Endesa’s smart metering rollout


By Rocío Millán Navarro

Around six years ago, Endesa identified the need to apply smart metering to its domestic customers (supplies with a contract power less than or equal to 15 kW), as it had already done previously with all of its industrial customers, allowing them to manage their hourly consumption efficiently, flexibly and precisely.

Since then, Endesa has worked proactively in developing this proprietary system with the aim not only of meeting the needs identified in other European markets and future technology trends, but also in complying with the new regulatory framework requiring smart metering for all domestic customers in Spain by the end of 2018, as well as the principles of energy efficiency and sustainability.

After conducting initial tests with existing technologies and due to the lack of a satisfactory standard solution, Endesa decided to specify all functions and technical details of the future system, including the meters at the customers’ premises, the concentrators, the equipment installed in the transformer stations, power line communications via the electrical network and the central system. Based on these definitions, a very detailed specification was made of all of the components to be developed subsequently. In 2007 and throughout 2008, this solution was successfully tested in a pilot of 12,000 customers in Andalusia and Catalonia.

With these pilot tests, Endesa confirmed that smart metering remote reads, power control, reprogramming due to tariff changes, remote disconnects and reconnections are possible, thus speeding up all the field operations of the commercial cycle to be performed at the customer’s home.

This satisfactory trial was complemented by the extensive experience in the automatic metering field of its new primary shareholder, Enel, which for several years has operated an automatic metering system with more than 32 million domestic customers in Italy.

Endesa and Enel leveraged the synergies of the corporate group formed by applying Enel’s knowledge and experience in the field which, in addition to the broad technology experience of Endesa, guarantees success in the joint development and implementation of a new generation automatic metering system that fully complies with Spanish legislation and the business requirements, including cutting-edge technologies in terms of both components and features.

Today, Endesa and Enel have completed the phases of defining and developing the final solution, which is a new generation technology based on Enel’s Telegestore in Italy, a unique smart metering solution in operation with more than 30 million customers. This solution will be rolled out, fully meeting the requirements contained in Royal Decree 1110/2007 and the orders ITC/3022/2007 and ITC/3860/2007, which regulate the progressive deployment of smart metering up to the end of 2018, also paving the way for future regulatory changes.

This smart metering system will be integrated into the existing commercial system of Endesa, thus minimising the changes and impacts on this system, since it is a modular solution with configurable interfaces which are independent of the systems used in the company. It is thus ensured that it is compatible with the current commercial and field-based systems of Endesa.

In simple terms, Endesa’s smart metering system works as an automatic contractor which, among other things, performs the functions of reading, power control and remote cut-offs and reconnections of all of its domestic customers. At the same time, the solution allows for the future incorporation of value-added services for the customer and forms the basis for a smart grid.

Furthermore, another innovation of Endesa’s project is that the Enel BPSK-based field-proven PLC protocol applied in the system, is about to be opened by Enel, thus converting it into a standard which can be applied by other utilities. Endesa and Enel are thereby promoting the creation of a reliable and cost efficient standard, which will be applied in millions of meters in Italy and Spain.

Thanks to the synergies between Endesa and Enel, and the strong teamwork developed, an optimised technology solution has been obtained which is extremely cost efficient and competitive, thus also reducing the implementation time of the project, which is only 5 to 6 years at present – 3 years less than initially forecasted and also 3 years less than the regulatory requirement.

In general terms, Endesa’s smart metering system will allow major improvements to be made in the field of customer relations and the optimisation of energy efficiency and sustainability. At the same time, it offers precise in situ readings, enhanced commercial service thanks to operations being performed remotely, immediately and without customer intervention, and will contribute to reducing distribution losses. Finally, it will allow customers to possess more and higher quality information to allow them to optimise their energy consumption.

The proactive joint work has allowed Enel and Endesa to leverage on both experiences and know how to design and develop an innovative smart metering solution, including advanced functionalities to make it ready for the upcoming deployment of smart grids.

The rollout of smart metering impacts many key areas of Endesa’s business and is an extremely difficult task due to the high volume of operations involved in changing meters, installations and contracts of 13 million customers and installing 140,000 concentrators at transformer stations. In order to complete the plan on time, a dedicated project team of almost 100 people working full-time on the rollout has been set up. In total, the project will create about 2,000 new jobs in the Spanish energy sector. According to the project plan, remote operations will start on day one of the project, and in a period of 6 years (2010-2015), Endesa will manage all of its 13 million domestic customers via its new smart metering system.