Dancing with data at Metering America


Meir Shargal,
Capgemini Global
Utility Practice
Miami, FL, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — March 23, 2008  – “The importance is not in getting the data but in doing the right analysis on it to achieve the benefits,” said Meir Shargal, principal at Capgemini’s Global Utility Practice, reviewing the move to operational smart metering in a pre-conference seminar at the 10th Metering, Billing/CIS America.

Five years ago it was reasonable to think of the meter as purely part of the utility’s cash register – the front end sensor that provided the information required to create a bill. Today utilities are looking to use the meter as a key sensor and control in the next generation smart grid to monitor the health of the network, manage power flow to homes and businesses, and help customers use power more wisely.

“Operational smart metering is the next step in metering,” said Shargal. “It includes the ability to receive alarms and alerts from the meters without having to poll them in near real time, and allows the meter to store far more information that might be required on a daily basis, so the utility’s engineering team can pull data to analyze events after the fact with far more detail.”

To support future requirements, such as disconnects, direct load control, power quality monitoring, smart home gateway, etc., not only the technology has to change, but also the organization in the utility has to change to support these increased requirements, said Shargal, adding that more than 80 processes in the typical utility have been identified as being impacted by operational smart metering.

In a second pre-conference seminar David Hughes, senior infrastructure engineer at American Water, and Don Schlenger, vice president of RW Beck, reviewed best practices for AMI selection, acquisition and implementation for water utilities.

Hughes and Schlenger estimate that around half of water meters in North America are now AMI/AMR, with major driving forces for these including cost control or reduction in labor intense areas, water loss reduction and revenue recovery, customer service issues, and technolphilia or “meter envy”.

The project, being carried out as an AWWA Research Foundation project, will result in the production of a manual on best practices, which is due to be completed in draft form around mid-year.

Smart Energy International’s 10th Metering, Billing/CIS America formally opens today with a keynote by Chris Bennett, executive vice president and chief strategy, policy and business improvement officer at Florida Power & Light (FPL), the event’s host utility. The plenary address will be given by Edward Lu, head of advanced projects at Google on the topic of clean energy production. Other highlights include a high level panel discussion on making tactical decisions with the wealth of customer data and sessions on transporting and housing meter data, as well as the Water Meter Summit.

Metering, Billing/CIS America 2009 is taking place under the title of “Dancing with data: The metering and customer mega-event for smart electricity, water and gas utilities” at the Hilton Miami Downtown in Miami, Florida.