Making better use of data is a priority for grid operators everywhere.  In this 10-minute video, Sensus expert Jared Gregory explains how AMI data can be used in creative ways to build a more resilient grid. Using AMI for more than just billing is a necessary next step for utilities everywhere.

Hello, I’m Jared Gregory, senior product manager for our electric product line. And today I’m going to walk us through the topic of using AMI data to illuminate grid inefficiencies.

So right here, we have a picture of a watch and being the first slide, some of you may be wondering what does a watch have to do with AMI? And as anyone familiar with any TED talk, you often throw a picture that’s completely unrelated to get your point home.

I think we’re all aware of the direction that Apple and others have taken the watch in recent years, and they’ve expanded upon the primary use case of timing to be able to provide immense benefits in other areas. One of the game changers recently is really around a heart rate monitoring that Apple has introduced, and there can be a lot of parallels in place when we look at the watch, as well as the meter. For the most part, the meter has been a billing device that has been used to provide remote reads and its provided immense value for utilities. But I would want to challenge you that there’s many benefits, many capabilities that the meter provides well beyond billing.

One of those is to act as the system health monitor. Rather than using it to purely understand how much energy is being consumed. The meter is constantly monitoring the edge of the grid 24/7. It’s really an extension of your workforce. And so it’s wise to find ways that you can use that to better improve your operations, to improve safety, and there’s many other benefits to keep in mind. And so what we’re going to be looking at as we think of system health monitoring are four different areas: voltage, outage, power quality, and distribution assets.

We’re going to start here with voltage. When we look at the meter and its capability to look at voltage — two areas that really come to mind that will prove beneficial are related to sag and swell logs, as well as threshold alarms. At minimum, the utility is responsible for maintaining the proper voltage at the end premise. And that’s what customers have come to expect is that your lights stay on and your electronics are protected because you’re in the range that’s appropriate. So at minimum, the meter itself is constantly monitoring and in instances where thresholds are crossed, the meter can notify and inform the utility and corrective action can be taken if the alarm was large enough for the threshold that was reached was big enough that caused issues. And so this just provides some additional insight for the utility to take action if necessary. But beyond that is the logging mechanism that meters can provide in terms of sag and swells. And this goes beyond just the traditional I’ve reached a certain threshold. This goes into magnitude duration and time. And what this really does is it gives utilities greater insight into what’s occurring across various locations on their grid.

Being able to actually understand the implications where a voltage spike of 50% for less than one second can be readily rode through compared to something that spiked for 500% over the course of four or five seconds. And so this really empowers the utility to respond accordingly, based off the priority. And the meter can give you such priority.

Moving beyond voltage to outages, many utilities are experiencing the benefit from meters, informing them when the meter is out, when power is lost. But beyond that, the meter can provide additional levels of granularity as it relates to outages going beyond the complete outage to being able to identify little subsets, click momentary or sustained. And what’s useful about this additional insight is that you can really begin fine tuning and understanding where the anomalies are at on your system. If you end up experiencing two, three, 10 outages that occur repeatedly for two or three seconds at a time, you may not ever see a complete outage on the system, but it’s still at a pain that the customer is experiencing.

And so the meters themselves are equipped to be able to support you. And what this really does is it just allows your line crews to be more efficient because rather than searching out issues along the entire feeder, you’re able to isolate more or less where the issue is at and you’re able to resolve the problems faster so that your customers no longer have lights flickering from tree branches or other things that are causing disruptions on their system.

Going beyond outages would be power quality. We live in a world where 60 Hertz is, is not just the norm any longer. For the most part loads used to be very resistive, but nowadays we have laptop computers, cell phones, TVs, gaming, all of this is DC. All of this is introducing harmonics and noise on the system. And so due to the changing nature of your energy signal the meter needs to be equipped to understand harmonics, needs to understand what type of loads are on your system that way the utility can finely tune voltage, regulators, capacitors, and a numerous other equipment to be able to better improve the signal that’s coming into your home. And the meter affords you this with upwards of 4,000 samples a second on voltage and current, being able to look at the 19th harmonic of the 60 Hertz signal, it really should be expected that the meter provides unparalleled insight. That’s going to prove to be very valuable as you understand, what’s occurring on your system.

And finally, asset management. Equipment on the grid is very expensive and so it’s important to find ways to protect your investment and to have the asset live as long as possible. And so when we combine a number of these heartbeats, more or less together, when we think of voltage, we think of harmonics, we’ve begin, being able to see and understand the loading that exists on the system or problem areas that may be your recloser circuit breaker or switch are experiencing. And so this understanding allows you to improve the longevity of your assets by being aware of problem areas faster. And so this additional insight, being able to aggregate load over time, being able to find spikes really just helps with modeling and ultimately lets you help run your system more effectively.

So as we, I think through those topics, I think it’s really worth understanding and doing a self-evaluation as it relates to where you’re at with your system. If you’re new to AMI and you are maybe in the AMR world, or you have a system that can’t communicate remotely and you’re beginning to create new RFPs or you’re considering a transition to AMI, I would challenge you that it’s really imperative to be finding ways to include these types of use cases into your business case. Because at this time there’s an immense amount of scrutiny around utilities and their ability to capitalize on the equipment that they’re deploying. And so these items reflect some additional value that non-traditional use cases don’t really consider. And so it’s important to keep those in mind because we believe it will really increase the likelihood of use cases of large projects being pursued and accepted.

And the flip side of that is those who have AMI, those who have deployed a number of years, the challenge is really to look inwards and identify. Are you utilizing your system to its greatest capabilities? Are you finding ways to leverage outage, voltage, in ways that help you reduce the time that your workforce is in the field, reduce outage times, improve longevity of your assets.

And so we hope that the session was enlightening. We hope it encourages you that there’s ways that you can leverage your meters in ways that are beyond what you’re using them for today. And if you’d like to learn more, feel free to go and read on I want to thank you for listening. Goodbye.