Indiana utility files 7-year power grid modernization plan

Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana (Vectren South), in a petition filed on Feb. 23 with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, requested that the commission approve Vectren South’s seven-year electric plan (transmission, distribution and storage system improvement charge, or TDSIC Plan) to invest in transmission and distribution assets.

In direct testimony, Jon Luttrell, senior vice president, Utility Operations, and president, Vectren Utility Holdings, said that the company seeks approval of its plan under Senate Bill 560. The plan is designed to enhance the reliability, resiliency and safety of – and to modernize – Vectren South’s electric distribution and transmission system, he said.

The plan consists of 26 programs that, broadly speaking, fall into the categories of reliability and modernization, he said.

Luttrell said that the overall cost of the plan, over the duration of the seven-year period, is $514 million.

He said that one program under the plan calls for the installation of an advanced distribution management system (ADMS), which would provide a centralized application to monitor and control the electric distribution system as information from the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, distribution automation, fault indicators, CVR, and an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system would be fed into the ADMS to provide a clear picture of the electric system’s performance.

“This integrated functionality will alert us quickly when there is an equipment failure, identify where that failure has occurred, and enable us to send service technicians directly to the equipment that has failed,” he said.

Discussing Vectren South’s plan for AMI deployment, Daniel Bugher Sr., vice president of customer experience for Vectren Utility Holdings, said in direct testimony that Vectren South has defined a “build period” for implementing the AMI system beginning this year to deploy about 250,000 meters between electric and gas customers. Only costs pertaining to the company’s electric customers would be recovered through Vectren South’s TDSIC, he said, adding that during the build period, about 153,000 AMI electric meters would be installed.

In addition, there are about 97,000 upgrades or replacements necessary for the gas meters to use the AMI network for customers who have both gas and electric service, he said.

Vectren South would complete AMI network design in 2017, while also beginning the integration of the AMI head-end system with the MDM system, and the MDM system integration to the billing and outage management systems, he said.

After the detailed network design is finalized and network equipment is installed in the field, and once the systems integration is completed, there would be an initial deployment phase during which about 2,000 AMI meters would be installed, he said.

After the initial meters have been installed, the initial deployment would be assessed to verify the integration of the meters with Vectren South’s systems and to determine if any improvements are needed for the meter installation procedures and customer communications.

Bugher added that broad based deployment would continue into 2019 with an objective for field deployment to be completed in summer 2019.

Installation of the meters would be conducted by a vendor chosen through a competitive process, he said, adding that the AMI functions would be phased in with an immediate focus on network-based meter reading.

Additional functions that would quickly follow that capability would be the remote reconnect/disconnect capability, outage management integration, customer access to their detailed energy use, and granular energy use data integrated with systems management tools, he said.

Among other things, he noted that by 2020, the AMI system would have transitioned from the project team to the ongoing support teams that would continue to build on functionality.

Vectren Utility Holdings is the immediate parent company of Vectren South.

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Corina Rivera-Linares, chief analyst for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 10 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at .

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