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In the smart grid-enabled distribution utility of the future, power will flow in two directions and energy supplies will come from new technologies and various-sized suppliers connected anywhere on the network.
Customers will need to adjust their demand to respond to supply constraints, and aging infrastructure will be pushed to higher loading levels and lower margins. For distribution management, this means the enhancement of capabilities far beyond just handling planned and unplanned outages. It means operating the system more actively and with the use of smart devices, sensors and advanced analysis applications.
This evolution includes the expansion of automation to all distribution substations and further onto the feeders with automated reclosers, switches, regulators, capacitors and other smart devices and sensors. This point of view describes the key concepts of the advanced distribution management system (DMS) and provides utilities with a road map for its implementation and future development.
A DMS is the primary system used by distribution control center operators to operate the distribution network reliably, efficiently and securely.
At the heart of the DMS is the detailed and accurate distribution network model that operators can use to make decisions and operate the system. However, the DMS is highly dependent on data from a geographic information system (GIS), customer information system (CIS) and other data sources to build and maintain this model of the network.
The core components of distribution management are SCADA, operating model, user interface, outage management and advanced DMS applications. While the ideal architecture consists of one solution that enables all components, various utilities and vendors are architecting distribution management solutions differently based on their current investments and business drivers.
Distribution management touches many business processes, such as customer service, power quality, service connects and disconnects, construction and maintenance
As smart grid evolves, utility operations will need innovative applications to support new operating models. For example, as utility customers install renewable generation (such as solar and wind on their homes), the premise of one-way power flow in the distribution network changes.
Control centers must be able to model and manage customer generation, as well as other distributed generation connected to the distribution network to safely and securely operate the system. New types of generation and energy storage alongside demand response programs can be used to respond to contingencies such as peak loading or substation loss.
Many utilities are making major investments in the implementation of advanced DMS as the foundation for the new way they will operate their distribution system going forward. This shows that the industry has now concluded on the necessity and the numerous business benefits of implementing DMS.
Although the industry vision for the distribution management of the future is converging, there is no single solution as the next step for all utilities. The distribution management roadmap must be developed for each utility based on its current conditions and its business realities, goals and drivers.
May 23, 2011
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