I'm a title. Click here to edit me.
DoD Public Safety Communications (PSC) Solution
DoD Public Safety Communications (PSC) Solution leveraging the DoD-High Microsoft 365 Government Community Cloud (GCC). Partner description: ACES is a business productivity and solutions innovation company focused on helping government organizations leverage the Microsoft 365 GCC to streamline and automate government operations. As a Microsoft Charter Partner, we specialize in the areas of Content Services, Process Automation, Data Analytics, and Training. Industry: Federal Government / Defense. Products/Solutions: Use this space to list which Microsoft products were used in the solution you provided. Microsoft 365 Office 365 SharePoint Online Microsoft Teams Advanced Data Governance Solution Summary The DoD has a Public Safety Access Point at each DoD facility that must be constantly manned with equipment that fully complies with Federal Government Public Safety Communications (PSC) regulations. The DoD CIO is responsible for ensuring the network and IT equipment in each PSAP complies with all PSC requirements. This ensures interoperability with all other National and Civilian Public Safety Communications services. The DoD CIO must have an accurate understanding of the hardware and software needs in all DoD PSAP facilities to effectively manage this broad, diverse, and critical emergency communications network. Until recently, there has been no way for DoD CIO to effectively track all the equipment and requirements for the thousands of organizations that are required to operate a PSAP. ACES created a SharePoint solution to track information for all DoD PSAPs that has enabled DoD CIO to ensure timely upgrades to PSAPs while enhancing collaboration across the PSC community. Challenge The DoD managed PSAPs are distributed across thousands of military bases and locations throughout the world, with a wide variety of power, equipment, and local regulatory requirements that would simply be too hard to manage centrally. To achieve this, we allocate funds for equipment and infrastructure at these locations, enabling local procurement of equipment that integrates into the local networks. Another important responsibility of the DoD CIO is to ensure all PSAPs have the necessary resources and guidance to guarantee the interoperability of PSAP with all other PSC community networks and services. Due to large variations across so many globally distributed locations, keeping track of the status of equipment to ensure compliance has historically been accomplished via site visits and inspections. As the rate of upgrades and the importance of modernization efforts have increased, modernizing all sites to a globally connected, standards-driven environment requires a better approach to expedite results, especially given the massive travel restrictions due to COVID. DoD requested ACES explore a technology-based solution to this problem. ACES analyzed the situation and discovered the PSC community has operated in an isolated and disconnected way since inception as their priority requirement was to ensure integration with local 911 responders. They developed close working relationships with local and regional organizations but had no need to collaborate on a broader scale. In addition, a wide variety of equipment was being used based on local vendor supply chains. The problem of modernizing the PSAPs was not just a major technological challenge but a deeply cultural one as well. Solution Strategy The ACES strategy was to start by using technology to connect personnel in PSAPs in a way that provided them with tangible benefits. Once they began to see themselves as part of a global community vs. a local service it would be easier for them to realize the need for standardization and modernization of equipment and processes. ACES used Microsoft Teams as the initial technology to start bringing personnel in the PSAPs together. The meetings were scheduled on a regular basis by DoD CIO to provide updates to the PSC community on changes coming while giving the PSAP personnel a direct voice to those at the top of the PSC chain of command in DoD. This strengthened meeting attendance and caused PSAPs no one was aware existed to surface in order to be part of the meetings. The simplicity of connecting in Teams along with the rich voice and video communication was a huge help in building confidence across the community that the new Microsoft 365 environment was an impressive and capable technology. After several meetings with no technical glitches the community began to get so comfortable with Teams, the members who were still dialing in over phone began to get chastised by other members who were joining over their computers and using VoIP. People often commented how surprised they were that Teams was able to work so well over DoD Networks, which historically crippled video conferencing solutions to the point they were unusable. Next, we developed a contacts list of all the PSC and PSAP personnel to include their organization, job title, associated PSAP, and all the standard contact information. They could add things about their areas of expertise so if someone had a question related to that area they could quickly find someone who could help. We then created a list to track the equipment at each PSAP and enabled the personnel to fill in information about the equipment at their locations. We used a Lookup column to link the personnel in the PSC contacts list with each PSAP location. As the PSC community continued to meet, they had several heated discussions with senior leaders in DoD CIO as they got more comfortable expressing their ideas and sometimes strong disagreement with directions being given by DoD CIO. The heated exchanges almost always ended up with a better understanding of the problem by both sides and ultimately a more effective approach in unifying the community and modernizing their emergency services. Gradually, the PSC community grew strong internal relationships and began to form its own tribe that transcended the technolgy.When it came time to task the PSAPs to enter and maintain the data needed to understand their equipment and software status relative to modernization requirements, they had all been involved in establishing the proper data fields right down to the choices in the choice fields and descriptions that explained any business rules or considerations to be made when filling out each field. Filling out the data, keeping it accurate, driving toward a globally integrated network that used standard equipment and technology had everyone’s buy-in and support without asking.The power of the Microsoft 365 Cloud fundamentally enabled the emergency response hotline community in the DoD to transition from locally bonded groups to a unified global tribe that is able to work together using Microsoft 365 almost as well as if they all lived in the same small town. Results The unification of the strongly divided and regionalized PSC community enabled PSC modernization efforts to achieve the local support needed for success. Ultimately, modernization of PSAP equipment will lead to dramatically improved response capabilities and significantly reduced cost and maintenace due to standardization and homogenity of equipment. This facilitiates upgrades, replacement costs, and simplifies maintenance. Additionally, the ability of PSAPs with certain types of equipment to find other PSAPs using the same type of equipment were able to connect and learn from each other. In many cases, long-standing problems that local technicians were unable to resolve had been solved at another location. For the first time in the history of the PSC community, PSAP personnel were able to reach out to other similarly situated sites and either benefit from their innovative solutions or pool resources to solve a shared challenge. The PSC community and DoD have derived significant value from this solution thanks to the stable and performance capabilities in the Microsoft 365 stack. Customer Quote "I wanted to share my thoughts on your performance over the past year. Under your direct leadership, the innovation you and your team have brought to bear in C3I has been transformational. Your team has turned technology into a force multiplier for C3I when we needed to interface with our PSC, SATCOM and TCMP community. The C3I SharePoint portal, database solutions, and your Teams ability to get results in the Microsoft 365 environment have exceeded expectations and are a bright light on the SharePoint scene in CIO." - GS-15 Government Lead Tactical Communications, C3 Infrastructure C3, DoD CIO
DSCA Data and Knowledge Management Support
Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) Data and Knowledge Management Support. Partner description: ACES is a business productivity and solutions innovation company focused on helping government organizations leverage the Microsoft 365 GCC and DoD's Microsoft 365 enterprise environment (DoD365) to streamline and automate government operations. As a Microsoft Partner, we specialize in the areas of Content Services, Process Automation, Data Analytics, and Training. Industry: Federal Government / Defense. Products/Solutions: Technology used: Microsoft 365 SharePoint Online Microsoft Teams Microsoft Teams Power Automate Custom SharePoint Framework (SPFx) Power BI Power Apps Solution Summary ACES successfully implemented a suite of solutions for DSCA within the DoD365 environment to strengthen their business processes, streamline operations, and enable data-driven decision-making for their senior leaders. The project encompassed an extensive discovery phase, a detailed assessment of technical and business requirements, and the formulation of a comprehensive strategy for deploying solutions. ACES provided centralized content repositories, automated business processes, global metadata structures, and robust business intelligence capabilities. This empowered DSCA to enhance transparency, efficiency, and overall operational effectiveness. Challenge DSCA, a pivotal foreign military sales (FMS) organization, engages with foreign leaders to fulfill their multifaceted military requirements, spanning from advanced equipment to cutting-edge technology. Before implementing ACES' solution, DSCA grappled with a series of significant challenges. DSCA's business operations were heavily reliant on email and Excel for tracking and reporting. This manual approach was excessively time-consuming and resulted in manual workflows that were too inefficient and error prone. Their manual approach hindered effective collaboration and limited their ability to keep up with mission demands. DSCA struggled with dispersed data and content, making it difficult to manage, access, and retrieve critical information. The absence of centralized content repositories and metadata structures meant that data silos hindered their ability to effectively store and locate essential documents and records. The organization lacked robust business intelligence tools, hindering its capacity to make data-driven decisions. The absence of integrated data analytics solutions left DSCA without the insights needed to optimize operations, allocate resources efficiently, and meet mission objectives. The Director's travel schedule was characterized by unpredictability, necessitating real-time coordination to manage last-minute changes, spontaneous meetings with foreign leaders, and rapid decision-making. The process of trip preparation, entailing the creation of detailed trip packages, was arduous and time-consuming. Manual methods compounded the challenges, calling for streamlined approaches. Solution Strategy ACES collaborated with DSCA to design a comprehensive solution that directly addressed the organization's needs. Leveraging Microsoft 365 technologies, our solution encompassed a broad spectrum of tools and processes. We identified the need to centralize DSCA's data to enhance data management and accessibility. To achieve this, we leveraged Microsoft SharePoint to establish authoritative content repositories. By deploying common metadata and SharePoint search functionalities, we streamlined DSCA's ability to categorize, organize, and swiftly retrieve critical information. This approach efficiently dismantled data silos and offered a unified platform for content management. The dependency on email and Excel for business processes proved to be a significant obstacle for DSCA. In response, ACES seamlessly integrated Power Apps and Power Automate to design automated and streamlined business processes. This transformation reduced reliance on manual tracking, management, approval, and reporting via email and Excel. Power Apps introduced user-friendly, context-driven pre-populated forms, ensuring users input the right data for each process. This innovation not only streamlined DSCA's operations but also minimized data entry. ACES solution provided DSCA with real-time situational awareness of the DSCA director's travel and location, enabling swift decision-making and the exploitation of unanticipated opportunities during travel. Trip preparation, a historically complex process, was streamlined using automated templates and workflows. This resulted in a significant reduction in the time and effort required for trip planning, affording the director the ability to focus on mission-critical aspects of travel. The solutions facilitated real-time coauthoring of documents, including meeting briefings, eliminating the need for handwritten alterations on printed documents. Robust version control ensured document accuracy during updates. The complex task of managing meeting requests, schedules, and room bookings underwent automation. This simplified the process for both DSCA staff and senior leaders, ensuring efficient scheduling and location allocation. A centralized repository captured and stored all information related to meetings, topics, and interactions with foreign representatives. This afforded easy access and retrieval of historical data for informed decision-making. ACES introduced Power BI to provide DSCA more advanced business intelligence capabilities. This robust data analytics tool was used to seamlessly integrated into DSCA's decsion making process to provide valuable insights. Results The implementation of our solution delivered a host of benefits to DSCA, effectively transforming their operations and addressing their challenges. Streamlined business processes, real-time decision-making, and automated trip preparation significantly bolstered operational efficiency and productivity. The solutions advanced record-keeping of decision points, enhanced transparency within the organization and reduced data entry, consequently fostering trust among stakeholders. Integration with Power BI and accessible data structures empowered DSCA's leadership to make informed, data-driven decisions, in alignment with their goals and mission. Our solution enabled the early delivery of critical services, including real-time itinerary adjustments, preserving valuable time and resources. Arguably, the most significant achievement was the early delivery of the Full Operational Capability (FOC) application. Our efficient execution ensured that DSCA received a fully functional software solution two months ahead of the initially planned schedule. This remarkable accomplishment translated to the entire project being delivered a staggering two years ahead of the original estimate. DSCA not only met but exceeded its transformation goals well ahead of schedule, preserving valuable time and resources.
DoD Command, Control & Communications (C3) Data Model
DoD Command, Control & Communications (C3) Data Model leveraging the DoD-High Microsoft 365 Government Community Cloud (GCC). Partner description: ACES is a business productivity and solutions innovation company focused on helping government organizations leverage the Microsoft 365 GCC to streamline and automate government operations. As a Microsoft Charter Partner, we specialize in the areas of Content Services, Process Automation, Data Analytics, and Training. Industry: Federal Government / Defense. Products/Solutions: Use this space to list which Microsoft products were used in the solution you provided. Microsoft 365 Office 365 SharePoint Online Microsoft Teams Advanced Data Governance Solution Summary There has been no centralized data repository for DoD organizations to report and maintain information related to Tactical Communications equipment and modernization efforts. The DoD CIO is responsible for ensuring interoperability throughout various upgrades and modernization efforts. The numerous non-standard data repositories have existed in the form of Excel Spreadsheets with an occasional SharePoint list or database. Due to high turnover, evolving mission requirements, and organizational changes, maintaining these repositories has been difficult and integrating them unreasonably complicated. The Microsoft 365 GCC has finally provided a DoD-wide accessible platform with the necessary tools to solve this long-standing problem. The ACES C3 Data Repository solution uses SharePoint Online and Power BI to provide organizations an unprecedented ability to access and maintain their C3 mission data for planning, analysis and reporting. The relational data model uses SharePoint lists with Lookups to relate the data. Data in the model can be combined with financial data, for example, to explore C3 financial characteristics. Challenge DoD Headquarters Organizations have been left to their own to manage their C3 equipment inventories and modernization efforts. As DoD has transformed into a highly integrated Joint Warfighting Organization with strong dependencies on Mission Partner interoperability the need to understand the status of C3 equipment within each unit has significantly grown. Before war planners can task units they must understand if the units all have compatible radios able to access to the necessary networks with the latest crypto updates. As the rate of hardware and software upgrades continues to increase, it has become too hard for planners to continue making phone calls to each unit to get a status on their equipment and capabilities. Additionally, HQ organizations required to oversee status of upgrades and ensure interoperability throughout modernization efforts have not been able to keep up given the rapid software-defined-radio change cycles. Trying to find, analyze, track, manage, and report C3 information to all the right people in such a large organization as DoD with so much change happening so fast in the C3 space requires an easy to access and maintain centralized data repository. Until recently, Excel Spreadsheets, siloed SharePoint Lists, and a few disconnected databases have been used for tracking this information in a wide variety of non-standard ways with no common data architecture. Architecting a common data model in a capable, enterprise-wide technology for DoD C3 data has been an extremely complex, difficult, and long-standing challenge. Solution Strategy The use of so many different places, processes, and products to track C3 data in DoD was a big problem that was being felt at every level in the department. There was little disagreement on the need to organize and centralize the data but who would lead the effort and where would the repository reside? The DoD CIO C3I government leadership looked to ACES Group to provide the thought leadership required in designing and developing the data model and data repository based on a long track record of success in building similar DoD-wide solutions. Although a variety of technology stacks were under consideration in DoD, ACES recommended the Microsoft 365 DoD GCC High environment since it had the full suite of integrated capabilities needed to develop and maintain the data model as well as visualize the data in reports and dashboards using Power BI. ACES Group developed a drillable dashboard demo using Power BI. The dashboard rolled up data from a variety of sources and applied the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Query (NLQ) capabilities in Power BI as part of the demo. The DoD CIO leadership were so impressed with the capabilities they asked for the demo to be provided to the CIOs for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Although the Service CIOs were impressed with the capabilities of Power BI, they had already directed their organizations to use the Advanced Analytics (ADVANA) platform developed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense Comptroller since the vision of the Comptroller was for this platform to become the enterprise analytics platform for all DoD information and data. They also wanted us to store our data on their ADVANA platform. We showed how easy it would be for people to enter and update their data in SharePoint and how difficult it would be for users to access and update the data in the government’s ADVANA platform. The decision was made to use SharePoint to create, manage, and update the data and use the ADVANA platform to visualize the data in QlikSense dashboards and reports. Results The C3 Data Model has enabled the DoD CIO to track progress for modernization efforts and manage updates to C3 equipment and networks across DoD. It has also provided transparency to other services and combatant commands regarding the status of upgrades within their own organizations as well as other organizations of interest throughout DoD. Furthermore, this capability has enabled the identification of several issues related to funding, timing of upgrades, and interoperability that would have been undetectable without this solution. Mission Planners are expected to get significant value from this as well by using it to quickly determine which operational units have complete necessary C3 upgrades and are able to be combined into a Joint Force or Coalition Warfighting package as required to support military operations. Although an exact dollar figure is hard to quantify, one Air Force Tactical Radio Subject Matter Expert expressed this solution will easily save him 10 hours a week that he would normally have to spend digging up C3 information for reporting and analysis. He also estimated it will do the same or more for hundreds of others across the department and give the DoD and decision advantage in the C3I space far beyond anything it has experienced in the past. Customer Quote “ Your team has turned technology into a force multiplier for C3I when we needed to interface with our PSC, SATCOM and TCMP community. The C3I SharePoint portal, database solutions, and your Teams ability to get results in the Microsoft 365 environment have exceeded expectations and are a bright light on the SharePoint scene in CIO. ” - Government Lead Tactical Communications, C3 Infrastructure DoD CIO
Tesla ‘big battery’ fire fuels concerns over lithium risks
Latest incident comes as utilities around the world increasingly rely on lithium-ion to store renewable energy Fire crews cannot use traditional techniques to extinguish fires started by lithium-ion batteries, such as that which burnt for three days in Australia © Fire Rescue Victoria/AFP via Get Batteries updates A fire at one of the largest Tesla battery installations in the world has drawn fresh attention to the risks of batteries used to store renewable energy for electricity grids. It took three days for the blaze to be extinguished after it started during testing in a shipping container holding a 13 tonne lithium-ion battery, at Moorabool near Geelong in Australia, and spread to a second battery pack. The “Victorian Big Battery” project using the Tesla Megapack is the largest in the country, with 210 packs capable of storing up to 450 megawatt-hours of energy for the electricity grid. Owned and operated by the French renewable energy developer Neoen, it was scheduled to begin operating before the peak summer demand period this year. Neoen said it was too soon to tell how the commission would be affected and testing would resume only once safety conditions were met. The incident comes as utilities around the world from Australia to California increasingly rely on large lithium-ion batteries to store renewable energy from the wind and the sun. The same type of batteries as those used in electric cars, they can deliver power quickly to the electricity grid. The amount of energy storage deployed last year rose 62 per cent, according to consultancy Wood Mackenzie, and the market is set to grow 27-fold by the end of the decade. Yet there have been a total of 38 large lithium-ion battery fires since 2018, according to Paul Christensen, a professor at Newcastle University. In Beijing, a fire at a lithium-ion battery installation in April killed two firefighters and took 235 firefighters to control. Last September, a large lithium-ion battery in Liverpool, owned by Danish renewable energy company Orsted, caught fire in the middle of the night. Lithium-ion batteries can catch fire after a process called “thermal runaway”, which results when a battery is overcharged or crushed. Heat as well as a mixture of gases are produced, which when released form a vapour cloud that can ignite or cause an explosion. In 2019 in Arizona, a grid-scale lithium battery fire threw a firefighter more than 20 metres from the container door, leaving him with a brain injury and broken ribs. That fire started after a short circuit in one lithium-ion battery cell, according to a report released after the incident. Because of the release of gases “we don’t have a definitive answer of what is the best way to deal with an EV [electric vehicle] fire or energy storage fire,” Christensen said. “They [lithium-ion batteries] are essential to the decarbonisation of this planet but their penetration into society has far outstripped our actual knowledge of the risks and hazards associated with them,” he said. The risks will only increase as individual households increasingly install lithium-ion batteries to store energy from solar panels, or to reduce reliance on electricity grids following a spate of extreme weather events, he said. In Australia, fire crews wore breathing apparatus and hazmat suits as they attempted to contain the flames, Fire Rescue Victoria said. Drones were also deployed. Matt Deadman, lead officer for alternative fuels and energy systems at the National Fire Chiefs Council in the UK, said lithium-ion battery fires burn for much longer than usual fires and water only reduces their spread. “It’s about cooling the batteries and you can extinguish the flame but lithium-ion batteries will produce their own oxygen as they break down — they will keep catching fire again, we just take as much as heat as we can out of them,” he said. “At the moment we rely on tried and tested firefighting methods using water which is effective but it’s not a golden bullet for solving these things as quickly as you possibly can,” Deadman said. Tesla said last month revenues from its energy storage and generation business, which includes sales of its Megapack batteries, more than doubled in the latest quarter to $801m. Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, said safer variants of lithium-ion technology such as lithium-iron phosphate batteries — which use iron and phosphate instead of the metals nickel and cobalt — are suitable for its large battery installations. Gavin Harper, a research fellow at the University of Birmingham, said: “It is essential that we don’t stifle new innovation as it is imperative that we decarbonise rapidly, but at the same time, we need to take a precautionary approach as we deploy new technologies at scale.”
SuperCaps vs Tesla PW
Calculating the Calif Battery Rebate - SuperCaps vs Tesla PW One of the most important competitive advantages is in Cycle Life.
Forget about the fact that 13.2kWh nameplate capacity isn’t a reality if you intend to do daily TOU Arbitrage with your Powerwall. They won’t last two years at 100% DoD daily cycling. The real usable energy from a Powerwall is closer to 10.6kWh, or 80% DoD to maintain warranted cycle life. For the purposes of SGIP they can claim 13.2kWh of capacity but, it doesn’t work in the real world.
So, back to the warranty. Supercap's is 10 years unlimited. Tesla has a 37MWh roundtrip (18.5MWh discharge) warranty. If you cycle daily (10.6kWh) that’s 3,869kWh/year. In 4.78 years you’d finish the warranty, not 10 years. They count on the fact that the majority of people don’t do TOU arbitrage and their batteries are UPS backup only.
Now, say you make a warranty claim and Tesla actually honors it after looking at your usage data. They require the ability to collect data from your system. If you cannot connect the Powerwalls to the web, the warranty is 4 years. But even if they pay you the warranty it’s 1) prorated like on your tires, 2) you need to pay to ship the old Powerwall back, 3) pay to ship the new one in and 4) pay for the removal/install labor.
No one is going to cycle their Powerwall daily. They’re good for UPS only. If the residence installs a grid-tied smart inverter that is “battery ready”, then any of the 48VDC supercaps can be used in parallel for backup and provide the same capability as Tesla for a lower installed cost. So, if a developer uses Sol-Ark, Schneider Electric, Outback, Magnum or one of many grid-tied smart inverters, the Powerwall is not an economic addition. New construction is certainly an easier path to supercap adoption, but there are a lot of “upgrade” opportunities out there.
Let’s discuss safety. The terminals can either have boots over the connections or a cleaner look, a sheet of plexiglass screwed to the front of the rack covering the entire stack of modules. These are insignificant cost and easy install solutions.
Useable energy, regardless of what Tesla marketing says, is 80% of the Powerwall. Look to their cars for guidance, the batteries are the same as in the Powerwall. Jeff Dahn, renowned Li Ion battery expert recommends, don’t keep your Tesla at 100% charge. Why? Because it kills Lithium batteries to do so. He recommends 70% and a DoD no lower than 20%, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt at 80% useable. Tesla battery expert recommends daily charging limit to optimize durability - Electrek
As mentioned before their warranty if these things are cycled daily ends in less than 5 years. They degrade 30% over the life of the warranty. They’re a known fire hazard. They have hazardous waste disposal issues. They have temperature, charging, and discharging limits that all reduce life cycles. Once again, look at real-world results from the Tesla cars.
Car And Driver's Tesla Model 3 Has Lost 7% Of Its Battery Capacity In 24,000 Miles | Carscoops
So three 3.55 supercaps provide the same useable capacity as one Powerwall. The installed cost of a Powerwall is $12k – 13.5k depending on the installer… if you can get one (wait time is nearly a year now). In a battery ready new home, three supercaps would cost $9052 ($850/kWh MSRP). Add a bit for installation so, let's say installed cost of $10k. What you get for $10k on a grid-tied smart inverter is 25-year life, 10-year unconditional warranty, and none of the bad stuff that goes with Lithium batteries from killing miners to fires and hazardous waste disposal. If homeowners want daily cycling against TOU rates and want to feel like they are contributing to the environment, Supercaps are the superior solution. Powerwalls do not provide an economic TOU Arbitrage value and they have no claim of being environmentally sound.
In California, Hawaii, and elsewhere there are hundreds of thousands of “legacy” solar systems with no ability to provide UPS backup. California alone has over a million legacy systems, Hawaii 80,000, AZ, a couple hundred thousand, and so on… The Powerwall has an integrated, albeit small 5kW, inverter when coupled with an auto-disconnect switch, can add UPS to these systems. The Tesla killer needs to have an integrated inverter.
Con Edison Tests ConnectDER as a Utility Touchpoint for Distributed Energy
Can a meter socket plug-in device bridge the rooftop solar (and battery, and EV charger) gap between utilities and customers? Last week, New York utility Con Edison launched its latest effort to smooth the way for customers to install rooftop solar — and to feed the utility's growing hunger for data on how that solar can be integrated into its grid. The tool it’s using, built by Arlington, Virginia-based company ConnectDER, is a meter collar adapter that plugs into the socket where electrical meters connect to buildings. In its simplest applications, it can provide the data collection and computing power of a typical smart meter, serving as a cellular-connected point solution to connect particular customers to utilities that haven’t yet deployed advanced metering infrastructure across their territories. But ConnectDER’s devices can also serve as a connection point for rooftop solar systems, allowing installers to avoid costly circuit-breaker panel upgrades and time-consuming wiring work. A 300-unit pilot installation launched in 2017 achieved savings of between $400 and $1,500 per installation, making the $400 upfront cost of the device well worth it for customers, according to James Skillman, Con Edison customer project manager. The next 2,400 units Con Edison will be installing over the next year and a half will continue those savings, he said. But they’ll also start delivering valuable data as part of a pilot project with the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) — precise, real-time measurements of solar generation on distribution circuits that may face disruptions from the utility’s growing share of customer-owned solar. “We have more than 35,000 customers connected with solar, and those with the ConnectDER products are the only ones we know exactly what they’re doing,” he said. Con Edison is in the final stages of deploying smart meters to its approximately 1.3 million customers, but those only measure net household loads, not what’s happening behind the meter. The idea of utility-owned technology serving as a control point for customer-owned distributed energy resources (DERs) may well spark suspicion from residential solar and storage providers, which are used to battling with utilities over net metering tariffs, interconnection policies and other aspects of how their systems interact with the power grids they’re connected to. But being able to differentiate solar production from net load will help Con Edison in planning future grid investments to manage the potential voltage disruptions and two-way power flows that could arise as distributed solar rises as a proportion of its overall electricity supply, Skillman said. That could prove beneficial for the solar industry as well if it leads to easing interconnection limits to adding more solar. Another pilot project underway with NYSERDA will explore integrating ConnectDER’s solar data into its smart meter wireless mesh network, which could supply data to inform real-time distribution grid operations. And the same benefits could apply to monitoring the behind-the-meter batteries, electric vehicle chargers and other DERs that are set to expand dramatically under New York state’s aggressive decarbonization mandates. “Using it to install a battery or EV charger is great because that power exits the connector before it hits the customer's internal breaker panel,” said Skillman. “All that power will be measured by the connector itself, and it allows you to do some interesting things,” from crafting rate programs and incentives for batteries and EV chargers to tracking how they can serve to reduce or replace grid investments. "That's where we really get excited from a distribution-engineering standpoint." A growing need for utility-customer distributed energy connection As more and more solar installations seek to interconnect to the grid, finding ways to share data with utilities — or even offer them some control over how they operate — could end up helping DERs grow to scale, ConnectDER CEO Whit Fulton said in an interview. ConnectDER isn’t the only way for utilities to get visibility into behind-the-meter DERs. Energy disaggregation technologies can analyze power flows to estimate major loads. The latest versions of smart electrical panels or home energy management systems being built by industry heavyweights like Schneider Electric and Eaton and startups such as Span and Lumin can provide actual circuit-level data and control. New solar and battery inverters can also communicate vital operational data via standard protocols, a capability that’s been tapped by utilities in pilot projects across the country. And companies including Tesla , Sunrun , sonnen , Generac and Swell are aggregating solar- and battery-equipped homes to provide grid services as virtual power plants . But utilities aren’t in charge of these devices and can’t guarantee access to their data, Fulton noted. Even when vendors are making their data available, “it’s forcing a lot of complexity on the utility to interface with the DER market in a comprehensive way.” “At the same time, utilities are under pressure from regulators and from legislatures” in states such as New York that have set goals for tapping the value of customer-owned DERs, he said. “We’re allowing a utility to offer faster, better, more secure options for connecting to the utility.” In fact, ConnectDER’s meter socket devices are already in use by a utility behind one of the country’s first and largest virtual power plant projects, he said. ConnectDER devices are in use by Vermont utility Green Mountain Power to ease interconnection challenges for solar and battery installations. GMP offers customers upfront payments or monthly lease plans for utility-owned or third-party-supplied batteries, plus EV chargers and smart thermostats and water heaters, in exchange for making them available for grid needs. Likewise, utility Arizona Public Service has used ConnectDER to link customers’ solar inverters to utility communications networks as part of its wide-ranging distributed energy integration programs, and Hawaiian Electric has made them available to customers to manage the tariffs that have replaced solar net metering. To be sure, solar installers are leery of utilities being able to take control of customer solar systems. But there could be upsides to solar industry growth to allowing it, Fulton said. Specifically, he pointed to a pilot project underway at Pennsylvania utility PPL Electric, where ConnectDER’s meter collars are being used to run head-to-head tests of how automated smart inverter settings compare to active utility control of rooftop solar systems for managing grid disruptions. While solar installers have largely resisted utility proposals to control solar systems, it’s possible that reducing their output during certain moments of the day could actually increase the hosting capacity of solar-saturated circuits, allowing more solar to be installed. “We’re really excited about that one,” he said. “It’s going to be a transparent auditing of the value of direct utility control versus autonomous or independent settings."
Beyond Declining Battery Prices: 6 Ways to Evaluate Energy Storage in 2021
Balance of systems, software, supply chain constraints, and reliability and performance guarantees all weigh on total costs. The energy storage market in the United States is booming, with 476 megawatts of new projects installed in the third quarter of 2020 alone, up 240 percent over the second quarter, according to industry analysts at Wood Mackenzie . 2021 is expected to be another record-breaking year for storage, but with technological innovation accelerating across the market, renewable energy asset owners need to carefully select safe and reliable systems to protect their storage investments. As the market accelerates, these are a few of the essential questions asset owners should be asking. 1. Evaluate pricing beyond the cell When analysts speak about declines in storage pricing, they are referring to battery pricing, which continues to decline every year. Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s latest report states that current lithium-ion pricing stands at about $137 per kilowatt-hour and will drop as low as $100 per kWh by 2023. However, purchasers of energy storage systems may see substantially higher prices for their projects, depending on a range of factors. For example, the lowest pricing for lithium-ion batteries is generally available for either a major supply contract or for very large-scale deployments of 500 megawatt-hours and above. Since most projects today are not that large, that $137 per kWh figure will be closer to $150 to $170 per kWh, and perhaps as high as $200 to $210 per kWh on the battery-pack level, depending on the size of the project. Beyond battery pricing, the total cost of a fully integrated battery energy storage system will also include the thermal management system, battery management systems, and power conversion system, as well as fire prevention and suppression technology, SCADA and metering. When considering all-in pricing, many storage companies are building their systems in standardized, modular containers that are quicker and easier to install and connect to the grid. While this kind of system may simplify the evaluation process, these business models may include ancillary services, such as operations and maintenance contracts, performance guarantees and liquidated damages. In short, based on price alone, conducting an apples-to-apples evaluation of storage systems from different suppliers is challenging, if not impossible. 2. Evaluate the chemistry and safety Procurement and pricing evaluation also need to consider the variable of battery chemistry. In 2021, the two leading choices are lithium nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) and lithium ferro (iron) phosphate (LFP). NMC has a higher energy density — energy stored in proportion to weight — which also increases the risk for overheating and thermal runaway when overheating, which can lead to fire quickly spreading from one battery cell to another. NMC is also more expensive and at present only available from a limited number of suppliers. Based on its chemistry alone, readily available LFP is expected to replace NMC in the next few years as the less expensive and safer of the two battery chemistries. LFP is safer because it has a lower energy density and discharges at a steady, sustained rate. In general, LFP chemistries will also last longer than NMC, even at higher rates of charge and discharge, reducing the frequency for replacement and augmentation during the lifetime of a project. However, because LFP cells have lower energy density than NMC cells, they require more space to store the same amount of energy. Nevertheless, NMC storage is a mature technology and will remain competitive and effective for all applications. The biggest challenge here is to reduce the risk of thermal runaway and safety failures in integrated systems. 3. Assess supply chain and availability Another major consideration is assessing the battery system’s supply chain in the context of the commissioning date. Global demand for battery products is increasing with electric vehicle adoption, rechargeable consumer electronics, and utility-scale solar and wind projects coupled with stationary energy storage. Consequently, once the battery chemistry is chosen, other considerations include system capacity, timing and the risk of supply-chain disruptions. For example, a 2-gigawatt-hour project will likely have different supply-chain challenges and much longer lead times — two or three years — than will a 5 MW/20 MWh project that can come online within 12 months. Longer timelines can raise concerns about core metal shortages, especially for lithium, nickel and cobalt, that could delay the production of storage systems. It is critical to monitor such supply-chain shortages and assess a manufacturer’s suppliers, supplier commodities and commodity pricing, all of which may affect the cost of purchasing storage. 4. Evaluate bankability and quality As with pricing, evaluating energy storage quality requires a systemwide approach. Although battery quality may be the top concern, the quality of the enclosure, thermal management systems and the power conversion system (PCS), or inverter, are equally important. Just as with solar projects, when the PCS fails, so does the storage system. Even if due diligence has led to the selection of the highest-quality battery with the best energy management software, the PCS can cause a complete shutdown of revenue for days or even longer. In terms of assessing battery cell quality, with so many new storage companies entering the market, it is increasingly important to commission a manufacturer bankability report that includes both financial and technical due diligence. Second, asset owners should conduct a thorough on-site factory audit that reviews the entire manufacturing process. The evaluation includes a factory acceptance test, which verifies that the cells and systems are being built to design specifications and are safe to operate. Finally, it is critical to perform in-line production monitoring and final product audits to verify the storage system’s individual components. 5. Evaluate battery management software A battery system’s software is another increasingly sophisticated component of an installation that needs evaluation for various “value-stacking” applications. Utilities and developers are now using storage systems for peak-demand shaving, frequency regulation and resiliency, and the storage company or its vendors will manage those applications with software. If the software cannot properly and optimally manage charging and discharging at the right amount and the right time, then the chosen storage system may thin the value stack and reduce project profitability. Additionally, rudimentary battery management software can decrease cell longevity, causing premature battery augmentation or replacement outside of warranties and performance guarantees. In worst-case scenarios, it can fail to detect and prevent a thermal runaway event, thus putting the entire energy storage system at risk. 6. Evaluate performance guarantees Finally, asset owners should independently review any contracted performance guarantee, as well as the warranty. While a standard warranty covers parts and labor, the performance guarantee ensures that the battery system will produce the required amount of power and energy or be available for a certain amount of time for the life of the project. Performance guarantees are evolving with storage technology and markets, but the trend is toward flexible and throughput guarantees that address the owner’s current and potential future value-stacking applications. Independent energy storage supply management and quality control Energy storage technologies have been steadily evolving, but as we head into a period of accelerated growth, innovation and deployment, these considerations should not be overlooked when developing your energy storage strategy and purchasing an energy storage system in 2021. As new manufacturers and technologies enter the market, managing the supply chain and ensuring quality and safety become more complex and critical tasks. Energy storage will play a critical role in fostering a global transition to a clean energy economy, but at the end of the day, there is no shortcut or replacement for quality.
DoD Job Jar Solution
Summary There is no standard solution for DoD HQ organizations to keep track of who is doing what and where. DoD chartered responsibilities result in the implementation of jobs and processes in each organization. Due to the size of many DoD organizations, managing a current list of jobs (Job Jar), who is assigned to them, and how they relate to the organization’s mission can be a tough task. Numerous nonstandard Job Jar Excel spreadsheets are used in most DoD HQ organizations. Due to high turnover, evolving mission requirements, organizational changes, maintaining these is hard and integrating them unreasonably complicated. The Microsoft 365 GCC provided the platform and tools to solve this long-standing problem. The ACES Job Jar solution uses SharePoint Online to provide organizations an unprecedented ability to align their mission, processes, roles, and responsibilities while tracking exactly who is doing what where. This translates to significant improvements in management and organizational effectiveness. Challenge: DoD Headquarters (HQ) Organizations have senior military leaders and support staff that rotate through the HQ on two-year assignments, and bring a wide variety of unique skills and experiences that must be quickly and fully leveraged during their short stay. The constant turnover made it extremely difficult for the organization to keep track of who was doing what. Additionally, HQ organizations reorganize as required, to continuously optimize how limited resources are leveraged against new mission requirements generated by a landscape of ever-changing threats. Restructuring the organizations typically involves both the creation and elimination of one or more Divisions, Branches and Teams. Of the hundreds of jobs in each part of an HQ organization, some may be specific to a Division, Branch or Team while others may be assigned based on individual qualifications. Whenever the structure of organizations changes it typically takes 6-12 months to catch up to where they were by working through all the self-inflicted changes. Although various parts of one particular DoD HQ organization maintained a “Job Jar” (list of jobs, process, responsibilities, etc.), there was no centralized, standardized, or single authoritative source for all the organizational responsibilities, and no standard way of seeing who was responsible for what. We found Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, and OneNote lists that had a variety of nonstandard information. Some listed jobs while others associated names with the jobs. None were being maintained and few had been updated since the last reorg about a year prior. The lack of accurate insight into who was doing what resulted in unassigned jobs and unfulfilled roles and responsibilities. Latent discovery of missed deadlines and unfulfilled responsibilities led to significant inefficiencies and stress, especially in the wake of a reorg event. Solution: First, all the various spreadsheets, Word documents, OneNote pages, etc. being used as siloed Job Jars throughout all levels of the organization were collected. These documents were being stored in a variety of locations from laptops to shared drives and SharePoint. A coarse validation of the information was accomplished with whoever was available and seemingly most knowledgeable of the existing situation. Relevant artefacts and information from a verity of interviews with members at all levels in the organization were used to architect a data model to support the needed solution. A “Job Jar” list was created in SharePoint Online to manage all the jobs and their assigned personnel. Advanced data governance was incorporated to automate the infusion of managed metadata. This reduced manual list data maintenance and improved data quality and accuracy. One example of how we did this was the incorporation of the “Personnel Tracker” solution. This was one of the first solutions ACES created for the organization. Integrating the Personnel Tracker as a Lookup provided an accurate pick list of personnel to associate with each job. With the Personnel Tracker integrated, whenever someone separated and HR had designated their replacement in the system, the jobs could be automatically reassigned to the new replacement. If no one manually intervened to make any changes, the transfer of responsibilities would happen without any human intervention. Several SharePoint list views and dashboards were created to support a varity of organizational reporting requirements from Teams to the commander in the front office. A special view was created specifically to assist commanders with a Chess Board during reorgs that allowed them to view the consequences of their moves by getting an immediate list of individual responsibilities that would either travel with the person being reassigned or be reassigned to someone else. Microsoft Teams was integrated into the solution to help Job Jar stakeholders work and communicate more effectively. MS Teams provided a seamless way of interacting with HR personnel that managed the Personnel Tracker. Furthermore, new personnel could use the information posted in Teams to quickly catch up on specifics regarding the Job Jar solution. Access to the Job Jar was displayed on every organization’s Org Page in a standard location so it was always easy to find. Clicking on the Job Jar Icon would open up an interactive view of the Job Jar in a Modern List View that provided a filtered list of only the Jobs for that organization. Result: The Job Jar was one of the first places the organization began to realize the increased Return on Investment (ROI) that occurred when solutions like the Personnel Tracker were integrated. The integrated solution demonstrated the multi-faceted value of the overall solutions approach and the power of the modern experience in Microsoft 365. It also demonstrated the improved efficiencies gained with a properly architected process automation framework using the Microsoft 365 GCC. Because the Job Jar solution leveraged the Personnel Tracker, no one had to duplicate the work accomplished by the HR team to maintain an accurate list of personnel in the organization. This not only provided an accurate pick list of personnel, but enabled automatic exposure of other metadata in the Personnel Tracker such as special skills, associated Division/Branch/Team, assignment and termination dates, etc. Since anyone could sign up for an alert to the Personnel Tracker, whenever someone onboarded or separated from a Division, Branch, or Team, the people who managed the Job Jar would automatically be informed and could intervene if a manual adjustment was needed to assigned duties. SharePoint enabled a centralized, standardized, single authoritative source of information for all jobs and associated personnel. Modern Microsoft Search enabled users to quickly find Jobs, POCs, and contact information, along with their online status and availability in MS Teams. The automatic infusion of managed metadata into the Job Jar list minimized manual information management requirements and maximized data quality by removing human error during data entry. Although Teams usually knew who was doing what, they didn’t have to respond to as many data calls from their Branch, Division, or Directorate levels probing for insights. Even more notable was the time saved by people on both ends – those needing information and those who would often get the phone calls from people needing information. The productivity gains by making job assignments transparent and process owners easy to find cannot be underestimated. The biggest value to commanders was their ability to effectively manage the transfer and reassignment of responsibilities during reorg events. Being able to quickly understand if a job is aligned with a specific Team or could travel with a qualified individual-no matter where they resided in the organization-saved time and ensured the Master Sergeant with a passion for personnel training and was a fitness instructor in his spare time continued to manage and deliver PT testing for the organization regardless of his assigned Division. Best of all, there were no unassigned jobs or jobs assigned to personnel no longer in the organization. The Job Jar significantly reduced many of the burdens and challenges associated with reorgs and enabled the organization to find its stride and return to efficient operations much faster than ever before.
DoD HQ Organization Personnel Tracker Solution
Summary DoD Headquarters (HQ) organizations have an exceptionally high turnover rate for military personnel. There is no single system to track military, civilian, and contractor personnel in DoD organizations. Additionally, there is no standard information model to enable data from the different systems to be easily combined. This results in DoD organizations having no centralized way to track and manage personnel in their organizations. As a result, organizations struggle with issues from basic accountability to managing manning distributions at all levels. The new enterprise class tools in the DoD-High Microsoft 365 Government Community Cloud (GCC) have the advanced capabilities needed to make complex solutions like this both affordable and easy to manage. The ACES “Personnel Tracker” leverages SharePoint Online and Microsoft Teams to provide the single authoritative, centralized source of information organizations need to effectively manage their personnel and support numerous other HR solutions and activities. Challenge: The DoD organizations are required to use separate, disconnected systems for tracking Military and Civilian personnel. There is no system for tracking DoD contractors. Obtaining basic accountability of human resources requires aggregation of data exported from the different systems plus data from ad hoc spreadsheets used to track contractors. None of the data fields in these systems and spreadsheets are standardized so concatenating the most basic information is extremely complex and time consuming. This situation results in significant unnecessary burdens to every organization. First, the time it takes to accomplish basic tasks most industry HR systems automated years ago must still be accomplished manually in DoD. For example, basic contact lists and recall rosters are created and maintained manually using PowerPoint or Excel. Phone directories, office locations, security lists, training trackers, and more are all generated in a variety of ad hoc ways using mostly Microsoft Office applications. Any attempts at creating or automating one of these solutions must generate and maintain their own list of personnel. The lack of a central, authoritative, accurate, all-inclusive list of personnel has been one of the major roadblocks to organizations developing automated solutions. It takes too much time for process owners to maintain their own list of personnel, especially in larger organizations. Integrating lists and trackers for individual DoD organizations into each enterprise personnel repository while keeping up with contractor turnover is cost prohibitive for most organizations to create or maintain. Therefore, organizational processes have become email centric since someone usually maintains an email distro list that includes everyone in the organization. This has been the fundamental driver of ongoing siloed, email-centric processes everyone shuns but ends up doing as deadlines approach Solution: The Personnel Tracker solution started with gathering and analysing the authoritative systems for military and civilian personnel as well as the many ad hoc contractor spreadsheets. Although there were hundreds of data fields in each enterprise system, only a small subset was required to support organizational processes starting with onboarding. Data exports from military and civilian enterprise systems were used to initialy populate the Personnel Tracker with data. The ad hoc contractor lists were imported into the SharePoint list and information was manually massaged to get the system off the ground. Once it was up an running, maintaining the tracker depended on the HR team responsible for in and out processing personnel. Whenever people entered or separated from the organization they had to be added or removed from the tracker to maintain its accuracy. Quarterly exports from enterprise military and civilian personnel systems could be compared to the information in the Personnel Tracker using an automated script to highlight discrepencies. It was not uncommon in some organizations to find their Personnel Tracker more accurate than the enterprise system especially when it came to where personnel were actually assigned at the HQ. Advanced data governance was incorporated to automate the infusion of managed metadata. This reduced manual list data maintenance and improved data quality and accuracy. For example, the Personnel Tracker was integrated with SharePoint Permission Groups to automate role-based permissions management in SharePoint. This helped with one of the biggest challenges in one HQ organization, which was keeping track of internal transfers coordinated between Division Chiefs or Directorates without informing HR. This caused several problems and was a long standing HR pain point. This solution made it so the only way to change someone’s permissions in SharePoint was to change the organization they were assigned to in the Personnel Tracker. Workflows could be run manually or automaticaly to ensure whenever someone did an internal transfer they would have to update the Personnel Tracker to gain access to the content in their new organization. This solved a major problem area for HR and ensured an accurate reference for processes that relied on the Personnel Tracker to supply an accurate pick list of personnel. Several SharePoint list views and dashboards were created to support a varity of organizational reporting requirements from Branches to the Commander in the Front Office. People were able to view inbounds as soon as HR was made aware and get alerts regarding those about to leave so they could plan outbound activities well in advance. Microsoft Teams was used to provide a central, persistent collaboration capability for process owners and information stakeholders to collaborate more effectively. Teams enabled HR personnel to interact with personnel privately or in groups at all levels of the organziation in planned meetings or ad hoc occurances. It was easy to get the word out and when people were having issues they could quickly jump in a screen share session to troubleshoot their issue. A filterd view of the Personnel Tracker was added to landing page for each Division, Branch, and Team to display everyone in that part of organzation along with their position. It was presented in the same place on each landing page for consistency. Anyone could click on a name and get additional details about who each person is and how to contact them. If any information was no correct, anyone could submit an edit that would initiate an approval workflow to validate and publish the edit once approved. This ensured the right people were made aware of changes while enabling anyone to help improve the data quality in the tracker. Result: The value of the Personnel Tracker cannot be overstated. Just like the Microsoft 365 GCC environment, whatever value is quantified for this solution today will always continue to increase as more solutions continue to leverage it. The Personnel Tracker is literally the gateway to automation for DoD organizations as it provides a mainstay mechanism for transitioning away from email-centric distro list dependent processes. Not only does this solution dawn the modernization of DoD business operations but saves significant time by making machines manage the time consuming, tedious, tasks humans hate. This solution helps to free information workers to be creative and engage with issues that improve progress rather than struggling to maintain the status quo. The Personnel Tracker gives everyone a central, authoritative, accurate SharePoint list that can be incorporated as a Lookup field in their SharePoint List, Library, or custom solution. The information maintained in this list by a few HR personnel packs a pretty big punch when it comes to empowering users and process owners across the organization. Accuracy of personnel information can be automatically validated when compared to exports from different enterprise personnel systems and can often be used to increase the accuracy of enterprise systems – especially when it comes to tracking internal HQ transfers which happen all the time. The Personnel Tracker provides total control of personnel data at the organizational level. It enables the addition of custom personnel metadata without affecting anything in the enterprise systems. Metadata can be used to build custom reports and dashboards that support data-driven decisions. The solution significantly reduces the time organizations typically spend trying to maintain basic accountability and managing processes that revolve around knowing where people work in the organization and what they do, such as standing up a new Division or undergoing a larger reorganization event. Tracking all personnel (military, civilian, and contractors) in a single data repository using SharePoint Online is a game changer for DoD organizations.