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Duke Energy to Provide Remote Monitoring, Control Services for Offshore Block Island Wind Farm

New prospects for “green” economic development are shaping up as project developers move forward with plans to construct the nation’s first offshore wind power facilities.

An industry milestone was achieved in August when Deepwater Wind completed construction of the 30-MW Block Island Wind Farm. Their blade tips revolving 600 feet above the water, five 6-MW GE Renewable Energy Haliadegearless turbines — a product line included as part of GE’s acquisition of the power and grid business of France’s Alstom — will convert the energy of offshore North Atlantic winds into electrical energy. The project will supply enough power to meet 90 percent of Block Island’s needs and send electricity to mainland Massachusetts’ utility grid.

The project is generating new green business opportunities and jobs, as well as emissions-free electricity. Duke Energy Renewables on Oct. 26 said it signed an agreement with Deepwater Wind Block Island to provide 24/7 remote monitoring and control services for the U.S.’s first commercial offshore wind farm.

The agreement, financial terms of which haven’t been disclosed, also calls for Duke to see to data acquisition, performance analysis and reporting when the offshore wind farm begins commercial operation this month. Serving as a point of contact with ISO New England, Duke will also be responsible for energy market and dispatch services for the Block Island Wind Farm.

All of these tasks will be performed remotely at Duke Energy’s Renewable Control Center (RCC) in Charlotte, N.C. Registered as a generator-operator with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the RCC is providing critical monitoring and management services for 4,500 MW of renewable power generation capacity, according to the company.

Duke Energy Renewables began monitoring its own renewable energy generation sites in 2008 upon completion of its first wind farm, the 29-MW Happy Jack Wind Power project, Duke spokesperson Tammie McGee told Renewable Energy World.

Duke’s remote monitoring and performance management capacity has mushroomed since alongside rapid growth of the company’s project portfolio, as well as services provided for third parties, which prompted construction of its state-of-the-art RCC in 2015.

Duke now provides remote monitoring and control services for 73 wind and solar power projects in 15 states, a total of more than 4,500 MW of power capacity — 3,000 MW of Duke owned and 1,500 MW for third-party customers.

“The Renewable Control Center is at the heart of our growing renewable operations across the U.S.,” Rob Caldwell, president, Duke Energy Renewables and Distributed Energy Technology, said in a July statement. “The control center increases our ability to safely and reliably operate wind and solar plants across the country and maximizes the performance of our assets and those of our third-party customers.”

Two sub-contractors will support Duke Renewables as it fulfills the terms of its agreement with Deepwater Wind Block Island. Grantek Systems Integration is supplying plant network, SCADA design and engineering services, while Philadelphia-based Customized Energy Solutions is providing scheduling, settlement and reporting services.

Beefing up cybersecurity of its remote monitoring services, the Duke subsidiary is implementing additional controls in order to comply with NERC’s Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) requirements, Jeff Wehner, VP of Duke Energy Renewable Operations, said in an Oct. 26 statement. “Offering the advanced technology and security of a CIP-compliant control center to others in the renewables industry, like the Block Island Wind Farm, saves customers the significant investment of building a control center of their own.”

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