Perspectives

White Paper

Beyond the Smart Meter:
Analytics are the Key to Capturing Benefits

Despite the operational and demand response benefits of smart meters, the business case remains elusive for many companies due to factors such as high AMI installation costs. Building and using analytical capabilities can transform the return equation.

Operational Savings

Your AMI solution with smart meters, interval reads, and a Meter Data Management System (MDMS) will unleash a host of significant operational savings, including:

  • Reduced meter reading expense
  • Fewer truck rolls for service orders
  • Meter disconnects/reconnects
  • "False” outages and power quality
  • Power quality checks
  • Outage verification
  • More refined outage detection (less "walking about")
  • Lower theft

The above are enabled via AMI two-way communications, MDMS alerts and business rules, and the real-time ability to “ping” meters for status and power quality data. These operational savings are significant and generally cover about 40% to 70% of AMI installation costs.

DEMAND RESPONSE (DR) SAVINGS

DR programs (including direct load control), represent the primary non operational benefit from your AMI solution capabilities. Interval meter reads enable the use of general time-of-use (TOU) programs as well as more specific critical peak pricing (CPP) programs. These programs allow customers lower-priced energy during periods of the day when demand is lowest and higher priced energy when demand is high. DR programs can deliver benefits equal to 50% – 100% (and above) of AMI installation costs from avoided generation costs and grid optimization. The stakes around maximizing your DR benefits are high.

To achieve these benefit levels, customer participation needs to be in the range of 30% – 80%. However, most AMI pilots and programs never reach anywhere near these customer participation levels. Mandated or “opt out” DR programs are the easy answer, but state energy commissions have not been willing to allow/approve these non voluntary programs (although some states do mandate load control participation for larger C&I customers). Gaining the participation you need to deliver on the promise of DR requires marketing the DR programs to customers and this is not cheap. Experience has shown that customer acquisition rates can run in the $250 - $500 range. The key, therefore, is marketing programs to the “right” customers.

The Value of Data Analytics

Data analysis/analytics is key to tapping the potential of non operational benefits. Analytics will answer questions such as:

  • What customer segments should be targeted to optimize demand response (DR) program success?
  • What specific customers should be targeted to optimize grid investments e.g. defer the need for new T&D investment?
  • How should DR products be priced to ensure optimal load control?
  • How to create transparency between utility power costs and customer prices e.g. linkages to wholesale markets or average production costs?
  • How can cash flow (billing) be improved?
  • What is the opportunity to improve accounts receivable and increase revenue realization?

Analytics can supply the intelligence you need to tap the right customer segments to optimize DR program participation and benefits. Using MDMS load profile information, CIS customer information, and additional psychographic and demographic data sources, target customer segments can be identified and mined to optimize DR participation and associated benefits.

Analytics-enabled development and evolution of customer segmentation, targeting, and acquisition can ensure available DR benefits are maximized early in the process and ongoing participation is expanded in a disciplined, thoughtful, and cost effective manner over the life of your AMI assets.

This DR program analytics example is just one of many, many opportunities to mine value from your AMI solution and rich MDMS data stores. While operational benefits are a "no brainer," let analytics drive intelligent benefits optimization for your AMI solution.

Bridge Strategy Group is an experience-led general management consultancy committed to helping our clients rapidly improve their business performance.

For more information, please contact us at 312-357-6740.