This reveals, once again, that the utilities/Corp America are lying to the public about the capabilities of the Smart Grid Technology. What are they selling to the public that will benefit and enrich our lives. It certainly is not a cost savings to the consumer as they promised; in order to hook everyone. This was their only selling point. The second, was that it would make the grid more efficient. We have had several power outages, yearly. When we call National Grid to report the outages; a voice activated message responds listing towns with outages. Our town is never one on the list when we call. When we reach a live person; we are the ones informing them of the power outage. When we call for updates and or estimated time of repair or to find out what the issue is; they NEVER know! It is all a bunch of bullshit; the technology is not what it was promised to be. The only ones benefitting are the investors. The most important issue being the harmful effects of smart metering has totally been minimized and ignored! Human lives are not their concern……Sandaura
Survey says: smart meters not primary source of outage info
Customers still reign
What we learned from the recent BRIDGE Energy Group Utility Industry Survey on outage and restoration management was interesting, if perhaps a bit unsettling — namely that despite all those smart meters, customers remain the #1 source for outage info, whether that outage is storm-related or “blue sky,” as we say. Even though over 80% of electric utilities have smart meters, those aren’t, apparently, being utilized as a primary very often — or even as a secondary source of outage info. (That award goes to the SCADA system.)
This survey result came as a bit of a surprise to even the surveyors, especially Forrest Small, vice president of grid reliability at BRIDGE.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about the pros and cons of smart meters,” he told us when we asked a few questions about the survey. “On one hand, there are those that see this technology as intrusive and expensive with an unproven value, while others embrace the ongoing utility industry transformation and realize how smart meters can play a key role. Smart meters can be beneficial, but they aren’t a panacea. As with all technologies, smart meters must be properly installed and integrated with detailed training, change management and communication for utility personnel and customers. Adoption success is dependent on effective change management programs that include: knowledge transfer programs, education & training, human factors and organization streamlining.”
In other words, Small sees success as an option for smart meters when it comes to outage notification, but we’re just not getting it to work together in quite the right way.
So, what’s the problem? Well, that problem may have layers — like an onion, to quote Shrek. First, all those things Small already mentioned, especially system integration — or the lack thereof — that impedes OMS projects. Also, utilities actually tend to overestimate their reliability.
Seriously. They do. According to the survey, nearly 81% of those surveyed rated their own reliability above average or even went so far as to label themselves industry leaders. And, as we all know from our painful grade school years, we can’t all be above average.
So, why do utilities overestimate their reliability performance? Small blames a numbers deficit, a lack of scientific basis.
“Fundamentally, this points to a lack of quantitative analysis,” he said. “Without a concerted effort to first collect input from customers, regulators and internal constituents and then objectively compare those results to the industry, the results from individual utilities will lack a general baseline and consensus.
“It may also be because individual utilities recognize that they are improving in reliability performance and may not see the degree to which their peers are improving at the same time,” he added.
So you’re doing better but that doesn’t mean you’re doing better than your neighbor is.
Despite the skewed reliability issue and the also-ran placement of meter data in the overall outage management hierarchy, most utilities are actually pretty happy with their outage systems — even more than last year’s study. An additional head-scratcher can be added with this information: There was no year-over-year change in satisfaction with estimated time of restoration (ETR) numbers or with initial damage assessment (IDA) numbers. So, ETR and IDA are basically each a wash with last year, yet more people are happy with their OMS systems. If the ETR and IDA numbers aren’t better, why are they happier with their OMS?
Small said, “It may be that in responding to the question about satisfaction with an OMS, utilities focused on how well the system and software work for managing outage information. The ability to consistently provide accurate ETRs depends on good outage information but also on the ability to effectively assess damage and manage the field workforce. In our experience, many utilities are just now focusing on building capabilities in the latter two areas.”
Small added that he hopes utilities takeaway three major lessons from this study of their peers. First, that tech is helpful, but you have to also pay attention to the people and process parts of the equation. He suggests you plan, then measure, and then re-plan. And, finally, he wants you to remember that key need for system integration in getting that value out of smart meters.
If we get all of that in place, we may get smart meters to the top of that outage notification list after all. We’ll have to check next year’s survey.