Distribution automation and advanced metering system

Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD’s) distribution automation and advanced metering lays groundwork for smart grid.

Apr 30th, 2012

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), one of the most progressive utilities in the nation, is implementing an advanced operating system for its distribution system, the next foundation piece of the SMUD smart grid. The improvements will automate portions of its system with the goal of delivering energy savings through increased efficiencies.

SMUD began building its smart grid by installing an automated metering infrastructure network to accurately read more than 600,000 smart meters across its service territory. The network and meter installations commenced in late 2009 and full deployment is nearly completed. Ultimately, the meters will feed data into SMUD’s outage management system (OMS) providing alert notifications to system operators without the customer needing to notify SMUD.

The advanced operating system component of SMUD’s smart grid initiative includes adding automatic sectionalizing and restoration capabilities to a portion of the distribution system. In addition, the advanced operating system will optimize capacitor bank switching to enable voltage reduction on the distribution circuit reducing demand. After completion of the project in 2013, the estimated benefits from the affected circuits are an approximate 10.4 megawatt reduction of peak summer load and 36,520 megawatt-hours per year of energy savings.

As the advanced operating system require supervisory control and data acquisition- (SCADA-) equipped substations and lines, SMUD aims to retrofit 40 of its 232 distribution substation transformers, making 160, or nearly 70 percent of those transformers, SCADA-equipped. Additionally, reclosers will be installed on more than 100 of its distribution circuits and nearly half of its sub- transmission lines. Both the substation and line SCADA will be installed and operational by April of 2013.

To complement these upgrades, SMUD is improving its current OMS. The new OMS utilizes a web-enabled feature to easily integrate with other smart grid systems, including the automated metering infrastructure to detect outages and notify customers with information such as estimated restoration time and restoration confirmation. In late 2012 SMUD line crews and troubleshooters will be equipped with new mobile data terminals that are integrated with the OMS. The upgrades will provide visual information for distribution system operators that combine and display relevant operational data.

In October 2009, SMUD received a $127.5 million Department of Energy smart grid infrastructure grant, which is being used toward the project’s estimated $350 million total cost. The balance of the project’s cost is being funded in SMUD’s capital budget. The utility’s customer-owners will see no extra charges or rate adjustments in their bills relative to the smart grid project. The project is expected to start realizing a return on investment in about seven years.

For more information about SMUD or other distribution automation and advanced metering systems, click here to go to Utility Products' Buyers Guide.

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