When the 2013-2014 winter cold wave struck Canada and the Eastern United States, temperatures fell to unprecedented levels. This extreme North American weather event lead to widespread power failures in many areas, leaving thousands – even hundreds of thousands – of customers without electricity for up to five days. These customers included businesses and homes across several states, and power utilities reported millions of dollars in lost revenue due to the power outages.
As a result of the past extreme weather events, a state of preparedness became of great significance for the upcoming winter season. One of the largest IOUs in the Southeast asked PrimeStone, a leading provider of innovative data collection, management, and analytics software, to develop a demand response application that complies with a series of requirements resulting in control over their largest customers’ load. These customers have interruptible load contracts with the utility. The requirements were gathered and split into development phases. Each phase had its own scope and set of deliverables. The delivery timeline was very tight and PrimeStone was up for the task.
The requirements were as follows:
• Poll the meters for key customers in order to have near real-time readings.
• Store the contracted load for all key accounts.
• Display dashboards with drill-up / drill-down features that compare the actual load and the contracted load for key customers, in order to allow operators to call an interruptible load dispatch.
• Display expected load reduction and actual load reduction on the dashboards above.
• Display next Block of key customers to be called next in an interruptible load event based on least number of historical hours for each client
• Include an access control list (ACL) integrated with the company’s AD in order to manage permissions for each user role or users groups from the AD.
• Track the total number of hours per customer for all interruptible load dispatches throughout the year.
• Integrate multiple servers in order to totalize the resdings coming from different companies and/or departments inside a company
• Audit all the actions performed from the end user within the system
• Design, develop and test a demand response application in record time before the start of the winter in 2014-2015.
One of the keys to success was the level of engagement by the utility’s operations managers and system operators. The PrimeStone team worked very closely with these experienced personnel at the IOU to ensure that the configuration and development of this application would be effective. In only 3 weeks, the development team designed and coded a flexible .Net web based application called PrimeDR allowing key meters to be read in less than 2 minutes, and sometimes within seconds, by harnessing the PrimeRead call engine. The PrimeRead call engine is a very powerful and flexible data collection solution that links to over 200 different meter manufacturer models via numerous communications methods. The first phase of PrimeDR was successfully launched into production during the last days of December 2014.
In working with PrimeStone, this IOU now reaps the benefits of gaining control over their customer load through a truly empowering demand response tool. Visibility is enhanced allowing near real-time reporting of actual usage that these high value/high revenue customers require. The ability to ensure that contracted rates and agreements are followed is another significant benefit. To further support its goal of shedding load during the annual weather peaks and minimizing the probability of power outages, the utility is committed to working with PrimeStone for the development and deployment of upcoming phases to enhance the current PrimeDR feature set. Stay tuned for future updates regarding this exciting project and the potential it may hold in the utility industry.
After the success of the phase I in 2014, PrimeStone worked again together with the utility’s operators and managers in order to gather and break down the requirements and improvements for phase II. In this phase, PrimeDR had some major changes in its architecture due to a new subsidiary of the company wanted to join the interruptible load program. Therefore, after this phase, the system was now capable of integrating readings from multiple servers and it made the system even more robust and scalable. This phase was fully delivered at the beginning of December 2015 as planned and it is expected to be promoted into production at the beginnig of 2016.