Utilities today face a rapidly evolving market. Challenges aging infrastructure, growing distributed energy, renewable energy portfolio standards stand to disrupt the traditional utility business model. However, many utilities see these challenges as an opportunity. They are leveraging smart grid technologies to transition from yesterdays one-way grid to the decentralized, interconnected, bi-directional grid of the future.
EPB, a municipal utility serving more than 172,000 homes and businesses across 600 square miles in the Greater Chattanooga, Tenn., area, is leading the charge with smart grid innovation.
EPB began constructing a smart grid in 2008 to reduce the impact of power outages, improve response time, allow customers greater control of their electric power usage and improve communication capabilities. EPB now operates the country's most automated electric distribution grid along with one of its largest 100 percent fiber optic networks.
Adding new applications
Today, EPB continues to benefit from its smart grid investment and to add value to customers by partnering with Schneider Electric to implement additional smart grid applications.
EPB is currently deploying Schneider Electrics Energy Profiler Online, a cloud-based energy management information system. It takes the large volumes of customer usage data (near real-time usage, load and cost information) and turns it into actionable information for customers. For large commercial and industrial customers, EPB rebranded EPO as "Business Power Tracker."
In combination with Schneider Electrics ION 8000 series meters, EPBs AMI system and EPBs high speed, fiber optics communications network, Business Power Tracker provides a platform for customers to monitor and manage their energy usage.
Although some energy management systems provide utilities with daily data, the Business Power Tracker can provide customer data at 15-minute intervals. It collects AMI and ION data through EPBs fiber optic network. The advanced metering nodes sample the grid thousands of times per second, and upload detailed analysis to various software systems when problems are detected. As a result, EPB can monitor potential power quality and reliability issues in near-real time and provide that information to customers. This allows customers to make operational changes throughout the day, or to analyze the data over time.
For example, EPB customer Signal Mountain Cement is using the Business Power Tracker (in conjunction with the utilitys Key Accounts Program) to maximize energy efficiency without the expense of hiring an energy management consultant.
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