SCE files AMI patent


Paul de Martini,
SCE Vice President
and leader of
Edison SmartConnect
Rosemead, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — September 15, 2008 – Southern California Edison (SCE) has taken the “precautionary step” of filing a patent application for the various elements of its advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) project with the U.S. Patent Office, and is developing a license agreement to enable other parties to use these.

On it website SCE explains that in utilizing a systems engineering approach to identify the business needs and develop the systems requirements for its smart metering program – named Edison SmartConnect – the first step is to develop “use cases”. A use case “results from the application of a rigorous method for identifying necessary functionality and vendor product requirements” and in SCE’s case the use cases that were developed “placed particular emphasis on how the advanced metering system will be used when deployed.”

“Instead of being constrained by existing product design, the SCE process focused on usage-based requirements to achieve a functional goal. SCE’s intent was to clearly define the desired requirements, leaving vendors to freely come up with innovative solutions as part of the vendor’s system design efforts,” states the website.

It continues: “SCE is interested in encouraging the open development of smart meter/smart grid uses and related technology, so that we can better meet the needs of our customers and improve our operational efficiency and safety.  It is in this spirit of open innovation that SCE is providing the AMI use cases to other utilities, for their potential use. 

“To preserve SCE’s own ability to utilize the use cases (and to allow others to use them …), SCE has taken the precautionary step of filing a patent application for the AMI Use Cases with the U.S. Patent Office. In our efforts to continue to promote open innovation, SCE is offering a non-exclusive royalty-free license for others to use the AMI Use Cases, including for any patent that issues thereon …”

The SCE Use Cases are:

  • Billing & Customer Service: Multiple clients read demand and energy data; Utility remotely limits or connects/disconnects customer; Utility detects tampering or theft at customer site; Contract meter reading for other utilities
  • Customer Interface: Customer reduces demand in response to pricing and/or grid event; Customer has access to and reads recent energy usage and cost at his or her site; Customer uses prepayment services; External clients use the AMI system to interact with customer devices
  • Delivery: Distribution operator curtails/limits customer load for grid management; Distribution operators optimize network based on data collected by the AMI system; Customer provides distributed generation; Distribution operator locates outage using AMI data and restores service
  • Energy Procurement: Real-time operations curtails/limits load for economic dispatch; Utility procures energy and settles wholesale transactions using AMI system data
  • Field Services & System Recovery: AMI system recovers after power outage, communications or equipment failure
  • Installation & Maintenance: Utility installs, provisions and configures AMI system; Utility manages end-to-end life-cycle of the meter system; Utility upgrades AMI system to address future requirements.

The license agreement is currently in draft form and SCE says that a final version will be available by October 1.