Grid Modernization

DEED grant utilized for tool to manage flood of AMI data

Algona Municipal Utilities in Iowa, working with Iowa State University, has used a grant from the American Public Power Association’s Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments (DEED) program to develop a tool to help utilities make better use of the flood of data available from advanced metering infrastructure.

Specifically, the DEED grant was used to enable Algona Municipal Utilities to extract portions of its AMI data to better characterize and understand the variability of load behavior of different customer classes and the contribution of different rate classes on peak load and energy consumption.

In its final report, Algona Municipal Utilities noted that the DEED research project was unique because, until now, no project had focused on leveraging AMI data to model and understand customer load behavior.

Funds for a second grant were approved by the DEED board at its fall 2018 meeting. The next phase of the project will be starting soon. Algona Municipal Utilities and Iowa State University will use the funds to further study ways to analyze AMI data.

The point of the grant was to find “something that is cost effective and hopefully useful to us and other municipal electric utilities across the U.S.,” John Bilsten, general manager of Algona Municipal Utilities, said in a webinar to discuss the DEED grant results.

The main problem the researchers set out to solve was to find a way to take the vast amount of data available from AMI devices and make it intelligible.

As it is, even AMI data from as few as 1,400 customers would exceed the capacities of a popular spreadsheet program like Excel. But using MATLAB development tools, the researchers were able to develop a standalone application that enables a user to import AMI data along with customer class information, feeder identification and temperature data and select portions of the data for display and export that information as graphs and tables in Excel or as text files.

The user can use the application to choose different time periods, different customer classes, or different feeders for analysis. The application also offers the option of displaying load profiles, load factor, load duration curves, and customer classification within a rate class.

The main benefit of the software is “to take something that is unmanageable and turn it into something that is manageable,” Anne Kimber, director of the Electric Power Research Center at Iowa State University, said during the webinar. “You can take data sets you could not look at easily and extract it into smaller chunks and look at it in detail,” she said. The result was a “useful tool that is pretty easy to run,” Bilsten said.

The ability to more easily analyze AMI data will enable utilities to better define customer groups to determine whether they should be a large commercial customer or a small commercial customer, for instance, or even a new customer class, which is particularly useful when it comes to rate design, Bilsten said.

The software can also be used to look at the variability of customer load by different rate classes. Looking at residential demand by hourly peak load by feeder, for instance, could be very useful for estimating demand, Kimber said.

While conducting the DEED grant project, “We realized there was another gap,” Bilsten said. “We wanted to take a look at additional things,” he said in order to be better able to consider reclassifying certain customers on the basis of their consumption patterns.

The webinar is available in the Association’s product store and the final reports, user manual, tool developed, and webinar are accessible to DEED members from the DEED project database, a key word searchable repository of all reports and deliverables created from DEED projects. 

For additional information about the DEED program, click here.