Connexus Energy uses data to boost reliability

 Nearly all Great River Energy’s member-owner cooperatives have either installed advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) or have a plan to do so. For those who have completed their installations, the focus now turns to getting the most out of the data their new systems provide.

“AMI implementation was a significant financial investment,” said Alex Skelton, data scientist for Connexus Energy. “We are now working to get the most value we can from our AMI data.”

Connexus Energy completed its AMI installations in the summer of 2018 by deploying approximately 145,000 meters.

Skelton said the co-op is now using PowerBI — Microsoft’s business intelligence tool for reporting, dashboarding and visualizing data — to map a combination of data from its geographic information system and new AMI meters.

“Engineering is using this tool to get a visual representation of member-consumers experiencing voltage out of the acceptable range,” Skelton said.

Out-of-range voltage can cause problems such as equipment not working properly or dim lights.

“This dashboard differs from the engineering models we typically use as it uses actual measured AMI data and the user can easily look at any given day,” Skelton said. “Additionally, the engineering models do not take into account the secondary wires. The AMI data gives us more visibility into what’s actually happening at the member’s meter.”

Connexus Energy may have previously only known about voltage issues if a member discovered them and called the cooperative.

“With this tool we can proactively respond to voltage issues. This allows for a planned and optimized solution instead of reacting on short notice — often unscheduled,” Skelton said.

Connexus Energy is considering using AMI data in the future to identify overloaded or failed transformers and to handle certain loads on its system such as electric vehicles.