A Unified Power Flow Controller (UPFC) was recently installed at American Electric Power's (AEP) Inez Station in eastern Kentucky.

The UPFC, an advanced solid-state transmission system control technology, was developed by AEP, Siemens Westinghouse and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The team began work on the project in 1995.

Electric controllers such as the UPFC offer a cost-effective way to increase the amount of power that can be transferred. According to Bruce Renz, AEP vice president, this is the first time that transmission operators will be able to instantaneously and continuously control the flow of alternating current power on their grids.

KEMA Expands Short-Circuit Laboratory KEMA of Arnhem in the Netherlands operates the world's largest and best-known short-circuit laboratory. Its test facilities are in constant use for manufacturers from all parts of the globe.

The present KEMA laboratories are specially equipped for high-voltage testing.

"They are really too big to be used for medium-voltage tests. Such tests are increasingly slowing down our growth in high-voltage testing," said Gerard Hoekema, KEMA's project leader for construction of the new lab. "If we build a new lab for medium-voltage testing, we can use the full capacity of the two existing labs for high-voltage tests."

Also, two smaller test halls will be added to the laboratory, where manufacturers can prepare their materials for testing.

The application for the building permit has been filed; construction began this July. The new short-circuit lab is expected to be ready for commissioning in July 1999.

Partnering to Design Energy-Efficient Housing Manufactured homes will soon appear in Washington, D.C. thanks to a project sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Potomac Electric Power Co. (PEPCO) and the Manufacturing Housing Institute (MHI).

Housing construction in urban areas, particularly the District of Columbia, is expensive, but until now the look of economical manufactured housing units has kept them out of the market. MHI sponsorship of new designs for the urban market provided EPRI an opportunity to demonstrate energy efficient technologies, which will add to the homes' performance and value.

EPRI approached PEPCO about participating in the demonstration project. "Our interest was immediate," said Gwen Hawkins, manager, Community Development Department. "Homes like the single-story model and a two-story model will give families the opportunity to purchase affordable housing and will also serve as a springboard in helping revitalize an urban area of the District, which is a plus for our community."

The two different sizes and styles will show how manufactured home designs can fit within existing urban neighborhoods. The homes are priced from US$105,000 to US$125,000.

The homes feature high efficiency E-glass windows to minimize the effect of the sun's rays and a number of energy efficient appliances. The innovative Insider heat pump, developed by EPRI and manufactured by Consolidated Technologies, Inc., provides heating and cooling from a single self-contained unit. Maytag's Neptune, the new extra-energy efficient horizontal-axis (H-axis) front loading clothes washer, uses less water and saves energy required for drying by removing more moisture from clothes. Energy usage will be monitored for a full year.

Tackling the Y2K Bug Several companies signed an agreement in July to team together to deal with the Year 2000 computer problems South Africa, along with all other countries, may be facing soon.

TAVA/R.W. Beck llc signed a teaming agreement with Y2K Africa. Y2K Africa is a joint venture of Kutlwano Engineering Consulting (a Black Empowerment company based in South Africa) and Technology Service International, a subsidiary of Eskom, the state utility of South Africa.

TAVA/R.W. Beck already provides "Utility Y2KT"products and services to several utilities in the United States. In South Africa, the company will provide mitigation and remediation services for millenium problems to utilities and municipalities including electric, gas, water and wastewater in South Africa and throughout Africa.

Pole Erector Designed in Ireland The ROCO Pole Erector was invented in Ireland about 15 years ago when Thomas Roche, then an engineer and in the land reclamation business, saw the Electricity Supply Board in Ireland setting poles manually. He then designed the ROCO Pole Erector to prepare, backfill and pack the hole; pickup, plant and carry the pole; and maintain and repair live lines. The Electricity Supply Board has been using it ever since.

The ROCO has also been used by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) in rough terrain. PG&E has about 10 units in the field and two in its backhoe training schools. Before it adapted Roche's invention, PG&E was renting helicopters to set poles at a cost of up to US$1000 an hour. The pole erector can be attached on John Deere 310/410 and Case 580 models.