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Uncovering Additional Benefits of AMI Systems Not Included in Business Cases

When I was selling AMI systems, many customers returned enthusiastic reviews such as  "selecting AMI was the best decision I have made in the last 15 years". Yet others expressed lukewarm opinions. So in an effort to obtain an objective critique I embarked on my own inquiry. The preliminary research found that for many AMI implementations, the extents of the benefits were not fully realized until well after initial deployment. Majority of the business cases were extremely conservative and included only short term benefits such as meter reading cost savings, eliminating estimated billing, Disconnecting Meters for non-payment, etc. The business cases did not consider longer term and other enterprise wide benefits. The AMI systems require integration with the Enterprise Systems to achieve the full spectrum of advantages conferred by this new technology. It is thus imperative for AMI implementations to integrate with enterprise systems to extract benefits from the comprehensive and complete data sets. Upon such integrated deployment, some of AMR customers were reporting additional benefits listed below:

Benefits that boost AMI Business Case:

Accurate & Complete Power Quality Data for the Service Areas
o SAIDI, CAIDI, MAIFI statistics
o Voltage Regulation

Evidence of Efficiency, Reliability of Service, Losses, and Loading
o Over-loading to build new Substations, Feeder and/or Upgrade the Line

Distribution Congestion

Accurate Data to Support Different Rate Classes of Customers
o   Customers causing Coincident Peaks

Accurate Data for Non-Paying & Late-Paying Customers

New Options Offer to Customers
o  Prepayment
o  Instant Customer Notification About
      -Power Outages
      -Power Restoration

Exceeding budget Threshold
o  Green Energy Usage
o  Direct Load Control

Data in Support of and Against DR Programs
o In-Home Display
o CPP (Critical Peak Pricing)
o TOU (Time of Use)
o PCT (Programmable Communication Thermostat)
o Energy Efficiency

PUC Complaints
o Billing
o Outage
o Power Quality
o Safety

o To Support "Feed in Tariff" for Solar

Reduction of Carbon Emissions Due to Reduced Roll-Out of Vehicles to:
o Read Meters
o Connect/Disconnect
o Off Cycle Reads
o Restoration of Outages

I came across many of these unanticipated benefits in conversation with AMI customers, both those with glowing and lackluster reviews of AMI. While this list is not exhaustive, it demonstrates the need for utilities to realize many of the above-mentioned AMR benefits with additional IT Integration. I plan to delve more deeply into other benefits and hopefully unveil some additional discoveries in future blogs as I continue to inspect AMI's role in Smart Grid technology.

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