AMI at a major municipal utility


Conference: Smart Metering West Coast 2006
Location: San Fransisco
Presenter: Stephen Nees
Abstract: Presented by Stephen Nees at Smart Metering West Coast 2006.
There are a number of key drivers that have forced most utilities to at least initiate investigation into Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).  In the case of a mid-sized Southern California municipal utility the drivers have included legislative and regulatory initiatives, demand-response concerns, the ability to offer new services, improve forecasting, and operational efficiencies.  EPACT 2005 is one driver, but in California, over 300 bills were submitted in 2006 that had potential impacts.  From a regulatory perspective, municipal utilities are not subject to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), but typically endeavor to meet or exceed PUC requirements.

Anaheim Public Utilities embarked on its AMI journey about 5 years ago with the introduction of smart meters for its largest commercial and industrial customers.  Drivers included the ability to offer Time of Use rates for the largest customers, which required meters with additional capabilities.  The technology deployed for this category uses satellite paging or a public network. 

The next phase was to investigate residential application.  We ran a 2 year pilot with four vendor’s products.  All of the products used wireless network technology.  Two of the products worked well, the others didn’t.  Based on the success we had with one of the technologies, we went further and initiated a demand-response pilot that would take advantage of the metering capabilities of the new system.  The Spare the Power Days pilot ran during the summer of 2005 and provided voluntary participants with a $.35 per KWh saved on 12 ‘peak power’ days.   The results were comparable to those achieved in a statewide Critical Peak Power pilot.

With the pilots completed, the next phase for Anaheim is completion of business case development taking into consideration a variety of factors including deployment alternatives, economic issues, operational issues (including impact on union staff), service impacts and most importantly, funding.    The architecture selected includes meter network(s), data collection, meter data management with integration with CIS, OMS, and EAM.  We recognize that integration with both back-office and operational systems is critical to success.

Deployment alternatives (unless mandated otherwise) include continued testing, limited deployment, limited plus targeted deployment and full deployment.  Each of the deployment alternatives has different costs and significantly different advantages.  Preliminary evaluation indicates that moving forward with limited plus targeted deployment will be recommended.