As utilities are gearing up to deploy the smart grid and expand it over time with the installation of thousands and sometimes millions of smart meters, they are not only faced with the formidable task of managing the huge volume of data generated by these meters and other intelligent devices on the smart grid, but they must also determine how to take advantage of all this data. They must be able to transform the raw data into useful information that can guide their business decisions and actions, especially with regard to grid operation and customer relationship and management. Therefore, the ability to perform data analytics becomes a critical undertaking. Otherwise, a utility organization can become very data rich, yet very information poor.
Through smart grid data analytics, utilities can turn the masses of data into business value in various ways. First, data analytics will improve their ability to run a more efficient and effective grid operation than ever before – especially with respect to revenue loss management, load management, outage management, asset management, and energy management. Second, analysis of data can provide enormous benefits from a customer management perspective because customer data is one of the most important assets a utility possesses. Thanks to data analytics, utilities can identify and correct customer issues. In addition, it allows them to understand customer behavior and preferences better. Smart metering with increased data availability, for example, at 15 minute intervals, makes it possible for utilities to respond to any customer changes quickly and appropriately. As a result, they are able to serve their customers more effectively with new products and services – providing the opportunity for a utility to generate new revenue streams.
The ability to monetize the explosion of AMI data can be expected to become a major economic driver for further investments among utilities in smart meters and the smart grid in the coming years. Vendors that have developed expertise in this area will most likely enjoy robust demand for their software and services in the future. One such software vendor is GridGlo, a smart data mining, aggregation and fusion provider, based in Delray Beach, Florida, which has been working with several major utilities to obtain intelligent and actionable consumer information by integrating consumer behavioral data with energy consumption data. GridGlo’s proprietary software platform enables a utility client to create a consumer energy profile that shows when, where, and how much energy is consumed. By aggregating this data from a group of consumers (to avoid any privacy concerns by looking at individual consumer data) and integrating it with other data, such as demographics, weather, zip codes, and other behavioral information, GridGlo is able to monetize the data for utilities by:
- Developing personalized services or software solutions that are uniquely customized for the specific consumer segment that the utility client wants to target. Presumably, consumers would be interested in obtaining this more “individualized” service or product for a fee.
- Reducing their load reserve or inventory (e.g. from 8% to 10%) thanks to more accurate and reliable forecasting and modeling tools some utilities in certain regional markets are able to generate and sell more energy to their consumers.
- Decreasing the probability of energy theft and abandonment (i.e. lack of payment of energy bills) through better understanding and forecasting of certain consumer segments can help utilities save a great deal of money over time.
By finding ways to monetize AMI data, GridGlo is not only helping utilities gain business value from their smart meters but also enabling them to move beyond risk mitigation and focus on growth and innovation. With adoption of smart grid technology, utilities are evolving from solely being distributors of energy to also becoming information brokers and analysts.