NEEDS was one of the main sponsors of the conference and the Annual Meeting of the Arab Academy of Sciences, which was attended by 56 delegates 26 invited talks from the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and North America. The conference began with a welcome address by, Prof. Elias Baydoun, the conference organizer, and a very inspiration Presidential address by His Excellency Prof. Adnan Badran, the President of the Arab Academy of Sciences. The conference had three targeted sessions in the areas of "Innovative Water Treatment Technologies for the Arab World", "Alternate and Efficient Energy Systems for the Arab Middle East", and "Environmental Remediation Strategies". A panel discussion on "Smart Grids" followed the main technical sessions. The technical sessions included of two Keynote talks on Alternate Energy (Geothermal Energy, Alternate Solid Fuels), and a Keynote talk on Educational Programs on Sustainable Energy and Entrepreneurship.
The panel session on, "Smart Grids" had participants from both academia and industry and included a lively discussion on electricity conservation by minimizing both technical and nontechnical losses in the electric grid, especially in the Arab Countries. Dr. Mounir Yehia, Chairman of NEEDS chaired this session and presented the Lebanese Electric Utility Transformation through the Distribution Service Provider (DSP) project, actually implemented at the national level. Two of the three DSP's, Butec Utility Services (BUS) and National Electrical Utility Company (NEUC), which sponsored also the organization of this session, contributed with an overview-presentation of the DSP project progress in their respective service areas.
The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at the American University of Beirut and the Near East Engineering and Development Services (NEEDS) have agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the areas related to the Distribution Service Providers (DSP) project of the power sector in Lebanon, mainly smart grid development and operations and power metering initiatives.
The MoU sets forth the role of the ECE department as an advisory partner to NEEDS in managing various technical aspects of the DSP project.
NEEDS is overseeing integral aspects of the DSP project starting with project concept, the bidders pre-qualifications, and managing project tracks including mobilization, assets survey and management, investment planning, operation and maintenance, AMI implementation, meter reading, bill collection, customer services, IT solutions, and overall project management activities. All project activities will be coordinated by Dr. Mounir Yehya, the CEO of NEEDS, and Prof. Farid Chaaban, Chair of the ECE Department.
The WEC Lebanon Committee welcomes the Lebanon Green Building Council (LGBC) in its membership. Being a local NGO, LGBC is the first honorary member to join the committee. With its rich experience in green buildings and other environmental aspects, LGBC will definitely add up to the richness of the WEC Lebanon Committee. In addition, WEC Lebanon Committee has welcomed three new members from the private sector including Near East Engineering and Development Services- NEEDS as a Corporate Gold Member. NEEDS is a pioneer consulting and engineering company specialized in the integration of advanced automation and information technologies in the energy sector.The WEC Lebanon Committee will soon launch a new initiative to sponsor research studies within Lebanese universities.
Benefit from the UNDP Guarantee Scheme on Energy Loans
UNDP Lebanon had dedicated a total amount of 600,000 USD to be used as collateral's on green energy loans presented by civic society organizations in Lebanon. Till date, around 20% of the amount has been used to guarantee loans, and LCEC urges potential beneficiaries to benefit from this scheme while applying for the NEEREA financing mechanism. This scheme could be an added value to motivate civic society organizations to apply for NEEREA loans.
The preparation phase for the installation of 1.2 Million Digital meters across Lebanon was completed, including the approval of the installation plans, meter specifications, and other required documents.
On August 29, 2013, and as an important phase of the AMI rollout deployment plan, a set of pilot projects were initiated by the three Distribution Service Providers with the contribution of Six international AMI meters manufacturers to cover 25 substations in different locations and install more than 3500 customer meters: (El Sewedy Electrometer from Egypt with ZPA from Czech Republic, Echelon and Itron from USA, , Iskraemeco from Slovenia, Sagemcom from France, and ZIV from Spain).
The pilot was implemented in different areas to cover urban, semi-urban, and rural areas taking into consideration the geography of the country, density of population, number and consumption of customers, numbers, and the MV substations to ensure the proper correlation of energy flow. EDL and NEEDS were dedicated to manage the overall process from the design phases, the workshops, the testing and the close follow up of the field work.
On September 19, 2013 and in the presence of H.E. Minister of Energy and Water, EDL Chairman, NEEDS Chairman, and in the presence of large media coverage, a live demonstration was performed on the meters' functionalities to ensure their proper operation, including the remote connection through GPRS communication.
The closing of the mobilization phase is being considered as the first breakthrough in positioning the DSPs in the heart of the distribution sector. For the first time in the public sector in Lebanon, a unique handover process took place between the Government sector (EDL) and the Private sector (DSPs). The process included two major components: a) Mobilizing EDL regional divisions with full refurbishment of offices to new modernized and computerized service offices, ensuring the provision of needed equipment and cars, and stabilizing the staffing plans and requirements; and b) transferring the EDL business and service activities including the customer services applications; plans for operation and maintenance transfers, and setting matrix of responsibilities among parties.
The EDL division handover process by the Program Manager to the DSP's was successfully completed for 40 divisions between October 24, 2012 and April 3, 2013. The average time for the execution of the handover activities was 4 to 8 hours per division whereas a dynamic process took place from direct checking of physical infrastructure to productive meetings chaired by Program managers (EDL/NEEDS) among managers and engineers of both parties
A total of 13,251 m2 in all 40 EDL divisions were refurbished in terms of civil, mechanical, electrical works and supply of all necessary furniture, office equipment, appliances and accessories.
A total of to 238 vehicles/heavy machinery and 8,000 equipment/tools were provided to all 40 EDL divisions to operate and maintain the network and substations and to ensure employee and public safety, and to perform the project activities such as Customer Services, Meter Reading, Bills Collection, Operations and Maintenance, Construction and Inspection/Removal of Violations.
A total of 1,990 field personnel were mobilized in all 40 EDL divisions. In addition DSP mobilized managerial and technical staff for the DSP Project implementation. On the handover date, each DSP became fully responsible for the performance of all related business activities.
A total of 65,000 delayed (residual) customer applications were identified and handed over to DSPs. DSPs were requested to develop complete programs to sort, analyze, schedule and complete these applications.
Full set of business activities flow charts were reviewed. EDL and DSPs reached a common understanding of responsibilities at each steps of the business flows with identified matrix of responsibilities including the name of staff assigned from each party.
The completion of Mobilization included full transfer by the Program Manager of all related business activities to DSP's at each of the 40 EDL divisions.
The power sector policy paper approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Lebanon in June 2010 correlated the implementation of the Distribution Service Provider with the appointment of Program Manager to secure the contribution of the Private Sector and to ensure project success. The settlement of offices facilities equipped with modernized hardware and software equipment for the PM was a major challenge of the project. NEEDS completed the TJ floor in EDL Headquarters in terms of office refurbishment and supply. Refurbished floor was fully equipped with a secured reliable IT infrastructure and offices supplied with all necessary operational logistics. In addition to a set of meeting rooms with a fully refurbished and equipped conference room, elaborate modern offices were allocated for MEW Advisor, EDL PM Committee, and NEEDS PM Staff.
NEEDS Management, including administrative and technical staff, were relocated to TJ floor at EDL Headquarter and and have been operating from there since January 15, 2013, where a partial opening ceremony took place. The aim of this phase was to accelerate the Project Management process and ensure EDL and PM fulfillment of responsibilities as per Project Terms of Contract.
The TJ floor opening took place on January 21, 2013 and its inauguration as the DSP Management Center occurred on March 27, 2013 by H.E. Minister of Energy and Water, EDL Chairman, and PM, in the presence of all EDL Departments, MEW representatives, and in the presence of extensive media coverage.
Over 40 panels showing a complete Photo Gallery (or visual timeline), Comprehensive Charts and Drawings summarizing projects concepts and architecture were exhibited to present the project history, stages, objectives, activities and components, challenges, and benefits. The digital PM platform for project monitoring and control was presented as the first step towards digitizing the business flow ensuring the project management based on Key Performance Indicators as the fundamental milestone for project success.