VEC recognizes that the safe and reliable operation of the grid is important both to deliver energy to our members and to provide a reliable interconnection for distributed generation projects. VEC has been an innovator when it comes to the implementation of smart grid technology. VEC’s Control Center is staffed around-the-clock, seven days a week by qualified System Operators. VEC’s control center and its crews use many tools to decrease outages and make sure VEC is providing safe and reliable power.
As of August 2015, VEC has installed SCADA on all 36 substations, all but one distribution tie points, critical distribution devices, and all generator interconnections with a capacity of 150 kW or greater. The VEC SCADA system has proven to be instrumental in creating operational efficiencies, reducing outage duration, and promoting proactive distribution system maintenance. The systems are redundant and offer system operators a system-wide perspective via map board displays while also providing granular detail on station or area specific displays.VEC has focused on automating its distribution system and integrating SCADA functionality into its existing Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI), Outage Management System (OMS), and Geographic Information System (GIS). Integration with these systems will improve outage performance during large scale outages and better overall situational awareness. VEC recently installed a data warehouse software platform and has created remote monitoring tools for use by substation technicians and management during system events. System diagnostic and display pages can be viewed on a remote PC or iPad by remote users.
Outage Management System (OMS)
VEC has used an outage management system supplied by the National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) since February 2008. The system relies on four inputs: (1) AMI meter information, (2) Integrated Voice Response (IVR) automated phone system data, (3) member service inputs from the VEC Member Service Department and (4) inputs from the CRC Call Center. The system is initiated by one non-AMI input (e.g., a call from a member) which then
begins to “ping” AMI meters upstream until power is detected. The system then identifies the protective device which has isolated the outage. The process for identifying any outage normally takes between 30 seconds and 2-3 minutes depending on the size of the outage. The system is very reliable and efficient for outage detection.
AMI Metering Systems
VEC has been operating its present AMI system since 2005. It relies on Powerline Carrier (PLC) communication to provide two way communications between the substations and meters. Data backhaul from the substation to the Johnson Headquarters is provided using mostly fiber optic cable. The system is extremely reliable and on average provides 99.7% read performance. VEC utilizes this system for all residential and small commercial and industrial consumers. The meter data is housed by a Meter Data Management (MDM) system and used for a variety of applications including iVUE (billing), transformer loading analysis, and VEC’s consumer interface application, SmartHub. The data was also recently used for DOE Consumer Behavior Study which focused on implementing Variable Peak Pricing. VEC runs monthly voltage reports on all AMI meters on its system to verify that voltage (+/- 5% of nominal) is being provided to its members.
The Vermont Weather Analytics Center (VTWAC) is a powerful tool that enables utilities to better protect communities, meet customer needs, and garner renewable energy’s full value. VTWAC delivers advance weather forecasts up to three days ahead, precise to 1 km², linked to customer demand data and to solar and wind generation models. Partners in this work included every local Vermont utility, state agencies, renewable energy developers, Vermont academic institutions and the formidable intellectual resources of IBM Research. The results are the most precise and accurate wind and solar generation forecasts in the world.
Vermont Weather Analytics
As the penetration of renewables increases there is a need for accurate monitoring of generation output, load forecasts and generations forecasts. VEC has taken an active role in the Vermont Weather Analytics Center. The joint effort between Vermont Distribution Utilities, VELCO, and IBM is to increase grid reliability, lower weather -related operational costs and optimize use of renewable generation resources.
The Center uses four models:
- Deep Thunder which will produce accurate weather forecasts up to 48 hours in advance down to 2 sqkm,
- Demand Forecast Model which will increase accuracy of state load forecasts,
- Renewable Forecast Model which will produce generation forecasts for solar and wind farms, and
- Renewable Integration Stochastic Engine which will integrate the results of the aforementioned models to optimize the value of Vermont's generation, demand response, and transmission assets.