This is the second article of a two-part series. For part one, click here.
Mapping and GIS (geographic information system) used to be synonymous with utilities. The GIS system would contain a digitized version of the distribution system, often leaving out details and having no connectivity.
GIS was simply a way to create maps (often paper maps) to get from point A to point B. The GIS would have typical map features of roads, water features, and structures but overlaid on it was the location (often approximate location) of utility assets.
Detailed representations of network features weren’t particularly needed as the line crew would drive to the location indicated and just look around. For a long, long, time, that was good enough.
Gradually though, the needs of the utility evolved. Emphasis on asset management with an eye toward lowering operational expenses became more important.
The slowly evolving concept of a “smart grid” and two-way energy flow necessitated more information for grid planning and management. A geographically presented network model became more and more important. Besides, geographic location, a network model needed a repository of field assets and a means of showing how they were connected to each other.
Further, the impact of the environment on the grid infrastructure became more important for outage management and system planning. Gradually, the “G” in GIS came to be understood as “geospatial” and the purpose of the system was to answer questions and not just create maps.
GIS became the platform where all questions involving “where” were answered.
Utility network model management and geographic information systems (GIS) are closely related as they both use spatial data and mapping to represent and analyze the electric power grid.
- Spatial Data Representation: Utility network models are often based on GIS data, which provides a geographic representation of the distribution network. GIS data can be used to display the location of equipment, such as transformers and switchgear, and the routes of power lines.
- Network Analysis: GIS tools can be used to analyze the utility network model. For example, GIS can be used to perform network tracing, which is used to identify the path of power flows through the network.
- Asset Management: GIS can be used to manage the assets of the utility, such as transformers, switchgear, and other equipment. GIS can provide a visual representation of the assets and their condition, schedule maintenance, and plan for replacement.
- Training personnel: Training personnel on asset management best practices and on the use of new technologies can help utilities to improve their asset management by ensuring that staff members are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively manage assets.
- Continual improvement: Continual improvement of the asset management process is key, by measuring performance, analyzing data, and implementing changes as necessary utilities can further optimize their asset management.
- Overall, improving electric utility asset management requires a combination of technology, planning, and personnel training. By implementing these strategies, utilities can optimize their operations and improve the reliability of their power grid.
- Resilience and Reliability: GIS can be used to analyze the resilience and reliability of the grid. GIS can be used to simulate different scenarios, such as extreme weather events or equipment failures, to identify potential vulnerabilities and plan for contingencies.
- Energy Management: GIS can be used to manage the energy consumption of the grid. GIS can be used to optimize the dispatch of generation resources, such as power plants and renewable energy sources, to meet the demand for electricity.
Overall, GIS plays a vital role in utility network model management as it provides an effective way to store, visualize, and analyze spatial data, allowing utilities to make more informed decisions about their network operations.
There are several ways to improve electric utility asset management:
- Implementing a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS): A CMMS can be used to track and schedule maintenance activities, as well as to keep records of equipment performance and failure.
- Conducting regular inspections and audits: Regular inspections and audits can help to identify potential problems early on and schedule maintenance before equipment failure occurs.
- Utilizing condition-based monitoring: By collecting data on the condition of equipment, utilities can identify when maintenance is needed, rather than relying on time-based maintenance schedules.
- Implementing an asset management plan: An asset management plan can help utilities to prioritize and plan for the maintenance and replacement of equipment, as well as to budget for those activities.
- Investing in new technologies: Technologies such as IoT and advanced analytics can help utilities to improve their asset management by providing real-time data on equipment performance and enabling predictive maintenance.
- Collaborating with other utilities and vendors: Sharing information and best practices with other utilities and vendors can help utilities to improve their asset management by learning from others’ experiences.
There are several standards that are commonly used in electric utility network model management:
- IEC 61970 and IEC 61968 (aka Common Information Model or CIM): The CIM is a semantic standard for representing power system data in a common format. The CIM represents power system data and is widely used for creating and maintaining electric utility network models. It is used by many utilities for exchanging and storing network data.
- GIS standards: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are widely used in electric utility network model management, and GIS standards such as the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards are used to ensure compatibility and interoperability between GIS systems.
- International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61850: This international standard provides a common data model for representing the communication and control aspects of power systems and is widely used in electric utility network model management.
- International Standards Organization (ISO) 55000: This standard provides guidelines for the management of physical assets, including the development of asset management plans, and can be used in electric utility network model management.
- International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61400-25-1: This standard provides guidelines for the management of wind turbine data and can be used in electric utility network model management.
These standards are widely adopted and used in the electric utility industry, and provide a common format and structure for data representation, communication, and management. Adopting these standards ensures that the data is accurate and consistent, and can be easily shared and integrated with other systems.
John J. Simmins is the Executive Director of the NYS Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology (CACT) at Alfred University. In this position, he supports sponsored research for approximately 50 engineering faculty and 50 graduate students. Alfred provides undergraduate and graduate degrees in Renewable Energy Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, as well as Glass and Ceramic Engineering. Dr. Simmins spent ten years at EPRI as a Technical Executive before going to Alfred. At EPRI he studied the intersection of augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and geospatial information systems. He holds a B.S. and Ph.D. in Ceramic Engineering from Alfred University.
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