Puget Sound Energy, in its 2016 Smart Grid Technology Report filed on Sept. 1 with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), said that over the next 10 years, it intends to, among other initiatives, deploy two-way automated metering technology to refresh the aging legacy automated meter reading (AMR) infrastructure.
The company said it also intends to:
- Enhance the customer experience by automatically providing information and services to the customer related to outage notification, start/stop service, usage data and other capabilities
- Expand deployment of self-healing technology that automatically reroutes power during outages to improve electric system reliability
- Deploy energy storage pilot projects and continue to research and evaluate emerging energy storage technologies
- Provide customers with easy-to-use energy management tools and information
- Integrate customer equipment, such as electric vehicles and customer-owned power generation
- Upgrade and replace aging infrastructure as needed – for IT networks, back-end information systems and the electric and natural gas systems – with consideration to implementing a smarter grid
- Evaluate and selectively deploy other customer energy management programs and pilot projects
The company said that it is actively engaged in several projects that improve system reliability and provide more information and choice to customers, including:
- Its automated meter modules, which collect energy usage information from electric and gas meters that enables customers to check and manage their daily electricity and natural gas usage online
- Its more than 4,000 residential customers with grid-connected solar and wind systems who generate their own power and supply excess energy back to the grid
- Improving reliability on its electric grid by expanding automation and installing grid-scale storage
Puget Sound said that a smarter grid enhances two of its core objectives: maintaining high system reliability and efficiency and empowering customers with the ability to manage their energy efficiently. The company noted that it has been serving its customers with smart grid components for more than 35 years, before the term “smart grid” was widely known.
Puget Sound also said that customer adoption continues to be a key driver in its deployment of customer facing smart grid technologies. For instance, electric vehicles (EV) and charging stations, customer energy generation, demand response and home automation can all affect the grid at its most local level, the company said.
Puget Sound said that as new customer installations grow and begin to increase peak load on the transmission and distribution systems, it will need to consider several smart grid capabilities to help manage and optimize the system – from timely access to data from the grid to customer programs, such as demand response and load control.
The 2017-2018 Plan, in terms of energy use information and feedback, includes continuing to improve upon personalized online energy management tools for customers to take better control of their energy use. In terms of customer energy generation, the 2017-2018 Plan includes evaluating the opportunity for pilots and/or projects involving smart meters and direct-to-customer-computer and smart phone messaging, the company added.
Puget Sound also said that the 2017-2018 Plan, in terms of plug-in EVs, includes evaluating the EV charger program to gather updated information on vehicle charging locations and load curves specific to the company’s customers; and comparing those results with earlier studies, the company’s normal system load shape and renewable resources.
The company further noted that the 2017-2018 Plan involving transmission automation and reliability includes continuing a program to upgrade existing transmission automatic switch schemes as needed; those upgrades will be based on specific benefit, cost and available funding.
The 2017-2018 Plan regarding distribution automation projects includes continuing a pilot program to deploy sensors on distribution lines to provide information about system performance for fault location and predictive outage analytics, the company said.
Among other things, the company said that one key to successful smart grid deployment will be the prudent and systematic introduction of smart grid technology at each level of infrastructure: at the customer premises, in the electric grid and in Puget Sound’s information systems.
The company also said that since smart grid technology is continually evolving, a prudent approach will include continued evaluation of smart grid technologies. Those evaluations will ensure that technologies deliver anticipated benefits and results; that they follow industry standards; that vendors will continue to support and develop/improve the technologies over time; and that the technologies are cost-effective, the company said.