Ready for 2020? Meter data management helps utilities prepare

Published: Tue 15 Oct 2013
A blog entry by Smart Grid Watch

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2020 is the target for meeting the EU's ambitious renewable energy goals -- and it's closer than you might think. Technology choices that European utilities make in the coming year, especially concerning meter data management, will help determine how well utilities can help achieve these goals.
At European Utility Week this year, Aaron De Yonker (Vice President of Products at eMeter, a Siemens business) will discuss some versatile MDM options that can help utilities adapt their operations and business processes to prepare for 2020 and beyond.
"Right now, European utilities are taxiing down the runway of trying to reach the 2020 goals. They're almost at the five-year countdown, which means they're entering the technology decision cycle," said De Yonker.
The 2020 goals include a mandate for EU utilities to deploy smart meters to 80% of customers. In March, an EU government report said current policies indicated that so far member nations are mostly on track to meet these targets -- although "current policies alone will be insufficient to trigger the required renewable energy deployment."
So how will utilities manage all that smart metering data?
"It's crucial that utilities choose MDM solutions that perform well across their entire service region and customer base, and still leave room to grow," said De Yonker. "And also, MDM will need to perform well with the business processes that are expected to exist in 2020. The overall smart grid strategy only works when data is flowing in a reliable, instantaneous way."
Scale is a big part of this challenge. So far, most European utilities have been pilot testing smart meters, but have not yet deployed them widely. De Yonker recommends that utilities closely examine how scalable an MDM platform is before committing. For instance, eMeter's MDM platform, EnergyIP, recently was tested and certified as performing well at a scale of 50 million meters.
But even utilities that have not yet widely deployed smart meters and MDM systems can achieve some comparable smart grid benefits. For instance, many standard meters record interval and other data. If this data exists, it can be collected during the meter reading process. This data can then be uploaded into cloud-based MDM and analytics solutions, which require no capital expenditure or extra IT management capabilities. (Currently eMeter is preparing to launch a cloud-based version of EnergyIP and its associated analytics.)
"Meter-to cash (billing enhancements) was a key initial impetus driving smart grid technology deployment, but meter-to-insight is the next value chain," said De Yonker. "This data can help utilities diagnose technical and nontechnical losses on the grid; identify assets that need to be optimized, upgraded or retired; and engaging consumers and constituents so they can play an active role in achieving the 2020 mandates."
EnergyIP: Advanced Metering at Full Scale, will be presented by Aaron De Yonker at EUW on Oct. 17