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SMART GRID/METERING - A Basic Roadmap for the Development and Implementation of a Project AMR/AMI

AMR/AMI implementation involves all areas of a Utility as the program will touch every customer, every point on the electric distribution grid, and all the information systems and data that are responsible for the customers and electric operations. And it's also the “Backbone” of so-called Smart Grid Projects, and is an integrated system of Smart Meters, Communications Networks, and Data Management Systems that enables two-way communication between Utilities and Customers. Customer systems include in home displays, home area networks, energy management systems, and others.

The benefits are driven primarily by operations and maintenance savings, reduced customer outage costs, reduced utility outage restoration cost, and avoided capacity related costs, while enabling, Customer Information, Tools, and Solutions.

Applied Analytics are essential to achieve the full value of the AMR/AMI, and Digital Grid. Its solutions provide more granular data in real time, fundamentally changing the decision making process and affecting how customers are served and how assets are managed. With measurement data from AMR/AMI Meters and other sensors on the network combined with other enterprise and customer data, Utilities can enhance its analytical capabilities to cover a broad range of applications that are core to maximizing customer benefits. 

There are a multitude of deployed use cases at Utilities relative to Big Data Analytics, because Utilities differ based on their emerging business needs, technology capabilities, and in flight enterprise strategic initiatives, use cases are often deployed in different manners and in different stages of maturity model evolution. Utilities will be addressing use case development from a role derived perspective and assessing the potential use cases for each functional area within each of the business areas: 

-Asset Management

-Customer Operations

-Customer Experience

-Security Infrastructure

-Load Forecasting

Meter Data Management System - MDMS - could be considered the central module of the management system with the analytical tools required for communication with other modules incorporated within it. It also has the responsibility to perform validation, editing and estimation on the AMI data to ensure accurate and complete flow of information from customer to the management modules under possible interruptions at lower layers.

The purpose is to use all the available data from inside and outside of the grid, connect them together with available data analysis and data mining techniques, and extract useful information for decision makings.

Utilities will use the data and its enhanced data analytics capabilities to analyze and improve the operation and reliability of the electric grid.

The key AMR/AMI enhanced big data analytics opportunities for Utilities include the following:

-Asset Planning and Investment Optimization. Granular and real time data with cloud enabled advanced analytics to evaluate conditions and investments.

-Outage Management. Big data analytics will enable faster detection, fault isolation, and restoration, which will result in improved customer service and lower outage costs.

-Customer Segmentation. Targeting customers for programs and services to help them better manage their energy costs and rate options.

-Protection Revenue. A network with data analytics will allow Utilities to identify electric theft more accurately and address it more quickly.

-Demand Optimization. Optimize design of DER, demand response, energy efficiency, and TOU programs based on customer segmentation, analyze customer usage profiles.

-Network Planning and Management. Granular interval data improves load modeling, ability to better predict risk areas, and adjust distribution plans.

Outage Management System - OMS - integration with AMR/AMI and real time data enable many significant capabilities:

-Coordination with SCADA. Integration of real-time data from SCADA can enable more accurate prediction of outage locations.

-Restoration Management. In restoration mode, particularly in major event scenarios, undiagnosed nested outages can occur. OMS would compare against AMR/AMI and see where the systems disagree.

-Outage Detection and Verification. In addition to customer calls, OMS will also use AMR/AMI Data. Meters send a last gasp message when power is lost. Additionally, its integration enables Utilities to verify that customer power has been restored. Integration of OMS would enable Utilities to notify customers of outages, restoration, and expected restoration times.

-Identify and Track Momentary Outages and Power Quality Issues. AMR/ AMI integrated with OMS allow operators to gain advanced visibility to certain outage conditions and allows for proactive resolution. OMS will enable better identification and tracking of momentary outages and power quality issues, such as High/Low Voltage or Harmonics.

-Improved Reliability Reporting. OMS will enable more efficient and accurate reporting of reliability metrics using AMR/AMI Data.

The proposed investments must be carried out in three different slots:

-The Schedule - is a path designed to achieve strategic and policy objectives that will involve initiatives and projects over time.

-The Initiatives - are ongoing or initiated efforts towards this goal, such as those that take advantage of AMR/AMI resources, which will become a permanent part of operations.

-The Projects - are new technologies and solutions that are being offered to customers, whose final duration will be a function of what is learned in terms of their value to customers and the electrical system.

The Utilities should adopt new technologies and approaches to improve the utilization of network infrastructure, and to reduce Peak Demand.

A good AMR/AMI project should have some key objectives such as:

-Faster interrupt detection and restore times.

-Remote connection/disconnection.

-Customer service differentiated and customized to meet the specific needs of each customer segment.

-Improve customer experience with enhanced digital features and streamlined processes.

-Provide customer information and new options tariffs to better manage their energy use.

-Implement an advanced analytics platform to leverage AMR/AMI data to gain critical insight into customer needs and dynamic system conditions.

-Integration with interrupt management systems - OMS - to improve interrupts restoration.

-Implement revenue protection solutions that reduce theft of services and reduce losses.

-Enhance the overall customer experience with enhanced digital features and streamlined processes.

Rate Modernization

Under the Rate Modernization program, the goal is to offer customers easy-to-understand, easy-to-compare pricing options that meet current and future Utility needs.

They should also have some rate functionalities:

-Customer-centric options on how to obtain and use energy more efficiently.

-Easy to understand and easy to adopt rate options.

-Design options that allow customers to save money.

-Social benefits such as green energy or low-income programs.

-Modernized information systems solutions.

-Easy integration with other technologies and services.

Customers should easily understand the effects of rate adoption on their accounts, including a clear line of sight regarding cost savings or other benefits.

Transformer Load Monitoring - TLM will use additional AMR/AMI system data to estimate the load on service transformers with much greater precision. TLM will be able to identify transformers of reduced size that are at risk of failure due to overload, and the secondary division of a distribution transformer. This will extend the life of the equipment and reduce disruptions associated with unplanned outages.

Phase balancing will depend on AMR/AMI data to identify significant load imbalances in the distribution system. These imbalances cause excessive line losses and uneven voltage profiles. The phase balancing will be a set of studies of each circuit done simultaneously with the planning and sizing load transformers.

In short, there is no one “model or a roadmap” that is useful for all situations, since the variables are many, and there are differences in their Distribution Topologies, but the whole world has the same difficulties to modernize. Despite these differences, the basic topology of the existing electrical system remained unchanged.

What's more, with the increasing complexity of the energy sector, bringing about faster changes, and tracking the definitions of these changes are an additional challenge for the energy industry.


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