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GCN : January 2014
CASE STUDY SITUATIONAL AWARENESS 28 GCN JANUARY 2014 • GCN.COM In 2009 the Sacramento Munic- ipal Utility District (SMUD), the nation's sixth largest com- munity-owned electric utility, began a $350 million upgrade of its power distribution system to introduce smart-grid technology from transmission lines to cus- tomer meters. A new Distribution Control Cen- ter was opened, a wireless mesh network to support automated metering was built out, more than 600,000 smart meters were in- stalled and an advanced operating system was implemented to sup- port new supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) equip- ment in substations and lines. The improved efficiency and reliability of the system is expected to save from $8 million to $15 million an- nually in power-supply costs and produce a return on investment in about seven years. But the utility found that it takes more than automated equipment to make a power grid smart. By 2011 SMUD personnel realized they needed a way to ana- lyze the data being produced and to understand the impact of the new technology being deployed, said Michael Greenhalgh, SMUD's smart grid project director. "In the back of our minds, we knew it was coming," Greenhalgh said of the need to correlate ad- ditional data. Sensors in the auto- mated system monitor from three to 10 variables at each point, from transformers to customer me- ters, and the number of points in the system being monitored quadrupled to about 7.5 million. The utility launched a Situational Awareness and Visual Intelligence program to help make sense of the new grid. "The problem is not that they don't have the information," said Steve Ehrlich, a senior vice presi- dent at Space-Time Insight, which provides situational awareness tools. "The problem is that they didn't have any way to use it." The company's Situational In- telligence Server (SI Server) was installed in SMUD's new control center to correlate data from dis- parate sources that included tech- nical operational systems, busi- ness systems and outside sources such as weather information. It uses geospatial and visual analyt- ics software to produce charts, graphs and reports. Used initially by SMUD's op- erations department, the ability of the SI Server to correlate so many types of historical and real-time data in various formats attracted the attention of other depart- ments, Greenhalgh said. "Once we started showing this off to the rest of the business units, it really took off." FROM SMART METERS TO ELECTRIC VEHICLES The project began with the instal- lation of smart meters from Landis & Gyr, which SMUD said would "lay the foundation" for the smart grid. The meters allow automatic transmission of data on energy use, providing the utility with real- time data about demand and out- ages and allowing customers to track and manage their consump- tion online. In addition to allowing the meters to be read automatical- ly without sending meter readers into the field, they also can enable remote control of household ap- pliances over the Internet. There was an initial test of about 80,000 meters in Sacramento and in some outlying parts of the county. Full deployment began in 2011 and the rollout was complete by April 2012. Additional components also were being integrated into the system. The advanced operat- ing system allows automatic sectionalizing and restoration of the system, and it can enable the The Sacramento Municipal Utility District upgraded its power distribution system with smart technology, but then needed a way to understand all of the data being generated How Sacramento made sense of smart grid data BY WILLIAM JACKSON