Getting SMART With Modern Electric Grids and Meter Solutions

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“Smart” Energy Technology

In the utilities sector, we have seen a continued focus on making energy infrastructure and related devices “smart.” This trend includes Smart Grids, Microgrid, Smart Meters, and AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure). These technologies are central to pursuing the vision of a modernized and optimized energy sector, as seen in “Smart City” and “Utility of the Future” initiatives.

 

While the potential of these smart technologies is tremendous, it is crucial to deliver them through best practices in application testing and quality deployment assurance to make them as “smart” as they can be.

 

Smart Grids

Energy providers employ Smart Grid technologies to extend electrical information for greater system availability, improved business efficiency and better customer experience.  These technologies make the energy grid “smarter” through cutting-edge technologies, equipment, and controls that benefit both energy providers and consumers. 

  • Smart Grids enable utilities to improve security, increase the integration of renewable power sources, reduce peak loads, and lower operational costs 
  • Smart Grids empower consumers to access their own data and better manage their energy consumption and energy expenses  

 

For example, we recently supported a major US utility’s Smart Grid program to optimize the mesh network for their Midwest OPCO, improving reliability and efficiency by using a single network for multiple Smart Grid services.  

 

This Smart Grid initiative contributed major tangible benefits to the utility’s customers: 

  • 46% reduction in frequency of customer interruptions  
  • 32% reduction in customers impacted by storms 

Smart Grid Graphic

 

Olenick’s portfolio of Smart Grid work includes: 

  • Smart Grid system implementation, providing project management, integration, environmental controls, software testing, and change management services 
  • Setting up communications and connecting to new Smart Grid Networks 
  • Implementation of Smart Grid devices, components, and connectivity for substations
  • Data transformation, analytics, and monitoring of Smart Grid devices 

 

Smart Meters and AMI

Smart meters are intelligent devices that collect, analyze and transmit a range of vital information to the electrical utility’s integrated systems. They are based on AMI technology, which uses wireless mesh networks for data communication between the smart meters and utility centers.

 

AMI systems create an active, intelligent network that employs analytics throughout the electric grid to improve outage detection times, detect and prevent dangerous grid conditions, and increase reliability. This technology helps our utilities partners achieve a smarter, more reliable electric grid.

  • AMI systems manage data on millions of endpoints while providing timely and accurate meter data for utility business processes  
  • They capture the smart meter traffic and enable two-way communications between customers and the utility 
  • They help utilities balance their electric grid while minimizing cost, hardware and labor 

 

The result is more accurate readingsgreater visibility into grid operations and increased customer satisfaction. 

 

From an energy provider perspective, AMI benefits include: 

  • Accurately identifies meter-to-transformer and meter-to-phase connectivity, using only hourly voltage data  
  • Collects and manages data to provide greater visibility into usage trends 
  • Acts on available data rather than requiring hardware or field labor 
  • Identifies potential problems early  
  • Drives more informed business decisions via AMR-supported analytics 

 

From an energy user perspective, AMI benefits include: 

  • Gives users ownership and awareness of their energy usage 
  • Helps users better manage their energy expenses  
  • Helps users be more pro-active and informed 

SmartMeter

 

With expertise in AMI and smart meter technology, Olenick is skilled in partnering with utilities and vendors to maintain AMI head ends and support deployment of smart devices and other emerging technologies related to these smart networks.

 

Olenick’s Smart Meter/AMI experience includes: 

  • Implementation and testing of new mesh networks for Smart Grid communication 
  • AMI system upgrade, testing, and integration  
  • Deployment of AMI systems to capture the smart meter traffic and enable two-way communications between customers and the utility 
  • Development support for AMI interface connection to the Operations Management System (OMS) 
  • Management and support of AMI functional and technical updates 
  • AMI data architecture, analysis and transformation design 
  • ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) Support for AMI systems 
  • Comprehensive testing on AMI project releases 

 

Microgrids

Another growing trend in modern energy infrastructure is the Microgrid. Microgrids are small installations of independent power systems – usually using newer renewable energy sources like Wind, Solar, or Battery power – to support a small area’s power needs in case there are main power outages in that area. 

 

Microgrids help utilities maintain normal operations while implementing new technology, and they are also increasingly helpful in remote or susceptible regions to keep consistent power flow to those areas. 

 

Olenick’s recent microgrid projects for utilities include:  

  • Implementing one of the nation’s first utility-operated microgrid clusters, performing system design and architecture for the new microgrid 
  • Managing RFP development and scoring to source vendors for building and delivering a complete and functioning microgrid system 

 

Olenick’s Smart Technology Services

Achieving the benefits of “smart” energy technology requires enabling the right IT solutions – and enabling those solutions requires having an IT partner who knows the technology and brings the rigor in quality assurance needed to deploy it successfully. Olenick takes pride in being this trusted partner for our utility clients.  

 

Through the below service offerings, we help our utility partners implement, integrate, and upgrade these smart energy solutions to deliver on their potential: 

 

Stay tuned for the next article in this series, which will focus on Smart Cities and Utility of the Future.

Contact us to learn more about how Olenick can help you stay up to date with the latest smart energy technologies. 

 

Contributing Editor: Eric Byville

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