Integrating outage management and meter data management: What three utilities are learning

Published: Wed 02 Apr 2014
A blog entry by Smart Grid Watch

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Keeping the lights on is easier when utilities know exactly where, and why, they're not on. Modern smart meter data management systems can integrate real-time field information into a utility's outage management system. This speeds the reporting of, and response to, power outages. It also helps confirms power restoration.

Three U.S. utilities -- Burbank Water and Power, Black Hills Corp., and Jacksonville Electric Authority -- are integrating their outage management systems with EnergyIP, the leading MDM platform by eMeter, a Siemens Business. These utilities all face unique circumstances related to outages, such as terrain, weather patterns and distances that must be traversed by field repair crews.

But MDMS-OMS integration is helping these utilities accomplish more than quickly and efficiently resolving outages. This process is also helping them learn how to adapt to an ever-shifting business environment.

These utilities have shared their integration experience in a new case study, Outage Management: How three utilities are enhancing their ability to detect and respond to outages using EnergyIP.

Typically, utilities install an MDMS with an initial focus on meter-to-cash billing enhancements. However, an MDMS can form the basis of a service architecture that integrates many mission-critical systems. Integrating an MDMS with an OMS is a natural early step in this evolution, with clearly demonstrable payoffs.

Burbank Water and Power envisioned such comprehensive integration right from the start of deploying EnergyIP -- but outage management is one of the first ways they're integrating the MDMS into other systems.

At JEA, enhanced customer satisfaction is a key motivation for MDMS-OMS integration. Brian Novak, JEA's Program Manager for Advanced Metering and Field Management Systems, noted that outages are "one of the few times customers really care about their relationship with their utility, aside from when they get their bill. Outages are when we are most likely to create dissatisfied customers, if we aren't conscientious about how we communicate with them."

As utilities seek to update their operations and business models, some types of projects, such as MDMS-OMS integration, can be especially powerful triggers for an organizations mindset shift. When utilities begin to look to the MDMS to deliver more than meter-to-cash benefits, they finally begin to perceive its full potential as a smart grid platform.

Read more at Smart Grid Watch Blog.