Flexible prices make markets hum,
but discounts discriminate when monopolies rule.
Many expect that the electricity industry is moving inexorably toward a much-publicized "new...
most utilities have built but that few have exploited. This IT infrastructure is based upon the analysis and correlation of the huge quantities of untapped measurement data found in their substations. Referred to as non-operational data, this data can be used to more precisely understand the current state of their system and quantify the risk and potential reliability problems with apparatus and circuits in the future.
When combined with operational data, this non-operational information allows for ground-up analysis of the T&D system, which permits executive-level decision-making processes to be arrived at more accurately. Processed correctly, this data not only offers the answers to questions regarding the current state and health of a utility's T&D system, but it has the ability to diagnose a problem before a catastrophic event occurs.
The benefits of collecting and storing all this data become obvious when looking at overall operations and maintenance strategy. With analytical applications, a utility can examine a chronology of events related to a piece of equipment, such as its degradation and upkeep over a long period of time, where problems can mount over months or years. As long as things go well operationally, and key parameters are met, things are fine.
When things change abruptly for some reason, though, there is cause for concern-not just for short-term operations, but for long-term maintenance, reliability, and investment strategies. Is the equipment degrading? Will it fail? Is it time to replace it, and if so, with what?
Having an archive of non-operational data allows a utility to look at the use of a piece of equipment, like a transformer, over time. That allows decisions to be made on when to repair or replace a particular transformer, and it allows analysis of whether to move a typically underused transformer already in service to a higher-demand location, or to buy a similar or better unit to meet location requirements. If the underused transformer moved from within the system must be replaced, is purchasing a lower-rated unit, at lower cost, an option for that location?
In the past, this type of analysis would have required an engineer to travel to a substation or multiple locations to retrieve data from various sources, and then analyze the data and produce a report. Today, technology allows this type of task to be done in a wholly automated manner.
Relating to Sarbanes-Oxley
This solution can play a positive role in another factor that now impacts many executives' decision making: Sarbanes-Oxley. Intended to deal only with financial data, the law also affects electric utilities and how they monitor, record, and make use of operational data. Sarbanes-Oxley has made the CFO and CEO of an organization personally exposed when the company announces financial information.
The question then becomes, what is financial information? In today's deregulated environment, line capacities in a grid have a direct tie to, and impact on, an electric utility's financial health. The argument is then fairly clear that information regarding the electric system is covered in some way by Sarbanes-Oxley.
Sarbanes-Oxley specifies that appropriate controls be in place regarding the governance of