Smart Electric Meters are a necessary component of distributed energy systems, smart grids, and microgrids to communicate and manage power in both directions.
Regulated utilities Con Edison and Orange & Rockland (O&R) Utilities have chosen Silicon Valley-based Silver Springs Networks´ smart grid networking, data and control platform as they embark on the next phase of ambitious Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) projects. The expected benefits range from boosting energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions to delivering more reliable, resilient, convenient and lower cost energy, products and services to customers.
Combined, Con Edison and O&R Utilities’ AMI project plans entail rolling out over 5 million smart electric meters (3.9 million) and gas modules (1.3 million) across their respective New York City and metro area service territories, according to a Silver Springs press release. The utilities’ AMI plans await final approval by the NYS Public Service Commission.
Silver Springs’ communications-computing platform will reside at the core of the utilities’ AMI systems, connecting to all the smart electric meters and gas modules to create an interactive environment that links Con Edison and O&R Utilities directly to all their customers, enabling both to collaborate and improve the way in which energy is produced, distributed and consumed.
Many and Varied Benefits
The award of the Silver Springs contract marks Con Edison progressing from the initial planning to Phase 2 and preparing for Phase 3 of its AMI project. The utility carried out a comprehensive AMI planning effort in 2015, which included completing a detailed cost-benefit analysis. In addition, Phase 1 included selecting AMI system equipment, software, and services, and developing the AMI Implementation Plan.
Carried out over the course of 2016, in Phase 2 communications and IT work Con Edison intends to design, configure, test and bring the AMI system’s back-office ICT systems online. Silver Spring’s AMI communications-computing platform will be rolled out in Phase 3, the project’s implementation phase, which is to commence in 2017 and draw to a close in 2022.
The anticipated results and benefits Con Edison expects are many and varied, ranging from directly engaging customers in demand response management (DRM) and enabling real-time monitoring and management of distributed energy resources (DERs) to significantly improving outage detection and speeding up power restoration time.
The AMI system also is expected to enhance grid operation by maintaining optimum voltage levels. That, in turn, will reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, the AMI communications-computing network will have the capability to automate distribution, the integration of sensing devices and deployment of applications that benefit customers.
Smart Electric Meters Benefits
New York’s Clean Energy Grid Takes Shape
In addition, the AMI infrastructure is expected to result in lower customer energy bills. One aspect of this is the prospect of eliminating the need for utility field staff to schedule appointments and travel to customers’ homes and businesses to take meter readings.
The AMI project is a key facet of Con Edison’s efforts to help realize New York State’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), a groundbreaking strategic vision that aims to enhance the efficiency, reliability and resiliency of New York’s power grids while at the same time reducing carbon emissions, environmental impacts and engages customers directly so they can better understand, manage and control energy usage. New York State has set a goal of reducing state-wide carbon emissions 80% by 2050.
Distributed clean energy microgrids also play a role in realizing the energy transformation expressed in New York State’s REV. Feasibility studies are under way in 83 cities, towns and communities across the state as part of the NY Prize competition.
Silver Spring’s standards-based open source IPv6 software platform connects to a rapidly expanding range of connected devices and equipment – in homes, shops, offices and vehicles to manufacturing facilities, water, gas and power grids and transportation systems.
To date, Silver Springs has delivered some 22 million connected devices as part of deployments large and small in scale, according to the company. That’s an example of what is just the first stage of power utilities playing a key role in the fast emerging ¨Internet of Everything¨ and the ongoing digital ICT transformation that has disrupted and reshaped industry sectors and markets across the economy and continues to sweep across society to change our everyday lives.
Andrew is a well seasoned and traveled freelance reporter and editor, covering the the nexus where new energy technology, markets, ecosystems and political economy intersect and overlap.