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The idea whiteboard. What does not exist that should?

The idea whiteboard.  Below are some thoughts on "smarter" meters. 

Advanced “smarter meters” - that don't exist yet - but should.

What could you do with more info from your distribution network?  How about partial discharge detection?  Electric distribution networks are spattered with transformers and meters.  Think of all of these transformers of potential transformers, every few hundred feet along the distribution system.  If "smarter” meters could sample fast enough, and that data could be aggregated and analyzed fast enough there is the possibility of partial discharge detection along the entire distribution system.  Knowing the area where there is a damaged or dirty insulator, a close tree branch, bad bushing on a transformer is a pretty powerful tool that is possible with partial discharge detection.  The challenge is how to collect - aggregate - sort and use the massive amount of data.

Fault location.

More “smarter” meter ideas.  On a radial distribution system the voltage beyond the fault will be nearly the same as the voltage at the fault.  Once again - the army of existing “potential transformers” (pole top transformers) and “smarter” meters could be the solution to fault location.  Say the line is single phase - 12 miles long, and there is a fault 7 miles out.  Every mile along the line there is 12 distribution transformers evenly spaced out feeding a few homes.  The first 84 transformers along the first 7 miles will feed see a gradual decrease in voltage from the source end to the fault end.  The remaining 60 transformers on the last 5 miles of line will see voltage that is nearly identical between them.  If the meters were ‘smarter” meters and they could sample fast enough the voltage data could be aggregated, processed and just like magic faults could be located within several hundred feet on distribution.  That data could be used to send a crew out to the correct area - quickly.

On a network distribution system the voltage at the fault location will be the lowest, once again - “smarter” meters could provide fault location.  Same idea as above, just that the voltage will be divided along the lines in the network feeding the fault from multiple sources - with the lowest voltage being at the fault.

Capturing phasor measurement data from “smarter” meters would lead to better protection.  I'm just curious when it will happen.




Peter Jereb's picture

Thank Peter for the Post!

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Randy Long's picture
Randy Long on Oct 7, 2019 2:29 am GMT


I think synchrophasor's are definitely the wave of the future. Synchrophasors or really advanced meters might be able to do some really useful things on the distribution side, but I think were still a few years' out for that. DER's/PV are really stressing the infrastucture right now. I'd be curious if Asset Managers could glean actionable info from advanced meters? Not too mention the operations folks and getting some OMS/EMS in real time. 

We're in uncharted territory...but it looks promising!

Tripp Tucker's picture
Tripp Tucker on Oct 7, 2019 10:48 am GMT

I prefer "smart controllers" as the solution to advanced “smarter meters”. Smart software-defined electricity controllers can sample in the nanoseconds and correct in the microseconds, with enough onboard processing power to work autonomously to solve or pinpoint disturbances.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 7, 2019 12:45 pm GMT

Appreciate your framing of this question, Peter. I worry that too often the executives and decision-makers aren't approaching the question in this way, but are rather just looking at the tech they do have and figuring out where & how to slap it. I hope your 'idea whiteboard' concept can take off!

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