Utility analytics: C3 Energy wants you to spend a dime to save a dollar
By: SGN Staff
By Jesse Berst
It was just recently that I celebrated the arrival of analytics powerhouse SAS Institute to the utility market in a serious way. Now I'm back to tell you about another entrant with even more firepower.
C3 Energy was formed by billionaire Tom Siebel, who formerly revolutionized customer relationship management (CRM). Now he's put together an all-star team to target smart grid analytics. Read on for the implications as I see them, or turn to Page 2 to read how the company talks about itself. Don't hesitate to agree or disagree using the Talk Back form at the bottom of the page.
I got a call from Tom recently to tell me he has a company that is "rocking the smart grid analytics space." It's certainly hard to dispute the credentials of the C3 Energy executive team or its board of directors. To use Siebel's words, they "all have two Super Bowl rings" already.
I see at least six implications for our industry:
1. Smart grid analytics is now officially a Big Deal. Tom Siebel and his team have the money, know-how and connections to enter virtually any industry. They decided that the big money was here.
2. The importance of channel. One of the secrets to Tom's previous success was his 1996 agreement with Accenture to standardize on his Siebel Systems CRM software. With Accenture's help he went on to gain 75% market share. Guess what? He's made a similar deal with Accenture for smart grid analytics.
3. The importance of a platform. Siebel started this latest company in 2009. They spent their first years pulling together a powerful platform for big data aggregation and analytics. Then they started building a family of applications on top of that engine ("portals" in their terms). They've already build applications for AMI, demand response, EV charging, asset health, asset management, outage management and more. "Once we have the engine, standing up another application is trivial," he said.
4. The importance of scale. Siebel told me that C3 Energy is federating and normalizing 4.5 billion records per hour coming from 19 different systems amounting to 28 billion rows of data (for customer PG&E). "Nobody else is doing analytics at this scale," he asserted.
5. Value-based pricing comes to the smart grid. When I quizzed him about pricing models, Siebel said the basic model was to "agree on the economic benefit then price it at 10% of that number." He cites a McKinsey analysis that pegs the value of revenue protection at nearly $10 per meter per year (by cutting theft in half). And he says fault prediction can return $22 per meter per year. This kind of hard-dollar benefit analysis is not just the right way for vendors to approach the market. It's also the right way for utilities to talk to their regulators and ratepayers. (Caution: you have to be able to document your real-world results, of course.)
6. The big industrials have a worthy challenger. In December 2012, I explained why General Electric is trying to become a software company. Because they know so much about hardware, they think they can do a great job building software to analyze it. You won't be surprised to hear that Siebel doesn't agree. "If people like GE and Siemens have ever built a successful software business, I don't know about it," he told me. "I've never made a turbine or a phone system, but my team and I have built some of the largest, most successful enterprise applications ever for the past 25 years."
I don't know yet who's going to win. But I do know the increased competition will benefit utilities with more choice and lower prices.
C3 Energy Announces New Smart Grid Analytics Solutions to Improve Grid Asset Risk Management and Investment Planning
Also announces new applications to streamline and track AMI deployments
Redwood City, Calif. - June 10, 2013 - C3 Energy today announced the availability of three new smart grid analytics applications for utilities - C3 Asset and System Riskâ„¢, C3 Customer Reliability and Safetyâ„¢, and C3 Grid Investment Planningâ„¢. These analytics applications help utilities continuously identify grid assets at risk of failure and direct capital investments to the grid assets with the potential for the most significant customer safety and reliability impact.
C3 Energy also announced C3 AMI Operationsâ„¢, enabling utilities to track the deployment status and operation of AMI meters. C3 AMI Operations helps ensure timely and accurate meter data to support customer billing and effective utility decision making.
The new C3 Energy smart grid applications deliver a broad range of benefits, including:
Â· Up to $50/meter per year in value to utility operators and their customers;
Â· Improved AMI deployment effectiveness;
Â· Identification of grid assets at risk of failure;
Â· Capital investment optimization;
Â· Improved SAIDI, SAIFI, and CEMI reliability scores;
Â· Improved customer satisfaction; and
Â· Improved power reliability and safety.
C3 Energy’s new grid analytics solutions deliver a unified view of meter deployments, system risks, and customer impacts,” said Ed Abbo, President and Chief Technical Officer, C3 Energy. "Customer-level reliability data and asset risk scoring enable utility operators to understand the impacts of specific investments on reliability and customer satisfaction and plan their investments to optimize performance.”
By aggregating data from all relevant customer and grid operational systems, as well as external data sources, and subjecting this data to extensive real-time analytics, C3 Energy’s Grid Analyticsâ„¢ solutions provide real-time, actionable insights for utility grid operators.
C3 Asset & System Risk
C3 Energy’s unified product architecture enables the real-time assessment of the health of the power delivery system. Utility operators can identify assets at risk for failure - e.g. substations, pole-top transformers, or power lines - and repair or replace them preemptively. The ability to track and monitor asset health in real-time lowers operating costs, helps prevent outages, and minimizes unexpected capital investments.
C3 Asset & System Risk computes an Asset Risk Score - a function that takes account of both the probability of failure and the criticality of particular assets - for all network assets, from the substation to the distribution feeder to the customer meter. The Asset Risk Score helps utility operators identify distribution network components at high risk of failure and with a large impact on customers.
C3 Asset & System Risk also creates workforce management orders to optimize inspection and maintenance schedules for at-risk assets, and enables a quantitative, enterprise-wide approach to assessing system risk and managing service reliability.
C3 Customer Reliability & Safety
C3 Customer Reliability & Safety leverages the data integrated by the platform - including asset risk - to assess reliability and service impacts at a customer or meter level. The analytics and business intelligence from C3 Customer Reliability & Safety enable operators and managers to understand the impact that actual and potential outages, asset failures, and grid investments can have on their customer base.
With this insight, utilities can proactively address reliability concerns with individual customers in mind. Utilities are able to effectively and specifically communicate with their customers about reliability and service history, as well as identify regions at high risk of failure due to historical underinvestment. This includes communications regarding planned outages, outage restoration efforts, or the positive impacts of targeted grid investments.
Utilities can also better target demand response and energy efficiency efforts toward vulnerable areas.
C3 Grid Investment Planning
C3 Grid Investment Planning provides utilities with an enterprise-wide framework to effectively evaluate capital investment alternatives and strategically assess competing priorities.
C3 Grid Investment Planning ranks grid investment portfolio alternatives based on a cash flow analysis and impact to system and customer reliability, and helps build informed business cases for asset replacement. Integrating system risk and customer reliability criteria into the development of multi-year investment and expense pipelines helps maximize limited resources while delivering on performance objectives.
C3 Grid Investment Planning reduces operations and maintenance (O&M) expenses and helps optimize capital expenditures by directing investments to the circuits that are at the greatest risk of outage.
C3 AMI Operations
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) - and the 60-second and 15-minute interval data enabled by smart meters - offers utilities the opportunity to gain new insights into both the health of grid assets and the quality of the customer experience.
C3 AMI Operations provides utility operators with the analytics necessary to capitalize on AMI data and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their smart meter systems.
C3 AMI Operations works with a utility’s existing workforce management tools to both streamline the deployment and logistics of new AMI systems and improve the operational health of existing systems. Functionalities include: identifying meter software/firmware issues; diagnosing physical meter and communications issues; and streamlining processes to resolve work orders.
Utility operators benefit from improved operator and worker productivity, increased billing accuracy from smart meters, increased revenue, reduced costs, less downtime, fewer system failures, and improved customer satisfaction.
C3 Asset and System Riskâ„¢, C3 Customer Reliability and Safetyâ„¢, C3 Grid Investment Planningâ„¢ and C3 AMI Operationsâ„¢ will be available for production deployment in Summer 2013.
About C3 Energy
C3 Energy is an enterprise application software company that harnesses the power of big data, smart grid analytics, social networking, and cloud computing to improve the safety, reliability, and efficiency of power delivery. C3 Energy’s family of utility-tested and proven smart grid analytics products deliver end-to-end solutions across the entire smart grid, from energy grid capital asset allocation, transmission, distribution, and advanced metering, to the customer experience and energy efficiency programs. C3 Energy products enable utility operators to realize the full benefit of their smart grid and energy system investments. Contact: C3Energy.com.
Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.