It will be a parallel interceptor, basically a parallel sewer that runs along from the fairground location to the wastewater treatment plant,” said Talley.

Improve workflows with civil engineering and stormwater modeling
Bentley Systems Inc. recently announced the integration of its civil engineering design and stormwater modeling and analysis applications to further enhance workflows and facilitate collaboration. The applications include Bentley’s InRoads, GEOPAK, PowerCivil for North America, MXROAD, CivilStorm, StormCAD and PondPack products.

With this integration, civil designers can ensure the accurate location of stormwater infrastructure using geometric and digital terrain data, and generate 3D visualizations and analysis for clash detection and constructability – all from within Bentley civil products. This allows them to assess the feasibility of their designs early in the project design phase. In addition, with the help of comprehensive terrain modeling, catchment delineation, and site modeling tools, they can maximize the return on their investments in engineering data, such as terrain, elevation, and slope information. At the same time, automated drawing production (a by-product of the modeling, design, and analysis process) increases productivity.

Using the scenario management tools in Bentley’s stormwater products, the drainage team can further analyze and easily compare numerous design proposals within the same project file. This enables them to avoid the confusion that can result when multiple files are created for comparison and enhances productivity. The stormwater products also provide the ability to simulate complex networks to calculate overflow volumes, determine pollution in stormwater systems, and model tidal and tail water effects and interconnected ponds.

Three injured in pipeline explosion in Oklahoma
Three pipeline workers were injured, one critically, in late June when a natural gas pipeline owned by Enogex LLC, a subsidiary of Oklahoma Gas and Electric, exploded in Grady County. That is about four miles west of Pocasset, OK, which is about 30 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

The explosion occurred while a crew was bleeding moisture from a 24-inch line. An OG&E spokesperson is reported saying that until the residual gas burns off, they won’t be able to determine what happened.

New OSHA training emphasizes workers’ rights
“Introduction to OSHA,” a new training component emphasizing workers’ rights, is required content in every OSHA 10- and 30-hour Outreach Training Program class. OSHA developed the information in support of the Secretary of Labor’s goal of strengthening the voice of workers.

During the 10- and 30-hour outreach training program classes, OSHA trainers will cover topics on whistleblower rights and filing a complaint, and will provide samples of a weekly fatality and catastrophe report, a material safety sheet and the OSHA Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. Trainers can obtain test and answer sheets from their authorizing training organization.

The OSHA Outreach Training Program is a voluntary program that seeks to teach workers about their rights and how to identify, reduce, avoid and prevent job-related hazards. The program includes courses in construction, general or maritime industry safety and health hazard recognition and prevention that is taught through a network of OSHA-authorized trainers. Over the past three years, nearly two million students have received training through this program. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

Study finds ductile iron pipe, joints outperforms others in earthquakes
In a study of the effects of earthquakes on water and sewer pipe, ductile iron pipe with restrained joints proved superior to other pipe materials, according to a paper by Michael Tucker, senior sales engineer with American Cast Iron Pipe in Tulsa, OK. The paper was published in the May 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Water Works Association.

“Pipelines that deliver clean water and remove wastewater are essential to the well-being of our communities,” said Tucker. “Some utilities may have only one source – one lifeline – into a community. In areas of seismic activity, utilities need to consider how best to protect these lifelines from failure.”

The study reviewed data about pipe failures during modern-day earthquakes, including the following earthquakes in the U.S.: Prince William Sound, AK, 1964; Loma Prieta, CA, 1989; and Northridge (San Fernando Valley), CA, 1994.

“Earthquakes like these have demonstrated time and again the need for high-strength, flexible pipe with flexible joints,” Tucker said. “Whether the pipe and joints are flexible or rigid determines the ability of the pipeline to resist the motion and energy associated with earthquakes.”

The study shows that ductile iron pipe and joints performed the best, sustaining only minimal structural damage. Asbestos-cement pipe had the worse failure rate and plastic pipe was more likely to pull apart at the joints.

“Most mid- to large-size utilities in seismic zones in this country use ductile iron pipe and joints designed for river crossings,” Tucker said. “This application has proven very effective in withstanding the effects of earthquakes. It uses locking joints with 15 degrees deflection.”
Other utilities, in particular small rural utilities, should take a close look at their systems.

“Utilities in seismic zones need to evaluate the lifelines critical to their systems and give these lifelines top priority for retrofitting or replacement to ensure the greatest seismic resistance,” Tucker said.

Researchers calculate the cost of CO2 emissions, call for carbon tax
Rice University’s (Houston) Baker Institute for Public Policy study urges policymakers to support shift from coal to natural gas

Two Rice University researchers are calling on policymakers to encourage the transition from coal-based electricity production to a system based on natural gas through a carbon tax.

Such a mechanism would help limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen last December, the United States pledged to reduce the 2005 levels of CO2 emissions by 17 percent by 2020.

Dagobert Brito, the George A. Peterkin Professor of Political Economy, and Robert Curl, the Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor Emeritus of Natural Sciences and winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry, made this recommendation in a paper published by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. A PDF of the paper can be viewed at www.bakerinstitute.org/publications/BI-pub-BritoCurlCO2ElecEcon-070210.pdf/view.

Brito and Curl argue that there are three important unresolved questions in the current debate on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions: “First, what is the range of prices on carbon dioxide emissions that will be necessary to achieve the desired reductions? Second, should electrical generators and transport fuels be regulated jointly or separately? Third, should the restrictions be in the form of a quantity limit such as cap and trade or in the form of a carbon tax?”

The authors calculated the cost of CO2 emissions by modeling the transition from coal-based electricity generation to a system based on natural gas. Because coal-based electricity generation accounts for about a third of U.S. CO2 emissions (some 2 billion metric tons), Brito and Curl describe it as “the 900-pound gorilla in the room.” Replacing coal generators with natural gas, they believe, “is the most economical way to achieve a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent.”

The United States is already moving from coal-based electricity production to a system based on natural gas. The authors said policymakers should encourage this transition, but they doubt whether natural gas supplies will be adequate to maintain this shift in the end. Development of nuclear and renewable electricity generation will need to continue at a rapid pace. Natural gas, however, can be the transition technology to carbon-neutral electrical generation. “Unless or until there is a technological breakthrough in carbon sequestration,” Brito and Curl wrote, “the carbon intensity of coal means that ‘clean coal’ cannot be an important factor in reducing carbon dioxide. Replacing existing coal generation capacity with modern coal generation plants can only reduce total carbon dioxide by 5 percent.”

Price Gregory awarded natural gas pipe contract
Price Gregory International Inc. has been awarded a contract by Bison Pipeline LLC for installing approximately 101 miles of 30-inch natural gas pipeline in Carter and Fallon Counties, MT, and Bowman County, ND. Headquarters is in Miles City, MT. The company also will install nearly 107 miles of 30-inch natural gas pipeline in Bowman, Slope, Hettinger, Stark, Grand and Morton Counties, ND. Headquarters is in Dickinson, ND. The starting dates for both pipelines is unkown.

In Memoriam
Bill L. Harbert, 1979 past president of the Pipe Line Contractors Association, passed away at age 86 on June 27. After serving in WWII, Harbert earned a civil engineering degree from Auburn University in 1948. In 1966, he attended Harvard Graduate School of Business, Advanced Management Program. He participated in the formation of Harbert Construction Corporation in 1949, serving as executive vice president until 1979. Harbet then became president and chief operating officer of Harbert International Inc. from 1979-1990. His daughters Anne and Elizabeth; a son, Billy; and six grandchildren survive Harbert.

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