Power Quality & Voltage Regulation Not Included in AMI Business Cases
I have looked at many AMI business cases filed with the Regulators, but I have yet to see the savings from reduction of truck rollouts to check Power Quality and Voltage Regulations. The main reason given why it so is that until AMI is fully deployed and integrated with other systems, these benefits are still hard to quantify.
Generally a utility does not know about Power Quality (PQ) issues unless someone calls about equipment failure or flickering lights. Then, they send a technician with Harmonic & Voltage Monitoring equipment to the site to monitor it for some time. It takes time to collect data, analyze it and find a solution. Many years ago, when I worked for GE as a design engineer, our Elevator Motors were failing in Miami's tallest Bank building and one can imagine the urgency of the situation. I installed Dranetz's Power Monitoring equipment to find the problems. It took us a month to find the problem but today we could have found the problem with a Three Phase AMI Meter and saved lots of time, money and inconvenience.
Today, many three phase meters are capable of capturing THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) and if installed they can send data when the meter sends data and or on demand. However neither the Head End software provided by AMI vendors nor MDMs have features to accept the PQ data. This beneficial feature can be added very easily. When I worked for a company who was providing AMI, we used to discuss it, but we never had enough resources to add such advance functions and always settled for adding simple functions such as adding voltage monitoring and blinks, etc.
Voltage is an important function as a utility has to maintain it with in + 5% (126V to 114V). Generally the AMI helps monitor the voltage and spot problems immediately.
Also, SAIDI, SAIFI, MAIFI, CAIFI type indices are calculated by collecting data from several collection points such as Substation (SCADA), OMS and Customer Service and is a very cumbersome process. This information is reported to the Regulators. All of these benefits can be easily quantified and materialized with additional IT tools and Integration. We will continue to discuss additional benefits in future blogs.