Echelon’s smart meters to enable proactive utilities

Echelon recently announced a new innovation in Smart Grid technology, with its Control Operating Software (COS), which is set to enable utilities to be more proactive in dealing with power generation problems in the field.

Smart meters from Echelon and the company’s Open Smart Grid Protocol (OSGP) can be upgraded in the field to function as multi-parameter grid sensors as well as billing devices.

The new technology is, in effect, a grid sensor, providing real time data at the edge of the grid that helps utilities avoid services outages.

Speaking to Power Engineering International, senior vice president of Product Management and Marketing at Echelon, Varun Naraj, (pictured) said that these are the first meters that separate billing data from grid power quality data, helping to cut through the current data deluge that utilities are experiencing

  Echelon provides a clear economic case as to why companies need to embrace smart metering.

  The company noted that while their meters have always had good data collection architecture, utilities tended to ignore that when trouble shooting, in terms of not referring to the data until after the event.

  “Intellectually the utilities began to say they have got to be able to figure out some insights from this information but I’m not sure what those assets really are that allow me to be proactive.

Typically for an outage that impacts 400 homes for six hours, a classic post mortem analysis takes place. The question is you have these pieces of data that you only look at after the fact - why are you not using it?”

Nagaraj says utilities are coming to realise that utilising the data properly and proactively now means the need to call out repair crews, for example, is diminishing.

“The reduction of false positives directly contributes to the reduction of operating costs, because false positives that leads to service roll outs/ actions that may not be required.”

Poul Berthelsen, project manager at NRGi, a leading utility in Denmark, benefiting from Echelon’s product said, "Today, in order to avoid a data deluge from collecting power quality information every 15minutes, we only collect power quality measurements from the low voltage grid after we detect or have customer reports of problems in the network.

However, with a separate data set dedicated for power quality history and troubleshooting data collected on a different cycle than the billing data, we'll be able to review the previously captured data immediately and decrease the time and cost that it used to take for us to conduct analysis in the field."

Nagaraj believes the next steps for Echelon involve the creation of insight reports tailored to provide optimal return from data analysis.

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