2017 Research Portfolio

Power Delivery and Utilization - Distribution and Utilization

Program 161 - Information and Communication Technology

Last Updated: 31-May-2017
Program Description

Utilities are increasingly deploying monitoring, communications, computing, and information technologies to enable grid modernization applications such as wide area monitoring and control, asset management, distribution automation, integration of distributed energy resources, and demand response. Companies face significant challenges when deploying these technologies, including:

  • Selecting the technologies that best meet current and future business needs, while minimizing the risk of early obsolescence and vendor lock-in;
  • Creating an overall architecture that integrates the many intelligent devices, communications networks, and enterprise systems to leverage resources and provide information to all users;
  • Mining and managing the tremendous amount of data that is generated, converting the data into actionable information, and effectively presenting the information to the people who need to take action;
  • Managing a growing network of intelligent devices that have different capabilities and use different protocols and data formats in a way that optimizes performance; and
  • Creating pervasive, resilient communications networks that can enable multiple applications

The Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Program addresses these challenges by conducting research in:

  • Interoperability – The program accelerates the industry’s migration towards interoperability by making technical contributions to standards development efforts, providing training to utilities, organizing interoperability tests, developing transition strategies, and collaborating with utilities on the demonstrations of emerging standards.
  • Communications – The program provides leadership in communications standards development, provides tracking and analysis of communications technologies, and conducts laboratory and field tests to evaluate the performance of evolving and emerging technologies.
  • Enterprise Architecture / Systems Integration – The program creates artifacts that help to improve the state of the art in enterprise architecture and develops guides to help utilities with standards-based systems integration
  • Advanced Metering – The program leads an industry effort to develop open, interoperable advanced metering systems and develops prognostics tools that can help utilities determine the remaining life of the advanced metering systems.
Research Value

The ICT program provides information and tools that provide members with immediate value while conducting longer-term R&D to help guide the industry towards a highly connected and interoperable future.

IT departments can receive value from guides that provide best practices for enterprise architecture and systems integration. Utility operations can receive value from reports that track advances in standards and communications technologies; tools that determine the remaining useful life of advance metering systems; and from best practices for Geospatial Information System (GIS) and Phasor Measurement Unit (PMU) data management. This information can enable members to reduce capital and O&M costs, and minimize the risk of early obsolescence of equipment.

In the long term, members benefit from R&D and industry support to advance interoperability standards for advanced metering systems, distributed energy resources, demand response and enterprise system integration. This can reduce capital and integration costs and reduce the risk of vendor lock-in.


The approach for providing value in the ICT program involves multiple strategies:

  • Tracking and Analysis—Builds on ICT staff involvement in industry-related activities to provide insight and analysis to members. Key activities in 2017 include tracking and analysis of interoperability standards and communications technologies.
  • Industry Best Practices and Lessons Learned—Documents utility experiences as they implement early-generation technologies and applications and core grid-modernization technologies. Experiences are captured through utility immersions, interviews and case studies. Key activities in 2016 include: documenting best practices for GIS data management; synchrophasor communications and data management; Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) health monitoring and evolution; Information Technology (IT) / Operations Technology (OT) convergence; and leveraging cloud technologies.
  • Industry Leadership—Helps to advance the industry toward open and interoperable devices and systems. A key activity in 2016 was making technical contributions to advance open, interoperable advanced metering systems.
  • Laboratory Testing—Conducts work in EPRI laboratories that enables detailed assessment of emerging standards, equipment and software performance, and communications architectures.
  • Field Demonstrations—Performs full-scale deployments of emerging standards and communications technologies. This is done primarily through supplemental projects such as the Field Area Network demonstration, Open Automated Demand Response (OpenADR) demonstration and CEA-2045 (Consumer Electronics Association) demonstration.
  • Technology Transfer—Uses a variety of approaches to share research results, including technical reports, white papers, newsletters, webcasts and workshops.
  • Advancing Standards – Makes technical contributions to and participates in standards development organizations or industry groups that advanced interoperability and standardization. Key activities in 2017 include advancing the standards for asset condition monitoring, CIM for work and asset management, and communications and data standards for distributed energy resources and demand response.
  • Guidebook Development – Develops go-to reference books to help utilities plan for, design, deploy, and maintain new technologies or applications. A key activity in 2017 will be updating the Enterprise Architecture and Communications for Distribution Automation Guidebooks.

The ICT Program has delivered valuable information that has helped its members, the industry, and the public in numerous ways:

  • EPRI IntelliGrid Program 2015 Annual Review (3002004938) provides a summary of activities for each project in the program and offers case study examples of how information from the projects is being applied. The review also lists all of the deliverables over the last five years.
  • Electric Utility Guidebook on Integration of Internal and External Data Sources (3002005118) describes industry risks and technical challenges including the identification of data gaps, evaluation of data integration methodologies, and a discussion on the importance of geospatial information to enhance the assessment of weather events on operations assets.
  • Electric Utility Guidebook on Using IEC Standards for Asset Health Data Management: Harmonizing Common Information Model (CIM) and IEC 61850 Asset Health Data Models (3002005119) focuses on the applicability of existing standards and communications in using condition data for health monitoring of utility assets.
  • Electric Utility Guidebook on GIS Data Quality – Second Edition (3002006006) explores the locational differences between the physical placement of the asset compared to the modeled location, documenting method(s) to reconcile the system models, and understanding the cost and benefits of improving the system model data.
  • Communications Challenges and Opportunities Associated with the Integration of DER (3002005756) discusses the current status of DER communications protocols and related challenges and opportunities associated with integrating these technologies to serve as useful tools for distribution system operation and optimization.
  • Utility Cloud Integration Guidebook (3002005727) provides guidance for enterprise architects and senior managers for optimizing cloud architecture.
  • Information Technology (IT)/ Operations Technology (OT) Convergence Strategies (3002000085) explores the best practices based on interviews with utility CIOs.
  • Reference Implementation of Open AMI – Based on IEEE 802.15.4g and Wi-SUN (3002005587) enables utilities to independently evaluate Wi-SUN products for compatibility and interoperability.
  • Advanced Metering Systems Online Database (AMI Resource Center) Version 1.0 (2015) (3002005472) provides an online resource to track the industry status regarding smart meter/ AMI deployments.
Key Activities

In 2017, the ICT Program will:

  • Promote interoperable systems by leading an industry effort to develop open, interoperable advanced metering systems, contributing to the development of key standards such as the Common Information Model (CIM), assessing emerging standards such as Open ADR, conducting interoperability tests of products that implement key standards, and providing training and information to utilities on how to implement standards;
  • Provide tracking and analyses of emerging communications technologies; investigate synchrophasor communications infrastructure to support grid control; develop a guidebook for communications technologies that support distribution automation; and assess communications systems architectures for integrating distributed energy resources and demand response technologies into existing systems;
  • Develop strategies for transitioning from various isolated and independent legacy systems into harmonized, integrated and standards-based solutions that can effectively provide utilities useful, actionable information;
  • Develop artifacts that help to improve the state-of-the-art in enterprise architecture; and
  • Develop and populate a database which contains technical and use information about deployed AMI systems.
Estimated 2017 Program Funding
Program Manager
Donald Von Dollen, 650-855-2210, dvondoll@epri.com
Non-EPRI Members: Contact Program Manager - Donald Von Dollen; 650-855-2210; dvondoll@epri.com
Last Updated
  • PS161A: Emerging Technologies and Technology Transfer

    This project set provides tracking and analysis of the rapid advances in smart grid standards and communications technologies so that members can minimize risk when planning and procuring equipment. It investigates new, ground-breaking information and communication technology (ICT) issues and technologies that might impact utility investments. The ICT program provides members a group of established experts to capture and analyze this information and also provide insightful feedback to utilities. The project set promotes technology transfer for the entire ICT program through webcasts and newsletters and provides the overall industry coordination and high-level technology transfer activities related to the ICT technology needed to support smart grid applications.

    • P161.033: Smart Grid Standards Tracking and Analysis

      Utilities are making large investments in equipment and infrastructure that enable applications such as wide area monitoring and control, distribution automation, distributed energy resource integration, and demand response. These investments are highly dependent on data and communications standards such as the Common Information Model (CIM), IEC 61850, IEEE 1547, OpenADR, SEP 2.0 and many others. The challenge is that there are many standards available and all are evolving quickly. Many utilities find it difficult to track this complex and dynamic landscape that can potentially have a tremendous impact on their business. 

    • P161.034: Communications Technology Tracking and Analysis

      Communications has become a key requirement for grid modernization and grid transformation. Communications networks are necessary to support generation, transmission, distribution, substations, customer, and market operations. Utilities around the world are designing and deploying integrated communications networks that can provide reliable and secure connectivity among intelligent electronic devices throughout their service territories.

      The evolution of communications technology is moving at a rapid pace, driven by the expansion of the Internet and advances in mobile telephones and other consumer-focused products. It is critical for utilities to understand the capabilities and limitations of current technologies when planning for and investing in their communications infrastructure, and also what new technologies are emerging and the impacts that they might have.

    • P161.035: White Papers on Emerging Information and Communication Technology

      Issues around information and communications technologies (ICT) surface quickly and utilities need answers and solutions just as quickly. This project will develop a series of white papers that investigate and analyze emerging ICT issues. With input from ICT program advisors, EPRI staff will identify topics for these white papers throughout 2017.

      Past white papers have included:

      • Opportunities and Hesitations Associated with Open AMI Systems (3002006917)
      • Electric Utility Data Synthesis (3002005586)
      • Security Implications and Considerations for Serial to IP-Based SCADA Migration Revisited (3002006492)
      • Implementation of International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61850 (1021609)
  • PS161B: Information and Communication Technology for Transmission

    This project set provides technical guidance for information and communication technology (ICT) items of interest to transmission-focused organizations. Utilities continue to invest in sensor technologies that provide real-time information for managing the grid and grid assets. Among these are phasor measurement units (PMU) that deliver precise time stamped grid status and also video cameras for substation security monitoring. Both of these technologies require a robust communications infrastructure; however, utilities face challenges in putting a comprehensive communications infrastructure in place. For many utilities, their service areas cover expansive geographic areas. The scale and diversity of these areas creates challenges for putting a communications infrastructure in place that can be economically justified.

    Today there is an ever increasing spectrum of external data sources that may be helpful to utilities. The expansive growth in “Big Data” tools and analytics may provide new efficiencies in transmission operations, planning, and maintenance functions. This is especially true with geospatial data that may identify location specific impacts or trends.

    Utilities also own a wide array of legacy sensory devices that monitor asset condition with numerous protocols. This array requires a diverse set of mechanisms to get data out of the devices, because many of the legacy devices will continue to be relied on for years. As more devices are put online and provide more and more data back to operations, utilities will need to consider adopting standards such as IEC 61850, otherwise known as the Common Information Model (CIM); upgrading their analytic tools to turn the raw data into useful actionable information; and actively managing all the data that is being acquired.  Proper data management techniques archive aged data and ultimately delete this data when no longer relevant or useful.  

    The objective of the ICT for Transmission Systems project set is to the enhance the situational awareness and asset management of the transmission system by identifying requirements and industry best practices for a robust communications infrastructure; developing effective approaches for integrating, managing and analyzing internal and external data sources; and creating a standards-based approach for integrating sensors. The results of this work could ultimately help utilities reduce long-term operations and maintenance expenditures and improve system reliability and resiliency.

    • P161.022: Streaming Data Infrastructure and Data Management

      Utilities are making investments in communications infrastructure to obtain real-time information to enhance the management of both the grid and the grid assets. Many of the new sensors being installed, such as phasor measurement units, use a streaming data protocol that “pushes” data out from the device rather than waiting to be “polled” for data. Utilities face challenges in creating a comprehensive communications infrastructure that can accommodate streaming data. They also face challenges in managing the tremendous amount of data that will result from streaming. 

      This project will evaluate two aspects critical to streaming data. 

      The first is the communications infrastructure requirements for streaming data sources such as synchrophasor or video, which requires investigation of data management methods implemented by participating members, and provision of recommendations to improve the operational efficiency and management of the infrastructure.

      The second is precision timing, and its impact on keeping high-speed data usable by ensuring adequate precision time measures are in place. Methods to design and ensure reliable time sources will be evaluated.

      The work being done in this project is closely coordinated with and designed to complement the work being done in the Substations (P37), Grid Operations (P39), and Grid Planning (P40) Programs. 

    • P161.030: Integration of Internal and External Data Sources for Informed Decisions

      The Integration of Internal and External Data for Informed Decisions project will investigate business enhancement opportunities that arise when considering the wide spectrum of external and internal data sources that are available to support transmission system operational functions. Examples of external data are tornado paths or demographic data while internal data may be the cross linking of power system state with asset condition data. Central to this effort is geospatial information and the relationship between the location-specific impacts. The work being done in this project is closely coordinated with and designed to complement the work being done in the Substations (P37), Grid Operations (P39), and Grid Planning (P40) Programs.

    • P161.036: Standardized Data and Interoperable Communications for Transmission Assets

      Monitoring asset condition has routinely been accomplished by utilities through substation inspections, field testing, lab testing of samples, and other surveillance methods. As the cost for sensing devices has reduced, installation of sensors and sensor systems has proliferated as utilities have used the capabilities to help maintain or improve reliability. Each of these sources of asset condition information tends to utilize its own approach to the organization and naming of data, making it difficult to integrate with other systems. Within the Common Information Model, or CIM, and IEC 61850, there exist object models applicable to condition monitoring. Many of the models have been applied in previous work at EPRI in this area; however, in each case compromises were made in the approach to accommodate the existing models. This project will take a fresh look at the requirements for asset condition monitoring from the perspective of standards and communications. The work being done in this project is closely coordinated with and designed to complement the work being done in the Substations Program (P37) and also supports IEC 61850 working group activity.

  • PS161C: Information and Communication Technology for Distribution

    The Information and Communication Technology for Distribution Systems project set focuses on the infrastructure, architecture, and standards needed to support the flexible and resilient distribution system of the future. This future distribution system will integrate smart devices and workers with back office systems, such as geospatial information systems, distribution management systems, outage management systems, work management systems, asset management systems, and customer information systems. This project set will enhance situational awareness by advancing integration among field devices, visualization systems, and back office systems. In doing so, the project set helps inform communications requirements and interoperability standards, and helps establish industry best practices. The project set will also address data quality, validation, visualization, and management for real-time applications. The work being done in this project set is closely coordinated with and designed to complement the work being done in the Distribution Systems Program (P180).

    • P161.018: Precise System and Data Models

      To realize the vision of a modern and integrated grid, distribution utilities need a comprehensive and accurate model of the distribution system that includes the customer-to-transformer connectivity, any grid connected distributed energy resources, protective devices, transformers, conductors, and other devices. The data models that form the foundation of the system model must be accurate and kept up- to-date as changes occur on the dynamic grid. In some cases, utilities are finding that their capital intensive grid modernization investments are not yielding all of the anticipated benefits. Some utilities are finding that this may be caused by not having a sufficiently accurate representation of the distribution system.

    • P161.031: Connected Workforce and Devices

      With the digital age, the utility is adapting to new waves of technologies that permit its workforce and devices to be connected in numerous ways. A variety of protocols exist, such as IEC 60870, IEC 61850, MODBUS, DNP3, and others, for distribution communications. Other protocols, such as the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), Voice over IP (VoIP), and numerous cellular protocols, exist for the connected workforce. The rules for exchanging data among devices can drive optimization of the power grid and enable a more efficient workforce. Utilities seek guidance on how to create a comprehensive communications infrastructure that can enable a mobile workforce.

      This project will investigate the performance and properties of communications technologies in the context of their ability to support the requirements of different applications used by the connected devices in order to usher in an era of plug-and-play device capabilities. Furthermore, many communications media are subject to temporary disruptions or performance degradation due to interference or signal quality issues.

      This project will also investigate the effect of the communications disruptions, including error recovery, and the ability of the applications and protocols to handle increased latency and delay. Additionally, the project will seek to document the requirements for a more connected workforce, and to identify and demonstrate the wearable technologies that can enable a safer, more knowledgeable workforce.

    • P161.037: Work/Asset Management Standards and Integration

      Standardized messaging using the Common Information Model (CIM), International Electrotechnical Commission standards (IEC) 61970 and 61898, and other standards, reduce the time and cost to integrate distribution enterprise systems and applications. There are significant gaps in the CIM standards, and barriers to their implementation. Incomplete CIM standards limits efficient transfer of information and easy integration between enterprise systems. The gaps also restrict the speed of innovation and inclusion of new technologies into utility systems and their workforce.

  • PS161D: Information and Communication Technology for Distributed Energy Resources

    Distributed energy resources (DER) play a key role in the realization of a modernized grid. EPRI has conducted field demonstration projects, such as the EPRI Smart Grid Demonstration Initiative (SGDI), that have helped to define state-of-the-art practices for building a smarter grid. As demand-responsive loads and distributed energy resources continue to be developed and connected to the grid in increasing numbers, this project set provides opportunity to extend collaborative research and information sharing in this focused area of research.

    This project set will include the integration of DER and DR via both utility owned systems as well as third party-owned cloud-hosted devices and systems of aggregated devices. Research will include the collective impacts of a high penetration of DER including renewable resources, distributed generation, and demand response, through full integration supporting interoperability in a utility’s service territory as tools to manage load relief on a distribution system that equate to capacity that does not have to be purchased, activated, or constructed.

    • P161.038: Standards and Interoperability for Distributed Energy Resources and Demand Response

      Distributed energy resources (DER), such as solar photovoltaic systems, electric vehicles, and demand-responsive loads are being connected to the grid in increasing numbers. As additional DER becomes key or even critical components of the grid, appropriate and secure protocols and standards need to be created and validated. These DER systems and devices may be owned by the customer, third parties, or the utility. Since these DER systems and devices are not necessarily under the utility’s complete control, DER on distribution systems could be disruptive to grid operations or inadequate to provide the desired impact. Utilities will need to understand the DER operational modes that range from "set and forget" to active support (Volt/VAR support from inverters as an example) and how those modes and usage models impact the requirements of the communications network. There is also the need to understand the impact of constrained communications (bandwidth and latency) on the control algorithms, the control applications, and the application protocols for DER. This will help to define the required level of reliability of the communications system to support different levels of DER. Various issues including autonomous operation of a DER device compared with various centralized and distributed control algorithms will also drive the understanding of what communications technologies are appropriate for DER.

      The work on interoperability and communications standards in this project is coordinated with and designed to complement the research being done in Energy Storage (P94), End Use Energy Efficiency and Demand Response (P170), and Integration of Distributed Renewables (P174) Programs.

    • P161.039: Architecture and Methods for Integrating Distributed Energy Resources

      Many possible architectures and technologies exist for distributed energy resource (DER) integration, each with certain capabilities and limitations. Some architectures involve deployment and management of utility-owned infrastructure, while others may utilize existing systems owned and managed by other entities. Some approaches may require significant effort on the part of the consumer in order to commission and manage, and yet may offer the consumer features that they value. Others may be simpler to deploy, but may be limited in terms of the use cases that can be supported. A related architectural issue is to address the pros and cons of autonomous operation of a DER device compared with various centralized and distributed control algorithms.

      The focus of this project is on utilization of the standards implemented in devices, or a system of devices, to support a particular utility program requiring or leveraging DER/DR resources. As energy systems and regulatory directives progress, customer owned DER/DR will be able to participate to an increased level whether direct or indirect (aggregated) methods are utilized. In addition, manufacturers and third parties may offer a variety of DER/DR communication systems. The granularity of impact management of these systems may vary and the ability to access and manage DER devices may be local or regional. With current regulatory directives to enable utilities to accept additional DER it becomes more important to examine which standards and approaches are most appropriate.

      The work being done in this project is coordinated with and designed to complement the work being done in the Electric Transportation (P18), Energy Storage (P94), End Use Energy Efficiency and Demand Response (P170), Bulk Power System Integration of Variable Generation (P173), and Integration of Distributed Renewables (P174) Programs.

  • PS161E: Enterprise Architecture and Systems Integration

    Fundamentally enterprise architecture is about mitigating risk. Enterprise architects mitigate risk and provide value to the organization by:

    • Reviewing systems for fit of purpose across the whole of the organization;
    • Working with business managers to harmonize the application portfolio;
    • Reducing redundancies that increase operations and maintenance costs;
    • Reviewing emerging technology for impacts to application roadmaps.

    The research of this project set aims to put the best tools and techniques into the hands of enterprise architecture practitioners, with an eye to the unique needs and operating environments of utilities. This research will help enterprise architects do their jobs better and help utilities establish a foundation for execution -- that is, the agility utilities will require in an environment marked by an increasing pace of change.

    • P161.029: Enterprise Architecture

      Developing a solid enterprise architecture is a best practice for aligning business with information technology. To this end, a mature enterprise architecture includes a series of architecture development steps to ensure that any given architecture is informed and driven by business requirements, not by the technology du jour. This process creates a “foundation for execution” (accomplished by eliminating redundant systems, harmonizing remaining existing systems) to reduce risk, and increase organizational agility over time. While some lines of business may do this upon occasion, an enterprise architecture system is a center of excellence for these practices.

      However, few utilities have mature enterprise architecture practices and expertise. Additionally, one of the more popular frameworks for developing enterprise architecture in the utility, The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), does not address any given industry, but rather, provides a generic process that then needs to be customized for any given organization that wishes to use it. The key need then is to have a set of best practices or an architecture development methodology that can leverage available resource such as TOGAF or other industry references, and then systematically apply them in the utility industry, to provide guidance for utility architecture practitioners.

    • P161.041: Enterprise Systems Integration

      System selection, fitness for purpose, harmonization of system portfolio, and integration of enterprise systems are the main problem areas for enterprise architects. For systems integration-related issues, using a service-oriented architecture (SOA) has proven to be an effective way to accomplish this activity. SOA is not based on a particular technology, but rather can use a variety of means, albeit the architectures are the same regardless of the specific technology in play. For example, a SOA might use Java Messaging Service (JMS), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), or Representative State Transfer (REST). Often SOA is conflated with an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). While a SOA might incorporate an ESB, this is not a requirement but one of many solutions that might be applied to the integration space.

      In 2016, this research focuses on SOA use and the maintenance of the interfaces based on SOA. In particular, the project will develop best practices regarding the use of versioning. While the maturity of guidance for systems integration has improved (e.g. IEC 61968-100 was published in 2014 that provides Common Information Model (CIM) based integration guidance), there are still questions around the best practices of migrating SOA interfaces to new versions of other software, when, for example, a new version of CIM is published.

    • P161.042: Information Technology (IT) / Operations Technology (OT) Convergence

      As devices in the field (operational technology) gain more capabilities that were traditionally the domain of classic information technology (IT) (communication, storage, analytics, applications, platforms), there is pressure for the IT and operational technology (OT) functions in utilities to converge. Prior research had identified three strategies for dealing with IT/OT convergence: re-align, re-engage, and re-org. In the same fashion that enterprise architecture can be used to align business and IT, it can also be used to align IT and OT. This research will explore the best practices and delve further into these previously identified strategies and examine ways that utilities can best manage convergence both from a technology and an organizational management perspective.

    • P161.045 Common Information Model (CIM)Testing

      The common information model (CIM) and the families of standards which are represented in the model, is a mature and robust set of standards. Although the use of the CIM in the utility industry has steadily increased, the lack of testing and certification has been a drag on the rate of adoption. The international electrotechnical commission (IEC) is efficient at developing and documenting use cases that become the foundation for identifying the functional requirements that are reflected in the standards, but the lack of testing and certification leaves the implementation of the standard open to interpretation.

  • PS161F: Advanced Metering Systems

    Advanced metering systems are being deployed by utilities worldwide.  The performance of these systems, their reliability, and their trust by the consumer are crucial to the utility business. There are many challenges that must be addressed.  Solid-state metering and communication technologies of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) are new and rapidly evolving, and the methods for optimizing their utilization and value are still developing. Investments in AMI are among the largest being made by utilities, resulting in a need for high-quality asset management throughout the system lifecycle. Present systems are largely custom-designed or proprietary, rather than adhering to standards, resulting in vendor lock-in, heightened risk of obsolescence, and lack of interoperability.

    This project set comprises the whole of EPRI research in metering and advanced metering systems, bringing together communication research and meter-specific research that were previously conducted in separate programs. This project set aids members in optimizing existing system utilization and in discovering the full value of AMI-collected data. It accelerates and guides the development of emerging standards and architectures to enhance interoperability, innovation, and marketplace competition. Best practices are identified for the support of system operations and monitoring of systems. Solid-state meters are investigated in regard to accuracy, reliability, and tamper resistance.

    • P161.032: Open, Interoperable Advanced Metering Systems

      The present state of the advanced metering industry is depends heavily on custom designs and proprietary systems.  Although some standards have been created, maturity is lacking and adoption has been selective so that interoperability and interchangeability of devices has not occurred. The result is unnecessary cost and complexity in system design, selection and integration, as well as vendor lock-in that may inhibit innovation and limit functionality.  Technology improvements and third-party communication systems are rapidly changing the landscape of available options and architectures, furthering the challenges of selecting next-generation technologies.

    • P161.043: Advanced Metering Systems Operations and Management

      Best practices for AMI system operation and management are not well known or documented. Utilities are just planning or have recently deployed their first AMI system. For many companies, large network ownership and operation is a new endeavor, and the requisite domain expertise is just being developed internally.

      AMI systems are made up of thousands, or in some cases millions, of nodes, each of which must remain reliably connected. Data must be collected frequently in order to satisfy billing requirements and support customer service. In spite of this scale and performance, the total operating cost must be kept low compared to other communication systems. Service calls for even a small percentage of meters per year are not practical and would be cost-prohibitive on any scale.

    • P161.044: Optimizing Advanced Metering System Value and Utilization

      AMI systems have the potential to support a wide range of uses and AMI data may provide value across the utility enterprise. AMI data may be processed in innovative ways to improve distribution operations, planning, distributed resource integration, customer service, and others. At the present time, these ancillary uses are only beginning to be studied. Performance and capabilities vary from system-to-system, making it difficult to know what options are practical for each. Specific algorithms and system configurations that yield the best performance for each system or data use need to be developed and published so that they can be freely and consistently implemented by manufacturers.