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EPRI’s new center for utility AMI data

We’ve come a long way, AMI
Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) systems, which include smart meters and their communications networks, have been deployed by a growing number of utilities since 2008. 

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. had almost 52 million smart meters deployed by May 2015.  EPRI estimates that there are about 170 million meters for all consumer segments in the U.S.  Globally, nations like France are on track to deploy smart meters for 90% of their customers, while South Korea aims at achieving a 100% smart meter status by 2020. 

If you recall the early deployment days, AMI systems were touted as solutions that would link to home energy management systems (HEMS) and give consumers greater control of their electricity consumption.  There was a lot of “roadkill” on that technology highway as many small and large vendors entered and then exited the smart meter-enabled HEMS market.  The initial use case didn’t turn out to be what those entrants had hoped it would be.  But that is a fairly common situation when it comes to innovative technologies.  It takes time to explore the potential different applications and use cases. 

Loads of AMI benefits -- and data
One immediately-realized benefit of smart meters was in carbon emissions reductions as labor-intensive manual meter reading tasks were automated. But that was only the beginning, because utilities started to leverage the new volumes and velocities of data gathered by smart meters.  A number of utilities unveiled new utility portals that offered consumers improved information and analysis about their electricity consumption.     

That AMI system data granularity had other benefits as well. Utilities realized that smart meters could communicate tamper situations, but more than that, sifting through data can detect unusual patterns of consumption and outliers.  Corrective actions could reduce revenue losses due to theft, which in some parts of the globe are quite serious challenges for utilities.  However, for all utilities, accuracy in usage also helps make grid operations safer and more reliable.  Since smart meters can communicate events that include loss of power, automated outage detection – the transmission of that “last gasp” signal eliminates the need for consumers to provide that information to utilities.  That has resulted in improved service delivery for residential, commercial, and industrial consumers, with ancillary economic and societal benefits.  

AMI systems are not only improved data “generation and transmission” solutions for utilities.  They can perform remote connect/disconnect functions.  The old-fashioned process of waiting at your address during a four-hour window of time for a utility service technician to physically perform this task is replaced by an automated command. For consumers, smart meters deliver great convenience.  For utilities, it’s another carbon emission reduction benefit with associated labor savings.  These technicians can now be deployed to higher value tasks.

A new home for AMI data at EPRI: The AMI Resource Center
But what’s next for AMI systems? What other new applications will be adopted by utilities, and what will be the realized benefits? For the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), in its role providing collaborative research, development, and demonstration projects for electric utilities to benefit the public good, there are other practical matters to consider.  What are the best practices to managing AMI systems? How can utilities optimize their investments in the technology and the accumulated data? To answer these and other questions confronting utilities, EPRI recently launched the AMI Resource Center to compile information about utility AMI applications, operations, and management practices for the systems themselves and the data they collect. 

If you are a utility resource with responsibilities for a deployed AMI system, please go to http://ami.epri.com and join with other utilities in sharing and understanding the present state of AMI system technology and applications.  “Knowledge is power” – and part of EPRI’s mission is to facilitate the aggregation and analysis of accumulated knowledge about AMI systems to benefit utilities with AMI systems and those planning to deploy them.  The results are anonymized and available to all participating utilities, and informs EPRI’s ongoing research in our Information and Communication Technology Program’s Advanced Metering Systems project set. 

Christine Hertzog is a technical advisor for Information and Communication Technology and Cyber Security at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).  

Brian Seal is a technical executive at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) where he manages the organization’s Information and Communication Technology research in the areas of advanced metering, demand response, and integration of distributed energy resources. 

Don Von Dollen is a senior program manager at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and is responsible for the Information and Communication Technology program.

 

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Thank Christine for the Post!

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