Wednesday, 5 November 2008

"Both positive and negative incentives can be used to involve the end user" Special

The recent automatic electric meter installation by Sweden's Vattenfall for supporting the development of a secure grid is expected to result in better control over the electricity network and significant cost savings.

According to Telvent, the IT company which supplied and managed the automatic remote electric meter reading system for the project, an AMI system together with the rest of the Smart Grid Solution (SGS) suite will decrease operation cost, reduce frequency and duration of outages, improve customer service and satisfaction, optimise grid investment strategies and finally, prepare for the future where full customer involvement in voluntary usage profile management, peak shaving and energy demand side management will be a reality.

In an interview with, Ignacio Gonzalez-Dominguez, executive vice president of Telvent's Energy division provided an insight into how this project supports the development of a secure grid as well as additional services for end clients, ways to attract the participation of the end user and much more. Excerpts: Telvent acted as the main meter supplier by providing 600,000 of the 850,000 total meters, and allowed Vattenfall to bill all of its clients through remote reading of electric consumption. Can you take us through the key observations? Can you elaborate on how this project supports the development of a secure grid as well as additional services for end clients?

Ignacio Gonzalez-Dominguez: The role that Telvent accepts is to help utilities to transform their current grid into one that distributes electricity more efficiently and securely, while meeting the continuously changing demands of the customer base, all in a sustainable way.

We believe that Vattenfall, by executing this modern AMI project, has demonstrated an aggressive strategy to take enhanced levels of control of their electricity network, to realise significant cost savings in delivering their services on their network and to improve levels of customer service and satisfaction. The AMI system is delivering valuable actionable information (not just data) to other back-office systems that will improve network operations, network planning and outage management functions in the utility.

In the early stages of operation of the AMI system, Vattenfall is in a position to continue moving towards a true Smart Grid environment. These next steps promise to further reduce operating costs, improve utility network reliability and customer satisfaction. As an example, Vattenfall is able to use the load profiles delivered by the new system for demand response programmes that will influence consumption patterns in their customer base. The system provides Vattenfall, in addition to the obvious metered usage data, power quality information and other "events" such as tampering and diagnostics. Further, the system's ability to support new emerging technologies such as home area networks promises opportunities for new and innovative services for end customers.

One distinctive value that Telvent AMI customers can leverage in the future would be related to combining of real-time meter data with other advanced operational applications such as Outage Management (OMS) and Distribution Management (DMS) and even integrated with Telvent's flagship OASyS SCADA product to acquire, validate and analyse operations data and manage grid behaviour in real-time. With the complete suite of applications, Telvent's customers can develop grid investment strategies to minimise frequency and duration of outages, provide high levels of customer service and improve overall customer satisfaction with the utility. Which according to you is an optimal way of inducing a change in consumers' usage habits, potentially resulting in lower energy costs and achieving energy efficiency gains?

Ignacio Gonzalez-Dominguez: It is clear that demand response optimisation is needed to achieve the levels of sustainability and reliability we expect as a society. The key factor in any optimisation strategy is the end user, who will respond to various and relatively (with respect utility asset investment) short term financial incentives by modifying habits and routine in the use of their personal and commercial electric power.

Of course, both positive and negative incentives can be used in concert to attract the participation of the end user. Society generally is interested in a sustainable and secure world so the efforts of the utility industry in playing their part through marketing programmes will become common-place in the years to come. It is not a simple `one size fits all' situation– residential programmes can be done along the lines of one size fits all, but commercial and industrial programs can not. Can you elaborate on the basic differences for Demand Response programs in various environments?

Ignacio Gonzalez-Dominguez: Demand response programmes cannot be designed with the same criteria for both residential and C&I customers. The residential DR programmes are going to be largely influenced by the availability of new HAN (Home Area Network) devices that will allow integrators such as Telvent to make new intelligent load management applications. C&I customers, however, will not be able to leverage these applications to the same degree since their loads are mostly critical and/or constant. Very specific load management programs will be needed for C&I customers. Recently, it was indicated that less than one percent of all commercial and industrial companies use advanced technology to measure and manage energy spend, whereas nearly 100 percent use advanced technology to measure and manage telecommunications spend in the US. How do you assess the situation as far as the maturity level of Advanced Metering in Total Energy Management is concerned?

Ignacio Gonzalez-Dominguez: It is a fact that today telecommunication and information technology costs of any business are tightly monitored and dynamic in nature as the competition for these services is wide spread and new incentives are being offered continuously. Businesses are hungry for more communication with their customers and are anxious to use more and more IT to create real-time business decisions. Even the very utilities we are speaking of here, like banks and public administrations, manage their communications and IT spends for gathering, distributing, archiving, integrating and optimising their customer data.

It is clear that this can be a source of competitive advantage for them. Many utilities are now realising we have the technology to allow us to focus on energy spends with respect to cost, efficiency and ultimately competitive advantage. It is logical to think that bi-directional communication with your customers and the ability to optimise energy generation and distribution to reduce operating costs, all in real-time, is going to be a significant strategic advantage for the progressive utility.

Intelligent Demand Response for Electricity Summit 2009

Intelligent Demand Response for Electricity Summit 2009 is scheduled to be held in Amsterdam on 28-29 January.

For more information, click here:


Abbie Badcock ,
Smart Electric News,

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