[#SmartGrid スマートグリッド] スマートメータに要求される機能要件: ITベンダーが寄与できるエリアの明確化に=>

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Web Serviceの必要性を訴えているのが興味深い。

A Smart Meter Must Be More Than A Price Signal

Most of what is being offered today as smart metering is mature automatic meter reading (AMR) technology which, in some cases, has additional functionality (e.g., time of use (TOU) metering, service status (on/off) monitoring and reporting, remote disconnect, etc.).  While the newest generation of AMR devices represents substantially more advanced technology than the 100+ year old, electromechanical meter, it is pretty much yesterday’s not tomorrow’s technology.  The industry conversation about smart metering focuses on meters that will provide customers with and base utility billing on accurate, time-of-use price signals with the expectation that customers will greatly reduce and more carefully schedule their energy consumption in ways that will achieve a panoply of goals most of which are more immediately beneficial to the electric utility than to the consumer.  Utility experience suggests that better information on energy consumption and pricing can yield some benefits resulting from changes in consumer behavior.  Much more is required, and much more is possible.  What will be required for a truly Smart Grid is something substantially different and better, a quantum leap, not an incremental evolution of AMR. 

What qualifications do I have to express an opinion on Smart Meters?  I have been involved in electric utility planning, operations and management throughout my 35 year career including assisting electric utilities and electric utility customers with issues related to the metering and pricing of electricity.  I was turnaround CEO for an automatic meter reading technology company, Util-LINK LLC, in Nashville, Tennessee from 1999 through 2001.  I spent the next five years at the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative coordinating the application of electronics, information and telecommunications technologies for electric and telco utilities.  I have worked for the past three years at an industry leading smart grid software vendor.  I am a active member of Utilimetrics and of the Gridwise Alliance.  You are welcome to review my curriculum vitae on LinkedIN.

I have for many years worked closely and successfully with almost all of the AMR vendors.  They are fine companies who serve their customers well.  What I have to say in this post should not be taken as denigrating their products or services in any way.  Rather, my commentary is about what I believe that the state of the art must be in smart metering in the context of what will be necessary for a Smart Grid.  The future holds dramatically different motivations, justifications, and requirements for smart metering.  Like Yogi Berra said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

The best smart metering technology that is commercially available today is really mature automatic meter reading (AMR) technology which, in some cases, has some additional functionality (e.g., time of use (TOU) metering, service status (on/off) monitoring and reporting, remote disconnect, etc.).  Most relies upon proprietary, circuit switched telecommunications with limited bandwidth and considerable latency.  Most AMR communications is primarily one-way (i.e., inbound) with limited capabilities for full two way communications.  Most of these enhanced AMR systems are incompatible with each other (i.e., endpoint devices or operating platforms cannot be mixed and matched in the same utility without a lot of effort and headaches).  The AMR systems which utilize power line communications usually cannot even co-exist on the same electric distribution lines.  The newest generation of AMR devices represents a substantially more advanced technology than the 100+ year old, electromechanical meter, but it is pretty much yesterday’s technology, not tomorrow’s.  I believe that what will be required for the Smart Grid is something substantially different and better, a quantum leap, not an incremental evolution of AMR.

So, what should a smart meter do?  The industry conversation about smart metering seems to focus primarily on meters that will provide customers with and base utility billing on accurate, time-of-use price signals with the expectation that customers will reduce and/or more carefully schedule their energy consumption in ways that will achieve a panoply of goals . . . reduce carbon emissions, allow for better utilization of existing electric utility assets, defer the need for additional generation/transmission/distribution assets, improve reliability, efficiency and economy, transfer market risk from shareholders to customers, protect national security, and many more.  Clearly, empirical evidence suggests that better information on energy consumption and pricing can yield some benefits resulting from changes in consumer behavior.  Even so, few customers will be willing or able to develop the expertise to interpret complex energy pricing and consistently manage their energy consumption to achieve their own economic and other goals, much less those of their electric utility.  I believe that a smart meter much do much more than provide a price signal. So does US Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, who told the audience at Grid Week in DC in September that consumers need an “easy button” to accomplish their goals.

What should a Smart Meter do?  There are several basic requirements.

1. A smart meter must be an intelligent electronic device (IED).

A Smart Meter needs to do everything that the traditional electronic meter can do electronically . . . monitor, record and report electric energy consumption.  And, it must be able to do it by time of day.  And it may need to provide consumption and pricing and data to the consumer.  But, it needs to do a lot more if it is going to work in a truly Smart Grid.  When I think of a smart electronic device, I tend to think in terms of a smart phone.  It is not an electronic replacement for my old rotary dial, wired to the wall, dumb phone.  And it is not a smart phone because it can tell me exactly what I have spent or am spending on my phone service.  It is a smart phone because it does a variety of things that I want to do no matter where I am.  It is a mobile communications and computing device with ever increasing, customizable applications.  It can even operate as a remote control.  Neither should a smart meter simply be an electronic replacement for the monolithic, 100+ year old, electromechanical monitoring device that is affixed to the exterior of the consumer’s premises.  Technology offers so much more, and so much more is needed to achieve a smart grid.  If a utility is going to spend several hundred dollars per customer to deploy smart meters, why not take full advantage of electronics, telecommunications and information technology?  Put in an iMeter!

A smart meter must be able to provide the utility and the consumer with information about the quality of service, not just the price and quantity.  The quality of service to a consumer includes on/off status, blinks, voltage, flicker, power factor, harmonics.  Furthermore, whether the utility plans to rely upon the consumer or upon automated energy management systems, it will be desirable if not necessary to segregate the monitoring, analysis and control of consumption between among the various appliance and other devices on the premises. 

A smart meter must also be able to monitor, analyze and act upon other information besides consumption quantity and price.  Some customers will almost certainly want to make energy management decisions based upon other criteria in addition to or instead of price.  They may want to minimize the carbon footprint resulting from their electric energy purchases.  They may want to schedule their energy consumption to take maximum advantage of the availability of renewable energy (e.g. allow discretionary appliances to run only when the incremental energy on the grid is wind?).  They might want the utility to know where they have parked their plug in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) away from home so that the consumption and bill can be allocated correctly.

It’s unlikely that most or even many consumers will have the expertise, ability or even willingness to spend much time and effort monitoring and managing their electric energy consumption (and distributed generation / storage!).  They will want a black box, and “easy button,” that can automatically monitor, analyze and control their energy consumption to achieve their goals.  And their own goals may be more important than price.  Their own goals will not likely be, implicitly or explicitly, to optimize the distribution grid or minimize shareholder risk or even to reduce consumption or cost. 

Smart meters will need to be able to interact with the utility, the consumer and even third party devices and systems that the consumer may use (e.g.,  energy management systems, distributed generation / storage devices, power quality protection, etc.).  These IEDs will need to be remotely programmable so as to allow for the implementation of new features and functions that will be needed in the future that are may not be obvious now, or that might become available through new technologies and applications.

2. A smart meter must us two-way, broadband Internet communication.

This is the 21st Century, the Internet Age.  All data is digital, and all digital data will ultimately be handled by packet switched, TCP/IP communications over a mosaic of wired, wireless and fiber broadband networks.  This is high speed, big bandwidth, instantaneous, two-way communications.  And it has to be able to communicate in real time with the utility, with the consumer and with other devices and systems that the utility or consumer elects to use.

If a video game (e.g., Wii) or a smart phone or a digital video recorder or a streaming movie player box (e.g., NetFlix’s Roku) can communicate this way via the Internet, shouldn’t a crucial element like a Smart Meter be able to? Anything less is not taking full advantage of the state of the art in technology.  This means IP addressable so that the utility and its systems as well as the consumer and his or her systems can access it from anywhere.  It needs to be an extension of the Internet.  It should not rely upon proprietary, circuit switched communications.  And it should not be limited to only the telecommunications network(s) owned or controlled by the utility.

3. A smart meter must be incorporated into a meter data management agent (MDMA).

This is the service oriented architecture (SOA) of smart metering.  A truly smart meter will be able to collect, analyze and act upon large quantities of live data from both the utility and the consumer (and maybe from other sources as well).  This live data will be useful if not essential for a wide variety of electric utility functions . . . planning, operations, billing, customer service, etc.  This requires real-time control system capabilities and interfaces.  This isn’t your father’s AMR metering and billing software.  It is an advanced meter data management agent. 

4. A smart meter must be interoperable with every other device on the Smart Grid.

This goes way beyond the smart meters being able to interface / integrate with the other electric utility software and systems through an industry standard interface or SOA.  It involves being able to handle a variety of smart meters from different vendors in mix and match combinations throughout the electric utility.  In the Smart Grid there may be a variety of energy and energy related service providers who not only need access to the meter but may actually provide their own metering and energy management devices.  Consumers may purchase their own energy management systems that use distributed metering throughout the premises.  Appliances may come with their own metering and energy management devices built in. 

5. Web services

Many if not most smart eter capabilities need to be accessible via web browser.  The consumer will no doubt want to be able to access their data and take action remotely, want to be able to do it 24/7/365, and want to do it whether they are at home or elsewhere.  An in-home display device connected to a single utility owned meter will not be enough.  On the other hand, it is way too much.  Consumers already have PCs, smart phones, online media centers.  Why do they need or even want yet another device, particularly one that is wired or otherwise confined to the premises?  They less and less carry separate phones, PDAs, cameras, music/video players, GPS, books and instead carry a smart device that gets to all of this via the Internet.  Ditto for their smart meter.                                             

So, where do you purchase a Smart Meter that meets all of the above requirements?  Unfortunately, I do not know of one, at least not one that fully realizes all or even most of the requirements that I have described.  However, there are several existing vendors who provide a smarter meter that does much more than an electronic equivalent of the electromechanical meter, and more than an enhanced AMR device with time of use pricing.  And most of them along with a lot of new market entrants are planning to develop and provide a smart meter that is much more like what I have described.  If you are looking for a smart metering solution for your smart grid deployment, I have several pieces of advice.

First, if a utility has not already locked into a technology choice for metering, they should wait a bit.  They should concentrate on applying advanced technology to optimize their distribution grids with IEDs, digital communications and state of the art ERP, CIS, E&O and other software systems.  In parallel, they should continue to investigate and evaluate other utilities’ smart grid and smart metering activities.  As they make smart meter plans, they should be careful to work with vendors that have cogent, documented plans to migrate to a full realization of the requirements that I describe above.  And test them out with pilot projects rather than leap with both feet into a system-wide deployment.

The announcement on last week of the 100 USDOE ARRA Smart Grid Stimulus Investment Grants provides an ideal source list.  Watch what each of these are doing and learn from their experience, good and bad.  You can find the winners at Smart Grid Stimulus Investment Grant Winners 

If a utility has already deployed a new AMR system, or can’t wait to do so, then it needs to be prepared to augmented or even replace in the near future by better technology solutions that incorporate more of the functionality that I have described herein.  Electric utilities must in general they be prepared to upgrade incrementally to new technology much sooner than has historically been the case for utility capital investments.  While the already deployed AMR and other devices may continue to be in working order for 35 years, available technology will be so much better that they will be obsolete.  Competitors will be using it and customers will be expecting if not demanding it. Fortunately, if the utility is careful to do business with vendors who are firmly committed to interoperability over broadband Internet, it will be easier and easier to mix and match smart metering and smart grid solutions. 

My favorite, real-world point of reference for my view on smart meters is Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative in Bastrop, Texas.  CEO Mark Rose, and his staff have the best vision and plans for a smart grid of any electric utility that I am aware of.  They fairly recently completed a 100% deployment of an AMR system at a cost of millions of dollars.  As they contemplated what will be required for the Smart Grid, they decided to completely replace this inadequate solution with a truly smart meter technology.  Their plans are summarized in the following excerpt from their recent application for USDOE ARRA Smart Grid Stimulus Investment Grant funding:


          Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative is seeking $18.8 million in grant funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The funding will allow the cooperative to complete the next phase of its Sustainable Grid initiative.

          In 2010, we will start upgrading the existing 2 way metering system for all 80,000 meters, introducing features such as

            * advanced meters capable of self reporting outages
            * a wireless and fiber communications network
            * in-home wireless devices that will allow members to read their meter, understand their load and know the real time cost of their consumption
            * a Web portal, which will provide every member access to the grid via the Internet
            * the cooperative will begin to implement an energy conservation and demand response program that will encourage members to set up energy networks to manage their electric load”

Bluebonnet has entered into agreements with Silver Spring Networks for Smart Meters and smart meter data management,  and with Home Area Networks (HAN) and Control4 for the communications with their customers.  They utilize Milsoft software for engineering analysis, outage management and IVR.  They use SAP for ERP/CIS.  Their vision and plans for a Smart Grid go way beyond most of what I am seeing reported in the trade press.  I think that they are on the right track.

What do you think?

 

 

Written by Steve Collier | Nov 02, 2009

Posted via email from Ippei’s @CloudNewsCenter info database

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