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DA & AMI Convergence: Enabling energy savings through voltage conservation

May 01, 2012


The convergence of distribution automation (DA) and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is providing unprecedented opportunities for power grid modernization, from transformer and feeder monitoring, outage management and cost effective fault isolation to electric vehicle integration. Bringing immediate benefits from reduced energy use on power distribution systems, voltage conservation allows for power quality to be maintained throughout the distribution system.

With power quality maintained, the voltage stays in the recommended range and household appliances operate as designed. Requiring no change to behaviour, voltage conservation allows for consumers to use less energy and benefit from lower household electricity bills. The energy reduction translates into less power generation requirements and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Historically impractical due to the utility’s inability to cost effectively
monitor voltage levels continuously at the residential meter, voltage conservation is now possible for utilities with converging DA and AMI technology from Elster – a capability not available from many competing systems.

DA is widely defined as a set of technologies that enable an electric utility to remotely monitor, coordinate and operate distribution components in a real time mode from remote locations. Today, the missing link in DA is effective and pervasive communications systems. Without such systems, “remote” capabilities are nonexistent. Because of this lack of installed communication infrastructure, many utilities today have little or poor visibility outside of the distribution substation down to the customer. Ultimately, no single technology or system meets the combined demands of DA and AMI; technologies and systems must be interoperable and complementary. Smart grid/AMI systems, such as Elster’s EnergyAxis® system, provide the necessary multi-technology communications infrastructure, as well as a commercialized voltage conservation application through the convergence of DA and AMI.

Overall, voltage conservation reduces the amount of power needed to service a given customer base. This reduction in voltage has no power quality or service impact on end customers, as the voltage at the meter remains within acceptable ranges. Consumers will use less energy with no additional effort on their part – reducing household costs and improving customer satisfaction. The goal of voltage conservation is to reduce energy losses and consumption by operating at the lower end of these voltage ranges.