Dominica Electricity Services Limited (DOMLEC) is located in the Commonwealth of Dominica, an island nation in the Caribbean. DOMLEC services an estimated population of 69,775 of the island of 291 square miles. As part of customer service and operational excellence initiatives, DOMLEC is deploying Elster’s EnergyAxis advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system with the goal of lowering operating costs, reducing technical and non-technical losses, and improving quality of service and reliability.

Business case benefits are as follows:

  • Outage management – Dominica sits in the Atlantic Ocean’s “Hurricane Alley” and these storms can result in large scale outages. DOMLEC anticipates that data provide by the AMI system will help it restore power to customers more efficiently. Data will be used to target service restoration to critical service connections and eliminate problems like a police station or other important community institution being left without electricity after power has been restored to other customers nearby.
  • System optimization – DOMLEC engineers will use data provided by the AMI system to analyze loading on specific transformers and sections of line to pinpoint problems before they occur. AMI data will also help DOMLEC engineering staff choose locations for capacitors, decide where to increase the capacity of feeders, change locations of transformers, and take other actions to improve the voltage profile of the entire distribution system.
  • Technical loss reduction – DOMLEC will use AMI data to help with system modelling, asset placement, and help engineers spot system anomalies and cure potential problems before they arise.
  • Prepaid metering – 20 percent of DOMLEC customers have prepaid metering representing 10 percent of revenue. Currently prepaid meters are not read or visited except to perform routine consumption-exception checks. When integrated with prepayment metering the AMI system will provide necessary information to better manage the prepayment customers.
  • Service calls – The AMI system will provide remote connect and disconnect capabilities allowing DOMLEC to respond to service requests quickly, saving the cost of a service call. The AMI system will also allow DOMLEC to recheck a meter reading as soon as a customer calls with a question.
  • Damage claim reduction – Customer damage claims are often associated with power interruptions and voltage problems. With data provided by the AMI system DOMLEC will have the ability to report voltage at the meter, helping to determine the validity of damage claims. AMI data will also help DOMLEC detect system problems before they occur, resulting in fewer damage claims.
  • Vegetation management – Vegetation management is one of DOMLEC’s top operating expenses. The AMI system will be integrated with the Geographic Information System to support more efficient vegetation management. Statistical data showing momentary outages on a section of line or meter can indicate a tree limb hitting a wire. Data will be used to plan trimming in the affected area.

For the future, DOMLEC’s long range plan is to implement grid automation as its budget allows. The terrain makes it problematic to get to many places on the island and the distribution automation system can dramatically cut costs.