Interoperability Event Demonstrates Successful Grid Model Data Exchange

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Sean Crimmins's picture
Manager, Enterprise Architecture & Integration EPRI

Manage the validation and extension of signal APIs and the effect on the wholesale electricity market.

  • Member since 2020
  • 1 items added with 900 views
  • Dec 8, 2022

It’s no surprise that the energy grid we rely on to power our lives is complex. While today’s growing number of distributed energy resources (DER) – including solar photovoltaic, battery storage, and wind generation – are making our grid more capable and decarbonized, they are also making distribution grid behavior more unpredictable. For energy providers, making sense of this complexity is critical to ensuring accurate operating scenarios are being used in strategic planning and decision making. As a result, energy providers must leverage grid analysis and simulation to a greater degree than ever before, requiring more accurate and accessible grid models for input. 

In support of these efforts, EPRI began its distribution Grid Model Data Management (GMDM) research in 2017. EPRI’s strategy is to develop a unified, vendor-agnostic architecture to enable energy providers to better manage their distribution grid data using products that operate and communicate with each other more accurately.  The value of this architecture – and its practical application– was demonstrated at the recent EPRI/UCAIug CIM Interoperability event.  

Over the course of a few days, ten test witnesses from energy providers and integration consulting firms watched as nine vendors’ successfully exchanged distribution grid model data using the Common Information Model (CIM) – a standard that allows applications and devices to be controlled across different vendors. These CIM-defined data exchanges performed by participating vendors – which represented all major distribution utility applications that produce or consume grid model data – using EPRI’s new architecture reflected the real-world flow of information across the energy provider enterprise. Highlights included: 

  • Feeder modeling was produced from Esri’s ArcGIS Utility Network by Safe Software’s FME tool 
  • Substation modeling was produced by Bentley’s OpenUtilities Substation
  • Feeder and substation modeling was combined in Grid Model Management (GMM) tools - Open Grid Systems’ Cimphony tool, I.P.S.’s CIM-Based Network Model Management solution and Bentley’s OpenUtilities Digital Twin Services
  • Operations models, produced by the GMM tools, were consumed by Oracle’s NMS tool and Survalent’s ADMS 
  • Complete case models for planning (including operational state) were read by Pacific Northwest National Lab’s CIMHub tool and EPRI’s Model Conversion Tool (MCT) tool, which ran power flows with comparable results

The grid model data exchanged at the event represented the most current CIM developments for grid model data management, the modeling of unbalanced electrical systems, the use of both electrical parameters and physical characteristic data, and the merging of distribution and transmission models. 

After the event, several participating vendors shared their thoughts about the impact of GMDM interoperability:

The interoperability of interfaces demonstrated at this year’s event sets the stage for distribution utilities to implement more comprehensive solutions for effective, enterprise-wide grid model data management. Since demonstrating the full potential of this data architecture, interest has skyrocketed and EPRI continues to support energy companies implement it into their operations. EPRI continues to investigate new languages that can capture the knowledge of the world’s experts and use them for automatically validating data sets in ways that are not possible today.

To learn more about EPRI’s work on grid model data management or the EPRI/UCAIug Interoperability Event, contact me at, or visit the links below:  
Distribution Grid Model Manager (GMM) Functional Requirements 
Applying the Grid Model Data Management (GMDM) Approach at the Distribution Utility 
CIM Support for Distribution Grid Model Data Management 
Distribution Grid Model Data Management (GMDM) A Best Practice Approach 
Common Information Model Primer: Eighth Edition 

Founded in 1972, EPRI is the world's preeminent independent, non-profit energy research and development organization, with offices around the world.
Paul Korzeniowski's picture
Paul Korzeniowski on Dec 26, 2022

Good points. The reality is that the systems that control portions of the grid were designed in isolation and built o perform a single task. To put information into context  and see what is happening at a high level requires that standards be put into place so information has consistent labels.  Such work is complicated but necessary in order for the grid to become smarter and more automated. 

Sean Crimmins's picture
Thank Sean for the Post!
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