Echelon grid analytics meter software helps utilities avoid service outages

Echelon Corporation, a provider of energy control networking for smart grid, smart city and smart building applications, on Wednesday announced the availability of new Control Operating System (COS) software for its smart meter portfolio that allows smart meters to be upgraded in the field to function as multi-parameter grid sensors, in addition to serving as billing devices.

 These meters separate billing data from grid power quality data - such as voltage, frequency and power factor - so that they can be read on independent time cycles. By separating these data types, the utility can collect relevant power quality information on an as-required basis, instead of collecting large volumes of billing and operational data from each meter on every read cycle, says Echelon (San Jose, Calif., USA). This enables the utility's communications infrastructure and analytics applications to minimize the volume of data collected and processed, while increasing its usefulness.

"The use of the meter as a grid sensor gives us a unique opportunity to collect measurements for analysis of any problems in the network without affecting the 15-minute interval measurements we use as the basis to bill our customers," said Poul Berthelsen, project manager at NRGi, a utility company in Denmark. "Today, in order to avoid a data deluge from collecting power quality information every 15-minutes, we only collect power quality measurements from the low voltage grid after we detect or have customer reports of problems in the network. However, with a separate data set dedicated for power quality history and troubleshooting data collected on a different cycle than the billing data, we'll be able to review the previously captured data immediately and decrease the time and cost that it used to take for us to conduct analysis in the field."

The new capabilities enabled by the COS software include and improved relevance and data reduction with 4x16 Channels of Load Profile Data: The new software enables Echelon MTR 1000 Series Single Phase Meters and MTR 3000 Series Poly Phase Meters to set up 4x16 channels of load profile data; each of which can be configured independently for interval, size and collection settings, says the company.

Another capability includes new software called the Grid Asset Protection. The new software allows the ability for meters to measure, store, and transmit peak power per phase. When used with Echelon's new MTR 3500 Series Current Transformer (CT) smart meters, utilities can proactively respond to transformer overload situations before they cause an outage. Additionally, the software helps identify load imbalances at the transformer allowing utilities to maximize the life of their grid assets as well as improve efficiency.

The COS also includes new features in System Software 5.1 and Element Manager 3 - software packages that operate at a utility's head-end – that can use Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates to map how meters and grid devices are connected to transformers. This location service capability reduces the time it takes to find and fix problems in the field, says Echelon.

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