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Utility2Utility: Reykjavik Energy (Iceland)

Iceland, Europe’s most sparsely populated country with a population clocking in under 330,000 (or approximately equal to the count of mid-sized Cali town Santa Ana), is isolated in the Artic---literally an island unto itself.  Half of the country’s citizens are served by a single distribution utility, Reykjavik Energy.

For this installment of Utility2Utility, we speak with Eirikur Hjalmarsson, Reykjavik Energy's head of communications about grid modernization and a new ADMS project. 

Could you give us a little history on Reykjavik Energy and its place in the power network in Iceland?

Hjalmarsson: Reykjavik Energy is a multi-utility company that is primarily owned by the City of Reykjavik and dates back to the initiation of Reykjavik Water Works in 1909. Its electricity services date back to 1921, when a hydro power station was built in the city’s vicinity. Currently, the company serves about one-half of Iceland’s population with electric distribution and operates two state-of-the-art geothermal power plants that co-generate electricity (433-megawatt capacity) and hot water for the capital area’s district heating system. Besides operating the water works, heating system and electric distribution grid, Reykjavik Energy also operates the city’s sewerage and fiber optic networks.

Tell us about your efforts to modernize and optimize your grid network.

Hjalmarsson: Reykjavik Energy constantly seeks to improve its services. The reliability of our electricity delivery is quite good, but we seek to better inform our customers in instances where delivery is disturbed. Currently, we are developing web-based ways to contact our customers, as well as through SMS, but in order for these systems to be effective, it is imperative to obtain reliable information on the status of our grid. That is why we are improving our system and that is where GE’s ADMS system comes in to play.

How does this project with GE involving ADMS work into those efforts, and what was the impetus for the project?

Hjalmarsson: ADMS enables us to better see what effects disturbances and maintenance have on the delivery of electricity for our individual customers, thus enabling us to supply them with more accurate, real-time information. With this information, we can better assess our grid and provide out customer with important information regarding their electricity usage and more accurate outage restoration timeframes. 

What hurdles will an ADMS help you overcome?

Hjalmarsson: Implementing this ADMS has enabled us to view the functionality of our grid in a much clearer way. The technology allows us to see what is happening on any given section of our grid in real time. This includes spikes in demand, weather-related outages or maintenance that is taking place. This type of instant information is both beneficial to us as a provider and to our customers. We are able to see disturbances on our grid as they occur, enabling us to make timely, informed decisions about how to best utilize our assets and personnel to restore power to our customers.

What benefits do you expect with this project for both you and your customers?

Hjalmarsson: The real-time data collection and visualization capabilities of the ADMS enable us to view crucial grid operation and efficiency data in a completely new way. With the system’s interface, we are able to identify potential problems and disturbances, locate the problem area and dispatch repair crews faster than previously possible. We also are able to keep our customers informed as to when their power may be disrupted and to let them know how long they are expected to be without electricity.   

What advice would you give other utilities tackling similar projects?

Hjalmarsson: I think it is important to keep customers in mind when systems of this kind are renewed and when opportunities to improve the grid’s functionality are presented. New systems allow for important, real-time grid information to be gathered efficiently. We should constantly consider how we can use this information to further our customer services.


Read more from our Utility2Utility series: 

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