Smart Technology for a Smart Utility: Enersource Simplifies Operations Center with Smart Grid Solution
Integration of utility’s data into unified smart grid command-and-control environment increases efficiency and provides more reliable power

by Amy Hime, Manager, Engineering and Asset Systems, Enersource Hydro Mississauga and Ray Bou, System Control Manager, Enersource Hydro Mississauga

Enersource is one of the largest electricity distributors in Ontario, Canada, among 82 municipally owned utilities. The utility has a history in Mississauga that stretches back to 1917 with the creation of Toronto Township Hydro. Prior to 1974, the core of Mississauga was known as Toronto Township. With the formation of the City of Mississauga in 1974, Toronto Township Hydro was renamed Hydro Mississauga. Today, Enersource Hydro Mississauga Inc. is the regulated affiliate of Enersource Corporation, serving more than 187,000 customers with an electrical system that spans over 5,000 kilometers.

Enersource Hydro Mississauga focuses on quality of service for the distribution of electricity, delivery of electricity conservation programs and smart metering solutions to meet provincial government objectives. The utility has gained a national reputation for excellence during the more than 90 years it has serviced the local community and is well known for its reliability, customer satisfaction and rea­sonable costs.

On the reliability front, Enersource’s total duration of service interruption per customer consistently performs well above the Canadian utility average. In 2008, Enersource experien­ced only 19.7 minutes of customer service inter­ruption, which is considered out­standing for the sector. Enersource credits its critical infrastructure investments and strategic engineering focus with raising its reliability performance dramatically from the previous year, making 2008 one of its best years on record for providing world-class reliability to customers.

Customer satisfaction survey results are another success indicator of Enersource’s continuous dedication to improving infrastructure and operations. A recent survey indicated that 90 percent of Enersource Hydro Mississauga’s customers are satisfied with their service.

With the goal of continuing its track record of success, Enersource is looking to the future, examining the develop­ment of distributed generation to add capacity to the Ontario supply mix and driving the conservation agenda to overall reliance on cleaner power generation.

Enersource and the province of Ontario as a whole possess a strong record in pioneering energy efficiency and con­servation programs. A major driver of these efforts, Ontario is taking progressive and proactive action in the smart grid movement. While utilities and municipalities around the world are embracing the smart grid as a means of supplying more energy without further depleting the earth’s resources, Ontario is on the cutting edge of this movement, mandating that all homes and businesses in the province are equipped with smart meters by 2010.

To date, Enersource has installed over 135,000 residential smart meters, and the remaining residential installations
will be completed in 2010. Enersource was also one of the first local distribution companies in Ontario to complete system testing to support smart metering for small Commercial and Industrial (C&I) customers.

In addition to smart meters, Enersource has also turned to other key technologies to provide affordable, reliable service to customers while playing a significant role in Ontario’s energy conservation efforts.

The company purchased its first geographic information system (GIS) in 1989 to effectively store, track and manage its assets. Today these assets account for 920,000 distribution transformers, utility poles, meters, conductors, network devices, sensors, municipal substations and other items.

In 2008, Enersource realized it needed to supplement its asset management system with a more efficient method of controlling its grid. At the time, the utility used various software products and computer consoles to manage all operations. Operators used different applications for GIS, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), internal work processing and many other day-to-day electric grid management activities.

This required operators to switch among multiple systems in the control room, which increased the complexity and time required to monitor and analyze data. Having to enter information on the various overlapping systems also increases the chance of having inconsistent records.

As a result, Enersource was looking for a way to provide system operators with a consolidated user environment for all control room applications. The utility wanted to leverage its GIS data so all users could have easy, digital access to information on its hundreds of thousands of assets. This would speed the elimination of paper wallboard maps and manual processes, and streamline the flow of information across the utility.

Control room operators face further complexity as advanced smart grid technologies become more widely deployed. Smart devices generate more data points for grid operators to monitor and analyze, making it difficult to obtain a clear view and quickly make critical decisions. Enersource decided to implement a solution combining Intergraph’s Smart Grid Operations Command-and-Control Center and Siemens’ Distribution System Power Flow (DSPF) application to create an Integrated Operating Model (IOM). The IOM’s wide range of analysis tools would make use of this ever-increasing volume of data to predict and recommend actions to the operators.

These technologies provide Enersource with the power to easily visualize the grid through a single user interface for faster, more informed decision-making. With the combined IOM capabilities, Enersource staff will have immediate information about load and voltage conditions to help them more safely, quickly and reliably reconfigure their networks and restore power.

The capability to easily leverage existing GIS data in the IOM was a key deciding factor in implementing the solution. Additionally, the long-term success, open architecture, flexi­bility and scalability of the solution set and the inclusion of outage management and mobile workforce management functionality as well as GPS tracking of field crews were also differentiating factors in the selection process.

The availability of commercial-off-the-shelf interfaces to customer information, interactive voice response and advanced meter reading systems completed Enersource’s list of requirements, all met by the combined Intergraph/Siemens solution.

Enersource divided the project into two phases. During the first phase, the company implemented the outage management system (OMS), a key foundation for the Smart Grid Operations Command-and-Control Center. This allows the utility to use existing GIS information with the OMS software and provides enhanced functionality for trouble analysis, call-taking and network management, combined with status notification of changes to SCADA-controlled devices.

Specifically, the IOM allows Enersource to analyze trouble calls in real time and determine the device most likely causing an outage, as well as quickly view information about crews and their current status and pending and active jobs, among many other activities. Enersource successfully launched the first phase of the IOM in September 2008.

The project’s second phase involves SCADA device control and operation, SCADA alarm management, automated switch planning and the integration of load flow analysis with power distribution software acting in concert with the OMS software. This unified command-and-control environment provides easily visualized, actionable intelligence in the form of alarms, events, work orders and other routine activities, allowing for quick detection and remediation of outages and other potential issues.

Implementation of the IOM is due to be completed in July 2010. By streamlining the work of Enersource’s system operators, it will help the utility work more efficiently under both normal and storm conditions, as well as ensure that its back office and field crews have the most up-to-date and accurate information.

The robust system will allow Enersource to fully leverage its GIS system and enable the utility to model equipment not typically possible for OMS-type applications, which provides a more complete data model for analysis and will enable Enersource to fully use the system through reporting and add-on applications. Overall, the IOM will result in more reliable power for Enersource customers and improved safety for both employees and customers.

“The City of Mississauga has grown from 170,000 residents just 40 years ago to over 700,000 today,” said Craig Fleming, President & CEO of Enersource. “This rapid growth challenged our ability to track the location and state of our field assets. GIS and smart grid technology have given us the tools to improve efficiency, safety and reliability.”

In the future, Enersource plans to continue leveraging technology to provide more users throughout the company with geospatial data and access to the smart grid system.

“The implementation of the IOM has provided us with a good foundation to help meet the growing energy demands of tomorrow without sacrificing the excellent service and safety Enersource is known for,” added Raymond Rauber, Vice President of Engineering and Operations with Enersource. “Utilizing state-of-the-art integrated solutions allows us to keep building on a quality platform that provides our utility with the confidence to deliver reliable electricity for customers now and well into the future.”

Before too long, all utilities operating around the world will need to embrace smart grid strategies to survive in the future. Increasing energy demands, diminishing resources and rising environmental concerns will force all energy suppliers to seek out innovative means of serving customers and protecting the planet.

Enersource and the province of Ontario are taking proactive, pioneering steps to guarantee future success and the continued satisfaction of their customers. As more advanced technologies are incorporated into the grid, the amount of data flooding into the control room will become unmanageable without solutions that consolidate and filter the data through a single interface, creating a clear picture of actionable information from which operators can make intelligent decisions.

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