Smart grid study identifies utility GIS hurdles


Bill Meehan,
Utility Solutions
Director, Esri
Redlands, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — August 24, 2010 – U.S. utilities must correct, update, and integrate customer and infrastructure data before a smart grid can be effectively implemented, according to a new study conducted by GIS software company Esri.

Of the 226 study respondents, 71 percent viewed geographic information system (GIS) technology as strategic to the smart grid, while the remaining 29 percent believed GIS plays a significant role.

According to the study, most utilities report a lag time of up to 90 days to move data from the field into the GIS. Data accuracy is reportedly spotty, and data is either incomplete or not GPS accurate, with fewer than 70 percent having a complete model of their primary distribution and just over half reporting their land and street information is GPS accurate.

Moreover, only 15 percent of respondents reported high confidence (less than 2 percent errors) in their GIS data. In addition the larger the size of the company, the less likely was it to be among the most smart grid ready.

Utility operators will need GIS for crucial smart grid requirements such as collecting and updating data and managing the installation of smart meters and sensors. GIS is also seen as a critical tool for analyzing energy consumption and incorporating renewable energy resources.

“Simply put, GIS facilitates the building and operation of a smart grid,” said Bill Meehan, utility solutions director for Esri. “However, many utilities in the United States acknowledge that the data in their GIS is not ready for the smart grid. Without accurate data and GIS for monitoring things like demand response and consumer behavior, the smart grid may not live up to its lofty expectations.”