Oracle Survey Addresses Data Deluge

Smart grid deployments have inundated utilities with data. The average utility with at least one smart meter program in place has increased the frequency of its data collection 180 times-collecting data once every four hours as opposed to just once a month. This is according to the first report from Oracle’s “Utility Transformations” series, which examines how utilities use information generated from smart grid deployments to drive greater organizational efficiency, more reliable service and stronger customer relationships.

The report, “Big Data, Bigger Opportunities: Plans and Preparedness for the Data Deluge,” surveyed 151 North American senior-level executives (see table for demograhics) at utilities with smart meter programs in place, and measures the perceptions of the business impact of “big data,” preparedness to handle data growth and plans to extract optimal business value from the collected data to better target, engage and serve utility customers.

“Oracle’s ‘Big Data, Bigger Opportunities’ report indicates that a vast majority of utility executives are working to enhance their ability to glean real intelligence from smart grid data-to ultimately create new opportunities to improve service reliability and deliver useful information to customers,” said Rodger Smith, Oracle Utilities’ senior vice president and general manager.

“Smart grid deployments are creating exponentially more data for utilities and giving them access to information they have never had before,” Smith said.

The study gauged utility executives’ (director level and above) perceptions on the business impact of big data; preparedness to handle data growth; and plans to extract optimal business value from this data to better target, engage with and serve customers.

“Oracle conducted this study because we wanted to find where the opportunities are and where the market is,” said Brad Williams, Oracle’s vice president of product management. “We discovered there are opportunities for business improvement in utility operations which includes data analytics.”

Study participants indicated that data is increasing by volume and variety. When asked what type of data their utilities are collecting through smart meters, the responses included outage, interval, voltage, tampering and diagnostic data (Figure 1).

In addition to smart meters, utilities indicated other sources are contributing to the data influx. Utilities collect data from outage/distribution management systems, customer data/feedback, alternative energy sources, such as rooftop photovoltaic, and advanced sensors, controls and grid healing elements (Figure 2).

Participating utilities said they are somewhat prepared to manage the overwhelming data, rating themselves a 6.7 on a scale from 1 to 10. But, 45 percent of responding utilities still struggle to report information to business managers as fast as they need it, and 50 percent report that they miss opportunities to deliver useful information to customers.

Utilities see a need to improve their ability to translate information into actionable intelligence and leverage data for strategic decision-making, and 64 percent say it is one of their top three priorities.

All the utilities represented in the survey have smart meter installations, however, only 46 percent have a meter data management system in place even though such a system is one of the keys to obtaining benefits of the meter data.

“Utilities can benefit from establishing enterprise information strategies, and investing in the systems and people needed to make better business decisions,” Smith said.

Utilities with smart meter programs said their biggest challenges are lack of talent to execute data analysis and limited processing speed.

“Utilities need data scientists,” Williams said. “They need someone on the inside to be a champion for data analytics.”

They need people who understand their business well enough to understand the data and how it can improve operations, but those individuals also must understand how data collection and IT works, he said.

The study reveals that in the next five years, utilities plan to leverage smart grid data to improve customer service through efforts such as delivering demand response programs, forecasting demands, complying with regulatory requirements and minimizing outages.

Although not all respondents shared how much their utilities will spend to move smart grid/smart metering forward, some utilities provided figures. Based on those figures, Oracle’s study said utilities with smart meter programs in place plan to spend an average of $178 per customer during the next five years.

Newton-Evans Research Co. Releases New Market Overview Reports

The Newton-Evans Research Co. has published a series of 18 electric power distribution market, two-page snapshot market summaries.

The reports include supplier listings, representative products and estimated market size for each topic, vendor market share estimates and market outlook through 2014.

Electric utilities accounted for nearly two-thirds of purchases of the medium-voltage product categories in this series.

Most of the included equipment and products were produced in the United States.

The reports use data obtained through secondary research, interviews with equipment and systems suppliers, industry consultants, the Department of Commerce and more than 200 earlier Newton-Evans survey-based studies.

Definitions, lists of market participants and their estimated 2011 revenue, 2011 market size range estimates, history and outlook of estimated spending changes and a market share assessment like Figure 1 are provided in each report.

Figure 1 illustrates the 2011 market share assessment of automatic circuit reclosers.

The Market Summary Series of more than 90 transmission and distribution (T&D) and related automation report topics provides an effective, low-cost approach for management to quickly obtain an assessment and overview of each industry segment’s key attributes, including 2011 estimates of U.S. market size for utilities by type and for industrials, key players and the near-term outlook for the segment.

Each snapshot includes estimates of U.S. market size, supplier market share and outlook through 2014 for these categories: air-insulated metal-clad switchgear, medium-voltage motor controllers, medium-voltage gas-insulated switchgear, automatic circuit reclosers, outdoor distribution circuit breakers (5-38 kV), load interrupter switchgear, overhead disconnect switches (15-38 kV), sectionalizers; mv09-fused cutouts, pad-mounted switchgear, submersible switchgear, bus duct and bus bar, substation class pad-mounted capacitors, current/instrument transformers, fault current limiters, fault current indicators and faulted circuit indicators, current limiting fuses and fuse links and surge arresters.

Other U.S. T&D market snapshot series include power transformers (11 market segment snapshots), protective relays (eight market segment snapshots) and substation automation components (13 market segment snapshots). The series released in July covers distribution automation in 12 market summaries.

IMS: Smart Grid Networking Market, Americas, will Grow to Nearly $1B by 2016

IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., forecasts the market for equipment supporting smart grid communications and networking to grow from $700 million in 2011 to nearly $950 million by 2016.

The growth is projected even as smart meter shipments are forecast to decline from 2012 onward in North America and general economic growth remains elusive.

The study, published in early July, outlines the opportunity for networking and communications hardware vendors in the smart grid.

In addition to analyzing the present and projecting the size and makeup of the networking hardware market, the report reviews current connectivity trends on the smart grid at the intelligent electronic device (IED level), including Ethernet in substations and feeders and IEC 61850 adoption.

Smart metering projects in the mid- to late 2000s propelled North America’s market for radios and other networking hardware-supporting feeder line tasks. Later, growth in distribution automation IED shipments furthered the trend, supporting opportunity for traditional serial radios, as well as a wide assortment of next-generation solutions. As of 2012, smart meter rollouts are slowing in North America, however, substation modernization, distribution automation and Latin America’s expected smart metering expansion will counter the slowing to offer substantial total growth of smart grid networking equipment markets in the Americas.

This analysis is drawn from IMS Research’s report “The Americas Market for Smart Grid Networking-2012.”

The report evaluates the present and near-future opportunity for suppliers of networking and communications hardware supporting automation of the smart grid in the Americas, as well as market shares of key suppliers.

Building on IMS Research’s experience in the distribution automation and smart meter markets, the market study investigates Ethernet and serial connectivity trends for IEDs, security concerns of utilities, and the status of IEC 61850 adoption in the substations and feeders.

“Smart metering is only beginning in Latin America, but perhaps more interestingly, in North America, utilities are seeing increased efforts from AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) solution providers and grid automation specialists to effectively integrate smart meter data and infrastructure into more sophisticated distribution automation tasks,” said Donald Henschel, senior analyst for IMS Research. “Distribution automation-enabled smart meter concentrators will hasten this process.”

The supplier environment for smart grid automation and networking is in a dynamic period, with major substation networking supplier RuggedCom recently purchased by Siemens, and smart grid mesh radio provider Tropos acquired by ABB.

Both ABB and Siemens offer deep catalogs of grid automation solutions, but their market presence in the Americas has not been as high as in other regional markets.

“These acquisitions of networking and communications specialists by global automation brands reveal an industry acknowledgement of networking as the next critical step to achieving the goals of the smart grid evolution,” Henschel said.

Growth is projected, but smart meter shipments are forecast to decline from 2012 forward.


Moscow Integrated Power Co. chooses Acronis to protect Russian power supply

Acronis, a provider of disaster recovery and data protection for physical, virtual and cloud environments, deployed the Acronis Backup & Recovery Advanced Server at the Moscow Integrated Power Co (MIPC).

The solution has been deployed on a distributed network of 17 branches across the territory of Moscow and is protecting user data for 7,000 MIPC employees.

Business continuity and the ability to restore network services with near-zero downtime are critical to MIPC and the local community. MIPC serves more than 6 million people within the Moscow area with their heating and hot water supply service.

Centralized management and monitoring reduces the margin for error and can help standardize increased protection for critical network services in all locations.

Iran, Iraq, Syria connect power grids

Iran is exporting electricity to Lebanon and Syria. Power transfer to these countries began in July.

Electricity export to Lebanon and Syria is taking place as part of a February agreement among energy ministers of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Power transfer to Lebanon and Syria will be carried out in two phases: 50 MW in the first phase and 200 MW in the second phase.

Government officials said Iran is capable of exporting 1,000 MW of power to Iraq. Syria also demanded 500 MW of electricity from Iran.

Iran exchanges electricity with Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, Nakhichevan, Turkey and Turkmenistan.

CPFL Energia picks eMeter for Brazilian smart meter rollout

CPFL Energia, the largest nonstate-owned electric energy company in Brazil, selected the eMeter EnergyIP meter data management platform.

EnergyIP has been part of the Siemens smart grid portfolio since the eMeter acquisition in January. CPFL selected IBM for consulting services to meet its smart metering data management and integration requirements.

The project is the first Brazilian implementation of a meter data management solution capable of supporting a full-scale, residential metering rollout for a large utility.

The project is part of CPFL’s Tauron smart grid initiative to improve its overall energy quality, operational performance and relationship with customers. The initiative includes smart metering, meter data management, outage management and mobile work force management.

During the project, IBM will serve as the EnergyIP system integrator and consult in governance, process design and best practices. IBM also will manage the planning, installation and configuration of the solution, testing, go-live support and initial assisted operation.

GE technology to double Vietnam transmission line capacity

General Electric Co. (GE) signed a $1.5 million equipment supply contract with the Power Transmission Co. No. 4, a unit of the National Power Transmission Corp. (NPT), to double Vietnam’s existing power capacity by upgrading the country’s national backbone transmission system.

GE’s series capacitor banks will be installed as part of the upgrade of the 500-kV Pleiku–Phu Lam transmission line to increase power capacity from 1,000 amps to 2,000 amps.

Under contract terms, GE will supply six series capacitor banks to NPT and provide on-site supervision for installation testing and commissioning. The project uses GE’s latest fuseless technology to enable a 100 percent increase in the current capacity of the existing transmission line and installed infrastructure.

GE will partner for the first time with a local corporation, 3C Co., to provide local content for the project.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank is financing the project. Shipping and installation of the capacitors at the three locations will begin in the second quarter of 2013. Commercial operation will begin in the third quarter of the year.

GE signed a memorandum of understanding in March 2011 with NPT for both companies to work together to increase Vietnam’s power transmission efficiency and expertise while reducing the risk of power shortages.

Consolidated Edison Subsidiary Launches Dynamic Information Portal

ConEdison Solutions (CES), a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison Inc., has launched a comprehensive information tool to help the firm’s channel partners better serve their commercial and industrial end users.

An energy services company based in Valhalla, N.Y., CES offers a secure, 24/7 Web portal called e-channel that allows channel partners to view and analyze a wide spectrum of energy and customer portfolio data.

This easily accessible information helps channel partners identify emerging opportunities for cost savings and other energy-related trends impacting their clients, thereby enhancing the value of the services they provide to their customers.

“Channel partners succeed by helping customers make the smartest possible energy management decisions,” said Jorge J. Lopez, president and CEO of CES. “Good decisions are driven by good and timely information, and e-channel gives channel partners the kind of data management they need to provide superior counsel on energy strategy.”

CES developed the offering in consultation with an advisory group of channel partners who recommended the types of information they would find most useful.

“The greatest benefit of the e-channel portal is its remarkable efficiency,” Lopez said. “Forward-thinking channel partners can rapidly use the information to analyze available options and promptly make well-informed suggestions for action by customers. It also helps the channel partners gain insight across their entire portfolio with ConEdison Solutions.”


Edmund O. Schweitzer III, president and CEO of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Inc., accepted the prestigious 2012 IEEE Medal in Power Engineering on June 30 during a Boston award ceremony honoring 26 top technologists.

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Inc. President and CEO Edmund O. Schweitzer III, center, accepts the 2012 IEEE Medal in Power Engineering from Peter W. Staecker, IEEE president-elect (left), and Gordon Day, IEEE president (right).

The Medal in Power Engineering, sponsored by the IEEE Industry Applications, Industrial Electronics, Power Electronics, and Power & Energy Societies, recognizes Schweitzer for leadership in revolutionizing the performance of electrical power systems with computer-based protection and control equipment.

IEEE Medals are the highest awards the IEEE presents on behalf of its board of directors. IEEE Medals embrace significant and broad IEEE interests and purposes. The IEEE Medal in Power Engineering was established in August 2008 to honor individuals for outstanding contributions to technology associated with the generation, transmission, distribution, application and use of electric power for the betterment of society.

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