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New study: We did AMI all wrong. Here's a better way

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Quick Take: I've speculated many times why so many utilities began their smart grid transformation with advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). It might have made more sense to start with system improvements instead. Modernization projects with a quick payback. And, especially, projects that didn't involve convincing millions of customers to a) accept smart meters and b) change their behavior.

 

As a new study from the Smart Grid Research Consortium points out, many utilities are trying to cost-justify their AMI investments with demand response programs. But DR requires months (years?) to sign people up and an ongoing (neverending?) campaign to keep them enrolled and responding.

 

CVR may be a better way to cost-justify smart meters. You take the meter data and use it to direct your CVR efforts. In essence, you use CVR as your own, in-house DR program that you can adjust whenever and however you want. Without requiring a single interaction with a customer.

 

Incidentally, CVR is becoming much more affordable and much more "surgical" thanks to decentralized edge devices from innovative startups such as Varentec. I recommend that you look over these new findings. - Jesse Berst

 

Low-Cost CVR May Pay for Your AMI System

 New Study Turns Traditional Smart Grid Business Case Analysis on its Head

 

February 6, 2014 – Orlando, FL – The Smart Grid Research Consortium (SGRC) today announced results of a recently-completed study that identifies a new smart grid investment strategy that can transform a poor AMI business case into an attractive investment.  

 

Many electric cooperatives and public utilities have rejected AMI systems because expected meter-related benefits are not compelling enough to outweigh costs.  Adding demand response savings boosts benefit-cost ratios; however, the uncertainty and long lead times surrounding these customer engagement programs add more risk.  Adding distribution automation (DA) benefits and costs including customer valuations of improved reliability provide added costs and benefits but leave utility decision-makers skeptical.

 

A new SGRC study shows that joint AMI and low-cost conservation voltage reduction enabled with smart meters can provide a compelling business case for many of these utilities with little risk.  

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The study summary whitepaper is available at http://www.smartgridresearchconsortium.org/amicvr.pdf