By Martin Powers, GWP, and Terry McDonald, KEMA Inc.
Looking to redefine the way they interact with their customers, improve operations and leverage detailed service point information within their organizations, utilities across the United States are undertaking transformational projects around advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and meter data management systems (MDMS).
In California, the City of Glendale is aggressively implementing an AMI / MDMS infrastructure, with smart meter installations beginning this year. Any successful move to the smart grid requires the right implementation, the right technologies and the support of regulators—and this project has all three.
One of just 33 public power utilities selected for a U.S. Department of Energy Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) award, Glendale Water & Power (GWP) is moving forward with its AMI / MDMS infrastructure as the first step in its smart grid roadmap. GWP will be replacing all of its electric meters, which serve 84,500 customers, with smart meters enabled with two-way communications and automating its 33,400 water meters to communicate over a secure wireless network.
The new smart metering infrastructure and data management system will support home area networks (HAN) to communicate with home appliances; heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; pool pumps and in-home energy displays. Customers also will have Internet-accessible portals to view their electric and water usage.
GWP is moving into AMI from a targeted automated meter reading (AMR) program with AMR installed on electric meters at about 5,500 single-family homes and 100 small commercial service locations—and at 66 water meters throughout the City.
Each electric meter presently downloads kilowatt-hour (KWh) information and each water meter provides the running total of consumption, by radio, to a hand-held device operated by the GWP meter readers within a few-hundred-foot radius of the meter. Many commercial meters also download peak load information.
Glendale’s new AMI / MDMS system will include the following features:
- Smart meters with large data storage capabilities and two-way communications hardware and software—electric meters with remotely controllable switches to allow for remote service disconnect and re-connect and water meters with leak detection.
- A wide area network to allow two-way communications between the utility and each meter in its service territory.
- A communications backbone for distribution automation, direct load control, distributed generation, demand response and new customer programs and service options that will allow customers to take control of energy and water costs through access to real- or near-real-time consumption information.
- MDMS and systems software to integrate meter data with the utility’s billing, customer information, outage management, load control and other smart grid systems.
- A premise gateway that communicates to a home area network to promote demand response, energy and water conservation, and dynamic pricing options.
With full installation planned for completion in 2011, GWP customers will have access to timely energy and water use information that will help them to better manage their consumption and utility costs.
The new AMI/MDMS system will have the flexibility to integrate enhanced and new advanced grid capabilities as they become available or feasible for integration. In addition to technical modernization and smart grid capabilities, the project will enable GWP to make ongoing improvements in customer service, service reliability and revenue management.
The GWP smart grid project will connect customers to the grid in new, more dynamic ways. When it is fully implemented, customers will be better enabled to make sustainable energy use choices and manage their utility costs—all while supporting a more reliable distribution system and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The project will also ensure GWP meets the mandates set forth by California Senate Bill 17—the nation’s first statewide smart grid law, enacted in October 2009.
The GWP smart metering project mirrors the bill’s objectives, using grid technology to manage the electric grid more efficiently, reliably and securely while empowering consumers with real-time information they can use to make more efficient energy use choices, save money and help protect the environment.
A leading practice in successful project management, like the smart grid project at GWP, is robust stakeholder management. Stakeholder management is especially important when the project involves process redesign. Stakeholders are defined as people who can have a positive or negative impact on a project or those who will be impacted by a project.
The GWP stakeholder management team is part of the project management office (PMO). This team carefully defined who the internal and external stakeholders are and then developed a plan to address their needs in the right way at the right time during the life of the project.
The stakeholder management plan includes internal and external communications using every possible medium with an emphasis on creation of two way interaction.
The program is using town hall meetings, email, direct mail letters and post cards, door hangars, television, radio and newspaper interviews and advertising, presentations and discussions with community groups as well as brochures placed in bills and a dedicated call center to reach out to customers. A new Web page is being added to the GWP website with frequently asked questions and a video explaining the entire program. Managers are being thoroughly briefed and provided with talking points and support materials.
Training is also a key element in stakeholder management. Training prepares employees to transition smoothly to new or different job responsibilities.
When large, difficult projects are undertaken the steadfast guidance of the top manager is vital.
Glendale’s General Manager Glenn Steiger is the program’s champion and spokesperson. Steiger has established the project as a priority for all managers and employees. His unwavering support is one of the success factors that distinguish this project.
The PMO, led by the project sponsor Craig Kuennen, is responsible for planning and executing the project. The work on this project is being completed by an alliance of vendors in partnership with GWP employees. Organization and coordination of diverse resources is a challenging task that Kuennen and his PMO are managing.
As this project progresses, GWP is committed to sharing data and lessons learned.
For more information on GWP’s smart grid project, contact Craig Kuennen GWP sponsor AMI/smart grid project at 818-548-3369 or Ckuennen@ci.glendale.ca.us.