Smart Grid: Next Steps
Recognizing the potential of adopting more Smart Grid capabilities RPU developed the following Smart Grid vision statement:
“RPU will prudently adopt Smart Grid technologies that provide customer value in reliability and service.”
The improvement of efficiency and performance in all sectors (customer, distribution, and generation) and the environmental impacts are the main goal of this Smart Grid vision.
We have a strong start, but RPU, like other utilities, faces major challenges to meet the changing needs of our customers in a Smart Grid environment. RPU’s next steps will be crucial in building a smooth transition. These steps include:
- EDUCATE CUSTOMERS
The utility industry is currently demonstrating that the average consumer is not prepared nor can relate to some of the smart grid terms that are being used such as time varying rate structures, market or green pricing, smart devices, and advanced control systems. RPU is determined to provide more education and outreach programs (such as our Home Energy Reports) that inform customers about the costs to provide electrical service, how behaviors affect those costs, and what they can do to reduce electricity consumption.
- EXPAND EXISTING SERVICES
RPU has the potential to expand the services and choices already offered to customers, especially residential customers, by implementing technologies such as smart meters that provide them with more detailed information and rate structures that promote energy conservation.
Smart meters, sometimes referred to as AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) meters, wirelessly send information about electricity use to the utility. These meters can be teamed up with in-home display systems that show current usage along with potential price signals from the utility, indicate potential problems with “smart appliances”, talk to thermostats, and basically encourage customers to use less energy when it’s most expensive.
- FURTHER IMPROVE RELIABILITY
RPU has high reliable service, but outages do happen. Automation and remote control on distribution lines and substation equipment throughout the system could further improve reliability. Monitoring system power through smart meters, adding remote control and automation capabilities to capacitor banks, and adding remote control and automated switching equipment could enhance reliability and quickening RPU’s response time.
- PREPARE FOR DATA MANAGEMENT
The implementation of technologies that heighten digital data and control systems and engaging customer participation could affect major areas of RPU’s system. Prior to field installation of smart devices, RPU needs to consider the impacts and how to manage, store, and secure greater amounts of data and information. RPU will evaluate processes and information capabilities such as meter data management systems, changes to the billing structures, and customer relationship management.