A deliberate approach to infrastructure advancement.
The electric power system has been getting smarter for decades, as new technologies allow better analysis and greater control. But most utilities have implemented these technologies in a piecemeal way, rather than as part of a long-term, enterprise-scale strategy. What are the consequences of this fragmented and incidental approach, and what would happen if we developed the smart grid in a deliberate way instead?
Distribution management at the smart grid frontier.
The hype over smart grid has become focused on the idea of “advanced distribution management systems” (ADMS). But so far, few utilities have implemented ADMS beyond pilots and incremental tests. Fortnightly analyzes the technology trends and profiles examples of true ADMS in action.
ETRM software is adapting to a changing energy market.
Ask Ed Bell about energy trading and risk management (ETRM) technology and he’ll likely bring up his days with Enron back in the early 1990s. Bell—now a principal at Houston-based technology consulting firm International Commerce—says there are distinct similarities between the functional trading and risk assessment requirements his team had to plan for back then and the system requirements ETRM platform vendors and their clients have to prepare for today.
Intelligent networks support better decision making.
Sophocles once said, “Quick decisions are unsafe decisions.” Apparently Sophocles did not work in the utility industry. Utilities must make quick decisions every day to maintain a safe and reliable grid. As they have learned, the key to a quick and safe decision is making a well-informed decision. Yet utilities face challenges in providing enough information for their employees and automated systems to make these types of decisions.
Independent system operators and regional transmission organizations recognize the value in having a common IT architecture.
In today’s modern business environment, standards for products and services have become common—and expected—practice. The time is right for creating a common language among the critical software tools needed to deliver a reliable, competitively priced supply of electricity through today’s integrated power grids and wholesale market structures.
Utilities are learning how smart-grid data will interface with CIS and other back-office systems. Meters and middleware are rapidly evolving in this brave new world.
The manager of technology services for Phoenix-based Salt River Project (SRP) is tasked with implementing a revolutionary process for one of the most progressive public power utilities in the country. Specifically, he is working to integrate data from SRP’s smart meters (140,000 and counting) into the utility’s back-office processes—particularly customer service and billing.
How cutting-edge military technologies can help solve some of the industry’s most critical issues.
Whether it’s an aging workforce, the impact of competitive markets, or an outdated transmission system, today’s energy and utility organizations are facing a whole new set of challenges. What many people in the industry don’t realize is that the utility sector is not the first to face these kinds of issues. The U.S. military is dealing with, or has dealt with, a strikingly similar set of problems in recent years.
To the Editor:
In “Rate-Base Cleansings: Rolling Over Ratepayers” (November 2005, p.58), Michael Majoros urges state public utility commissions to recognize a refundable regulatory liability for past charges to ratepayers for non-legal asset retirement costs.
State PUCs should recognize a refundable regulatory liability for past charges to ratepayers.
The Financial Accounting Standards Board SFAS No.143 identifies an immediate need for state public utilities commissions to recognize a refundable regulatory liability for past charges to ratepayers for non-legal asset retirement costs. Although these prior charges resulted in billions of dollars of regulatory liabilities on utilities' generally accepted accounting principles financial statements, they are almost invisible on the regulatory financial statements of the utilities. Unless the state PUCs specifically recognize the liabilities, the utilities will have the opportunity to institute a rate-base "cleansing" by transferring ratepayer-fronted money into income.
Several issues need to be addressed before municipals and co-ops participate significantly in regional transmission organizations.
Lisa G. Dowden, Ben Finkelstein, and David E. Pomper