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Integrating Metering & Information Systems

Fortnightly Magazine - February 1 1998

the critical PBR parameters by which a "wireco" can be measured. The meter and an independent metering system are the best source of this information.

Real-Time Data:

Essential for Direct Access

Direct access only increases the need for the precision and advanced capabilities of smart meters. The challenges cover a wide range, from real-time pricing to transmission congestion.

True real-time pricing requires that the usage and price be computed on short time periods (em 15 minutes anticipated today and possibly five minutes in the future. Reading the meter like this may

frequently be beyond the capacity of the private AMR radio network technology; smart meters can retain the information and allow daily or monthly reads as desired. In California, New England and New York, the development of independent system operators has already shown the need for advanced meters for accurate measurement, settlements and accounting.

In fact, ISOs do more than assure reliability and efficient transmission. They must deal with scheduling deliveries, accounting and settling up. These tasks turn out to be as large a technical challenge as the electric operations. The California and New York ISO systems are encountering these challenges and addressing them today.

Granted, California is a large market, but nonetheless it sets the principle that the ISO will end up with a transaction processing requirement as large as any used in American commerce today. Add to this the desire of the industry and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to move to Internet technology, and you have one of the largest information technology system challenges around today. As was said earlier, the California projects are showing that providing the needed solution is feasible, but the challenge should not be underestimated.

Ralph D. Masiello is vice president for business development, ABB Information Systems division of ABB Power T&D Col Inc., the leading manufacturer of electric meters in North America.

California Metering Rules: An Interview with ORA Engineer

Anthony Mazy

ON Dec. 3, 1997, the California Public Utilities Commission issued

Decision 97-12-048, ironing out details for deregulation of the electric metering industry, a process begun in May 1997, in Decision 97-05-039, in which it announced the unbundling of "revenue-cycle services," including electric metering.

The December order responded to a report issued by the PUC's Meter and Data Communications Standards Workshop. It was notable for appearing to cut back on the extent of meter deregulation. For example, the order appeared to give no right to direct access customers to choose their own meter service provider or meter data management agent. Instead, energy service providers and utility distribution companies will take over the role of meter service providers and meter data management agents, with the right to assign those tasks to independent vendors, if they so choose.

Does that model achieve the vision of meter unbundling? For an interpretation, Bruce W. Radford, editor of the Fortnightly, solicited comments from Anthony Mazy, a utility engineer with the state's Office of Ratepayer Advocates, who originally proposed to unbundle meter services in California.

BWR: Do you have any general comments on Decision 97-12-048?

AM: While I do not