Oncor delivers customer benefits through an integrated smart grid

Leveraging IBM solutions and services to deliver a smart grid infrastructure

Published on 14-Feb-2013

"Our vision was to respond to outages and fix issues proactively on a scheduled basis, as opposed to reactively on an unscheduled basis. In the end, if you can do that it's all upside." - Mark Carpenter, vice president of transmission grid management and system operations, Oncor

Customer:
Oncor

Industry:
Energy & Utilities

Deployment country:
United States

IBM Business Partner:
Landis + Gyr

Overview

Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC (Oncor) is the largest regulated electric distribution and transmission company in Texas and the sixth largest in the United States, with more than three million customers and a service area covering nearly 117,000 square miles.

Business need:
Oncor wanted to modernized its operations to proactively manage outages and meet more sophisticated energy needs.

Solution:
To accomplish those goals Oncor, partnered with IBM and IBM Business Partner Ecologic Analytics, along with Advance Metering System provider and IBM Business Partner Landis + Gyr, to implement a Meter Data Management System (MDMS) and deploy smart meters across its grid, meters that would collect energy usage and event data automatically.

Benefits:
Provides consumers the data needed to become active participants in their power consumption management and enables individual households to reduce electrical consumption by an estimated 5 to 10 percent

Case Study

Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC (Oncor) is the largest regulated electric distribution and transmission company in Texas and the sixth largest in the United States, with more than three million customers and a service area covering nearly 117,000 square miles. Oncor began its advanced meter program in 2008. Oncor recently completed the deployment of 3.25 million meters serving the customers of north and central Texas. Customers in Oncor’s service territory showed last year during the company’s biggest energy saver contest that by using the information from Oncor’s advanced meter they could reduce their electric usage and bills by 25 percent or more.

Becoming more proactive about outage management

Oncor modernized its operations to proactively manage outages and meet more sophisticated energy needs. The project included the smart meter system, along with a new smart grid platform with outage management and distribution management capabilities. “Our goal was to be able to accurately respond to outages and restore services without requiring any contact from the customer,” says Oncor’s Mark Carpenter, senior vice president of transmission grid management and system operations. “In many cases, outages occur during the middle of a workday, when nobody’s home. We’d experience a significant spike in customer calls and service orders after working hours, from 5:00 to 7:00 in the evening, which meant customers would unnecessarily end up in a long queue waiting for service.”

The requirements for Oncor’s smart grid, were the ability to capture and access grid information at the point of consumption—energy delivery and consumption data for individual homes and businesses—paired with an ability to proactively alert Oncor to outages. Supporting such capabilities requires a data management platform that efficiently stores time-stamped data across the entire enterprise for transmission, distribution and billing. By combining the meter outage data and the outage data from the outage management system, Oncor can pinpoint problem areas and respond quickly to the exact source of the problem. And now with today’s systems and analytic capabilities, power can be restored without customers even knowing there was a problem.

Partnering with IBM to deploy smart meters

To accomplish those goals Oncor, partnered with IBM and IBM Business Partner Ecologic Analytics, along with Advance Metering System provider and IBM Business Partner Landis + Gyr, to implement a Meter Data Management System (MDMS) and deploy smart meters across its grid, meters that would collect energy usage and event data automatically.

“Historically utilities in this country have read the meters for most customers once a month. The smart meters at Oncor collect data six times a day at 15 minute intervals with power quality events and outage information collected in near real time,” says John Galloway, executive vice president of business development for Ecologic Analytics. “This exponential increase in information and the associated validation processes quickly become impossible for utility staff to monitor and manage with existing systems. That's where our solution comes in.”

IBM Global Business Services (GBS) provided the solution architecture as well as integration services, connecting the MDMS with a third-party outage management system (OMS) that had been developed in parallel with the MDMS. The GBS team also provided design, development and testing for the range of other components within Oncor’s new smart-grid system. Oncor’s business and technical requirements—specifically, its need to manage large-scale, high-volume data with negligible latency—drove GBS’ solution architecture development, as well as the integration design itself.

Creating an intelligent, interactive energy grid

The MDMS automatically receives and transmits energy consumption information captured by meters in 15 minute increments, essentially deploying an electricity speedometer at each customer premises. “Each meter measures electricity flowing through it 96 times every day for every residence and the MDMS records and validates this information for presentation on the Smart Meter Texas customer portal,” says Galloway. “Oncor is putting more control in the hands of electricity customers, making them active participants in grid management rather than just passive consumers.” Indeed, Oncor customers are now more informed and empowered than ever before to make decisions that better manage their energy use.

In addition to the potential economic and conservation benefits, the combined MDMS and OMS system improves overall reliability throughout the grid, providing Oncor with the ability to remotely diagnose potential problems in the grid and fix them before they create an outage. If an outage were to occur, Oncor has a real time, enhanced view of the extent of that outage. That enhanced visibility, along with an ability to formulate the fastest and most resource-efficient response strategy in the event of severe weather event, such as a tornado or electrical storm, add tremendous efficiency to Oncor’s system. For example, in responding to one such weather event, Oncor—acting on specific, accurate and actionable information—was able to reduce the number of maintenance trucks it dispatched by 40 percent.

Two-way communications capabilities help minimize the number and length of power outages by providing Oncor with an ongoing picture of the overall system and potential trouble spots. “We use the system for data analytics,” says Oncor’s Carpenter. “We can pinpoint areas where it appears there are power quality issues, even though we haven’t had an outage. We’ve got that ability to find incipient faults.” In fact, of the first 1,482 events identified after deploying the system, 13 percent were not actual outages; they were early-stage issues that eventually would have caused an outage. With the new system’s preemptive alerts, Oncor now knows with a high degree of certainty that a problem exists and dispatches repair personnel with higher-order instructions and skills to diagnose and rectify the issue.

Simplifying maintenance and management

From a grid maintenance perspective, the utility can read meters automatically and remotely, potentially avoiding estimated meter readings, missed meters and the inconvenience to consumers caused by hard-to-reach meters. Throughout the grid, meters can be remotely connected or disconnected, which is a great cost saving for Oncor, because service to a particular location can be provisioned or discontinued without a technician having to physically visit the meter.

Advanced filtering capabilities designed into the system allow Oncor to avoid a common issue associated with other metering and outage management systems. “We virtually eliminate false-positives. One simple example is that with other systems an outage might be reported every time an electrician pulls a single meter out for repair at a particular location. Our system requires that at least two meters see an outage before we declare it an outage.”

With the creation and deployment of its MDMS and outage management system, Oncor is a recognized leader in the adoption of smart grid technologies. “There may be several electricity providers that use some sort of advanced metering for outages; however, few have done it with the degree of integration we have between the smart meters and an outage management system that provides such a high level of filtering and certainty.” Customers are gaining insight into and control over their energy consumption, while Oncor positions itself to improve the reliability of its network, minimize power outages and enhance service delivery.

“Our vision from the beginning was to accurately respond to outages and fix issues proactively, on a scheduled basis, as opposed to reactively on an unscheduled basis,” says Oncor’s Carpenter. “In the end, if you can do that it’s all upside.”
Business benefits
● Enables Oncor to proactively identify and fix outages or incipient outages before customers are inconvenienced
● Eliminates false positive outage alerts through advanced filtering capabilities, improving restoration efficiency and reducing unneeded trouble calls to customers’ homes
● Improves emergency-response in the event of severe weather events with real-time, views of outages; in one instance reducing maintenance trucks required to respond by 40 percent
● Provides consumers the data needed to become active participants in their power consumption management and enables individual households to reduce electrical consumption by an estimated 5 to 10 percent

For more information

To learn more about Smart Grid solutions from IBM, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/smart_grid/ideas

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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Power 595, Power 770, Storage: XIV

Software:
WebSphere DataPower Integration Appliance XI50, Maximo for Utilities, WebSphere DataPower XML Security Gateway XS40, WebSphere Service Registry and Repository, WebSphere Application Server, Tivoli Compliance Insight Manager, Tivoli Identity Manager Express, WebSphere DataPower XML Accelerator XA35, Tivoli Storage Management, Informix TimeSeries Real-Time Loader

Service:
IBM Global Business Services

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 1058 Produced in the United States of America February 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, DataPower, Informix, Maximo, Power, System Storage, Tivoli, WebSphere, and XIV, are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The performance data and client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.