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Dealing with dollars, DSOs and the divide

“Initiatives are transforming the distribution utility models with roadmaps that are ambitious and disruptive in many ways to the business of the past century," said Jason Iacobucci, president of PowerRunner, as he opened the “Bridging the divide: from today to the future grid” session this morning at Utility Analytics Week in Atlanta.

Iacobucci and PowerRunner has been working with Keith Hock, director transmission technical services at Ameren, on getting ahead of the game on future grid models with a way to join IT and OT.

Iacobucci added that “Ameren is in front of the disruption, investing in foundational grid analytics and micro forecasting solutions, merging physical and financial models to facilitate future grid fidelity and revenue structures.”

Hock backed up a step to answer the questions that brought them to the partnership: “What are we thinking about the future? What was our inspiration for the initiatives?” he said.

Hock and Ameren have a vision of the future that sees:

  • CPP being irrelevant with market forces driving the change.
  • Central generation largely disappearing.
  • Exceptions will be wind farms, utility scale solar and utility scale storage.

Hock asked the audience: “How many of you know where your local kerosene dealer is?” When no hands were raised, he continued, “Our kids will likely be having the same issue with the gasoline economy in the future.”

With all those changes, Hock realizes that utilities are “searching for a model that values the services they uniquely provide.”

Part of the future he believes utilities should plan for include regulated markets rather than regulated outcomes, an RTO that will transform to be a more reliability coordinator and operating markets and a DSO that’s more about balancing load.

To get a grasp on that future, Hock and Ameren are working with Iacobucci and PowerRunner on projects that build a customer service engine and then incorporate that customer data into a power flow model (merging customer and ops)---all building blocks leading to that market-level world of transactive energy.

“We can model that behavior at an individual customer level and forecast that level into the future with this engine,” he said. “And now the capabilities are there to move that info into the ops side of the equation.”

Ameren initiatives to bridge that gap to a market approach are starting with the numbers, the stats, the data. First, they’re creating an electricity financial position analysis to provide analytics for their over 2.5 million assts. Next comes an outage management load analysis to get integrated network models for those assets, for AMI data and for micro forecasting. Additionally, they do a system loss analysis looking at temporal near-term losses on the distribution system to reflect locational losses. All of that will lead to a transactive energy distribution locational marginal pricing---to actually build those LMP calculations.

“Modern analytics coupled with better and more data means we can solve these problems in a completely new way,” Hock said.

The collaboration at Utility Analytics Week continues today and tomorrow in Atlanta. Keep an eye out for more insights from Utility Analytics Week live right here in Energy Central’s communities and on Twitter @utilanalytics (the Utility Analytics Institute’s Twitter handle). You can also follow the conference hashtag on Twitter: #UAWeek16

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