The Infosys Utilities Blog seeks to discuss and answer the industry’s burning Smart Grid questions through the commentary of the industry’s leading Smart Grid and Sustainability experts. This blogging community offers a rich source of fresh new ideas on the planning, design and implementation of solutions for the utility industry of tomorrow.

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May 24, 2011

Live Blogging CS Week- Car Giveaway

Come by the Infosys booth at CS Week 2011 for the opportunity to enter into the raffle for the Mitsubishi Eclipse.



Infosys is a sponsor of the Mitsubishi Eclipse to be raflled at the end of CS Week

The drawing will be held Thursday, May 26, 2011 during the General Session.
Drawing open to utility employees only. Must be present to win.
Please read official terms and conditions.

Also, while at the booth, preview the Infosys Smart Customer Experience! All participants will be automatically entered into a raffle for an iPad.


Live Blogging from CS Week Day 2-Post 2

Per Infosys' Sanjeev Bode at CS Week 2011:

We experienced our first wave of folks to the booth for Day 2 (See pictures below)


CS_Week4.jpgGreg Kramer(left) talks to a booth visitor, while the booth is packed with other interested visitors 


CS_Week_3.jpgThe Infosys booth overflowed with interested utility executives interested in viewing Smart Integrator, Smart Customer Portal and Demand Side Management demos


CS_Week_2.pngSanjeev Bode (far right) and David Shin (middle) discuss the benefits of about Infosys Customer Service solutions with a CS Week attendee

Live Blogging from CS Week Day 2

Per Infosys' Sanjeev Bode on the second day of CS Week 2011:

Good Morning Gentlemen,

The conference is just starting - people have started to trickle into the booth area for lunch. Some of our Clients are still stuck at airports across the country owing to bad weather.

Our hearts go out to the folks in Joplin, MO who were devastated  because of the tornado.

I want to start my blogging in a different style - with pictures. After all a picture is worth a 1000 words !!!

Here is the first one: 

CS_Week_2011.jpgInfosys Utilities Team on the second day of CS Week 2011

May 23, 2011

Live Blogging from CS Week Day 1

As we move into the second day of CS Week 2011, I wanted to capture the thoughts of our event attendees on the ground in Orlando from Day 1. We will be submitting live blogs throughout the week, through the eyes of Infosys.

Padhy.jpgA few observations from Infosys' Uma Shankar Padhy:

      • We had a great 1st day at CS Week 35 conference today. The turnout is fantastic and the Gaylord Palms Orlando is an exciting place to be this week!
      • Over 500 Utilities are participating in CS Week conference this year and we have seen many come by our booth over the last few hours. I saw many first time attendees this year both from Utilities and Product/Service providers. The talk of the show is legacy CIS replacement and accomodating Customer Service iniatitives through modern CIS systems. 
      • Our booth is strategically positioned near the bar that helped a lot to get more traffic to our booth on the very 1st day! That always helps!
      • Subho and Venkat were busy the entire day showing demos of Infosys Smart Customer Portal, Infosys Demand Side Management and Infosys Smart Integrator solution..
      • We are expecting a lot of traffic over the next couple of days and we look forward to seeing you at the show. Again the iPad raffle will occur on the last day so stop by for a demo to register!

May 20, 2011

Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEV) readiness

"Who killed the electric car?" and "Revenge of the Electric car" are two documentary feature films by Chris Paine. Whether it is revenge of the electric car or not they are fast coming into the market. Several national and local governments have established Tax credits, subsidies and other incentives to promote the introduction and adoption in the mass market of plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) depending on battery size and their all-electric range. Almost every automobile manufacturer is releasing PEV. Now whether utilities are interested or not they have to get ready for it and they have critical role to play in the success of PEV. They cannot control the customers buying PEV and their charging patterns, all they can do is be prepared for it.
The best way to manage this would be to design new rates to attract customers to charge during the off peak hours. As much as possible utilities would like them to charge between 10:00 PM and 5:00 AM. Utilities and regulatory are working on coming up with new rate plan for PEV.  Some utilities are also designing experimental flat rates. Utilities are preparing to have new plans and get the installations done for the PEV. Some utilities are installing special meter for PEV and some are trying to manage with new rate on the same meter. There are different types of chargers that would be available in the market. Depending on the charger levels (level 1, 2 and 3) the load and time to charge would change.

Early adopters would most likely be (wealthy people or risk takers) living in same area, causing cluster issues in early stages. Therefore, utilities must first ensure they're prepared on a more localized level rather than the bulk load. While new rates are being designed to attract customers to charge during off peak hours utilities can never control when a PEV is being plugged for charging. Early adopters might not care that much for the cost either initially. They might end up charging during peak hours.

The first step is ensuring the transformers can handle the extra load. Utilities implementing AMI could benefit from transformer monitoring by totaling the meter data of customers being served by the transformer. While this is to be done at the system level in long run to identify the overloaded transformers and taken action. Immediate short term option would be to check the transformer loading against existing data and forecasting the load with inclusion of PEV charge station (depending on the level) in the areas where PEV charge station is being deployed or a customer is being put into PEV rate. This can help utilities to avoid any transformer overloading issue initially. Since this is PEV is new for the grid, utilities are very cautious about not getting into news for any wrong reasons.

There are solutions available for identifying the transformer loading system wide and plotting them on the GIS map. Smart integrator is one such solution that can be plugged in by utilities to help them with transformer load management beyond PEV.

CS week 35 has a workshop on EV readiness let us wait to see what we get to learn.

May 19, 2011

Meter Data Management System: What to look for

Majority of the utilities are currently focusing on setting up AMI infrastructure for meeting regulatory requirements, green power initiatives and other business benefits.
AMI meters are being rapidly deployed and data is being collected, but utilities did not really start realizing the benefits of collected data and other AMI capabilities to remotely perform transactions apart from just getting the monthly billing read. Initially billing might be interested in the data but gradually other groups with the organization would demand for the data. The key to successful AMI implementation is to leverage the value of meter data. The primary interface for any large scale AMI system is the Meter Data Management Systems (MDMS), and the MDMS forms an integral part of AMI.
Meter Data Management System (MDMS) is used as common repository for AMI meter data and its suite of applications are used for variety of analysis and help in realizing the business benefits by integrating with other utility systems. MDMs is also looked as single interface for all the utility system to communicate with AMI.

While evaluating for such an important system, the following have to be considered:

•MDM integration with utility applications should be vendor agnostic. MDM should manage the integration with AMI and when an new AMI system or technology is brought in the system needs to be integrated only with MDM

•Identifying the attributes to be maintained in MDM is critical. You will need to maintain some entities from CIS and need to be very cautious about what you want to maintain in MDM and define the system based on your business needs. People in the team should understand the expectation and not think of it as CIS replacement. As much as possible meter related information have to be maintained

•Performance of MDM is another critical aspect. You should have right expectations from the beginning on performance in terms of loading the data and cleansing the data.

•Reporting is critical feature. So much of data is being maintained to make good use of the data in other business application or process. It is very important to have flexibility in reporting data out of MDM.

•Identifying right business services (ex: Connect, Disconnect, On Request Read, Meter Program change, Billing Read Request, Demand Reset) that are needed

These are some of the basics that you need to be aware of. It is very important to do system appreciation and do the right requirements to meet your business needs.

May 16, 2011

Underrated Customer Service Benefits of AMI

In my previous life I sold AMI systems to a utilities.  After the one utility in particular had bought the system I asked the CEO why he needed the AMI system.  It was not obvious to me that he could save lots of money in meter reading as his territory was fairly dense and his cost of meter reading was not very high. This utility was a midsized utility.  He asked me to go with him to the lobby and he pointed out to whole bunch of people sitting in the lobby.  He said all these people clogging up my lobby have billing questions and they think we are cheating them because they don't understand cycle day billing no matter how many times we have explained them.  Sometimes they get the bills for 33/34 days and other times they get bills for 25/26 days and this difference can be huge depending upon the weather.  

He mentioned this hassle alone is big enough for him to justify AMI system which will not only reduce his customer service cost but more importantly improve his customer satisfaction.  In the next blogs, I will discuss many other customer service benefits.

May 9, 2011

Smarter Organization for Smart Grid

In my previous blogs I discussed about value realization from smart grid investments ( ) and technological and social relevance of Smart Grid ( ). Also my fellow bloggers have been discussing about some very important business and technology challenges and solutions. As Utility industry moves towards addressing these challenges, an underlying element that needs to be addressed is your internal organization and most importantly "people" (This is one part of change which is most important but is often given least priority while actually planning for it). If the internal change is not managed well then it may lead to confusion, anxiety, frustration, resistance, waste and delay, and these are sufficient enough reasons to derail any program. And in case of Smart Grids we are talking about disrupting the well-established processes and procedures over years; so it definitely warrants a structured approach for managing change.

If you have started your Smart Grid journey then you would have already experienced few of the following challenges (which are not related to Smart Grid technology) and if you are just starting then you should start thinking about these: 
  1. Is the internal organization tuned for such a mammoth changes?
  2. How to bring departments/business units closer to match up to technology convergence?
  3. How to make people smarter and more successful with the change?
  4. Have we set clear expectations with the employees?
  5. Are we providing adequate tools and skills to the employees?
  6. Do we have adequate rewards/consequences mechanisms?
  7. Are we communicating the right things at the right time with employees and customers?
  8. How will customers perceive these changes?
  9. And above all do we have managed plan to effect these changes? 
This list can go on and on but the moot point here is to ensure that internal and external changes coming with Smart Grid initiatives are recognized and addressed in a structured manner. But the question remains "How do we address these challenges?" Though there is no silver bullet solution to the problem but it can be addressed through a series of well-planned Organizational Change Management (OCM) interventions.  A full blown OCM exercise is needed to create the organization of the future (and it requires planning, patience and delicate handling) and following should be the key elements of a holistic OCM approach:
  • Change Strategy and Vision
  • Leadership
  • New Ways of Working
  • Job and Organization Design
  • Culture
  • Value Realization
You should define each of these in your own context and ensure that it's well executed through the life cycle of your Smart Grid journey. I would happy to discuss further with you in case you are trying to find answers to any one of the above problems. 

May 4, 2011

What is the profile of the "smart grid consumer"?

The end goal of smart grid is to assemble an intelligent infrastructure that allows both the utility and the consumer to make smarter energy decisions. The first phase of deployment mainly focused on the provisioning of advanced metering, with a more focused upside for the utility (meter reading savings, turn-on, turn-off, etc). As a result of many of the metering pilots, utilities have discovered that adoption by the consumer is crucial. That being said, how well do we know the "smart grid consumer"?

On face value, we understand the electricity consumption patterns of the individual energy consumer. Some utilities (in unregulated markets, the retail electric provider) even have access to credit risk information. For many utilities, this is the depth of the utility/consumer relationship. Unfortunately, with the roll-out of additional smart grid features, such as time of use pricing, demand response and demand side management, that surface relationship will not assist the utility in adoption.

Many pilots for consumer demand tailoring activities have proven ineffective or marginal, but my argument to the pilot is that the primary pilot consumer set was too broad and the relationship too narrow. There are many customer segmenting tactics available to utilities based on web interactions and profiles that can focus the consumer segment more appropriately. Like most new technologies, adoption is going to be a function of the customer profile. Individuals who are technology enthusiasts and fall in a technology adopter profile are the appropriate target audience for pilots. Consumer adoption will not map directly to the response seen from these adopters, but for many initiatives it is consumer inertia that changes consumption patterns

My point is that to limit consumer resistance to smart grid initiatives, it is important to understand your customer beyond cursory energy consumption. This relationship must be much stronger to better target adopters of future technology and smart grid initiatives.