Many utilities are responding to the Energy Policy Act 2005 as an opportunity to install advanced metering system-wide. Along with that come mountains of data as utilities switch from reading meters once a month to at least once an hour for all their customers. Meter data management has become the first investment that leading utilities consider when planning for a merger or an investment in advanced metering.
UtiliPoint formed AMI MDM to provide an international forum for utilities and regulators to consider any and all options for managing the meter data and the interfaces between critical utility IT systems. Almost all utilities have installed or will install advanced meter communications from more than one vendor. To reduce the risk of interfacing with billing, GIS, outage management, customer service, and workforce management systems, utilities are looking to meter data management to stand as a smart buffer between the various advanced metering systems in the field and these key software systems.
UtiliPoint announced the formation of AMI MDM immediately prior to the two conferences on demand response in Washington DC in late January, namely the Demand Responce Co-ordinating Committee (DRCC) Town Hall meeting on demand response and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) technical conference on advanced metering and demand response. The market reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. To date, seven sponsors have signed with UtiliPoint to sponsor the organisation, and utility sign-ups and enquiries are continuing at a steady pace.
The sponsors to date are eMeter, DCSI, SPL, Cellnet, ADS, LODESTAR and Itron. The key to AMI MDM is that utilities, regulators, ISOs, RTOs, and consumer advocacy groups make all the decisions: what to focus on in the committees, best practices, educational outreach, real world problems and solutions. Vendors and consultants are welcome to participate (and sponsor), but AMI MDM is designed to function just like the market, where utilities decide what to purchase with input from regulators, ISOs, RTOs, and consumer advocacy groups.
AMI MDM is much more than a working group. Utilities can share their experience with advanced metering and integration, discuss ways to implement price responsive demand response, dispel myths of what won’t work or what is sure to work. This is especially important for an evolving market segment such as meter data management.
NEW APPLICATIONS FOR ADVANCED METERING
Utilities are developing new ways to use the interval data available for all customers. Each and every one of these new applications will require blending the meter data with other data, such as weather data, weather forecasts, GIS data, market prices, and outages. The development of these applications has just begun. If we think back to the days of early cell (mobile) phones, say 1991, they were clunky, expensive to use, and very few people had them. People didn’t understand why you would want to have one, and why you couldn’t just wait until you got home to call. Today, 15 years later, most families, rich or poor, have more than one cell phone, and we use them for much more than phone calls — text messaging, e-mail, pictures, browsing the internet, looking up phone numbers and maps, to name a few functions.
UtiliPoint expects a similar process to occur with advanced metering, and most of these new applications will be catalysed and enabled by the meter data management system. AMI MDM will provide utilities with assistance in successfully fielding meter data management, advanced metering, demand response, and operational efficiency applications that have been thought of today, as well as the new applications in the pipeline. AMI MDM has established no absolute requirements. Successful deployment of advanced metering and meter data management is not about minimum requirements, but rather about thinking outside the box.