IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2017 - 78

and 4 million smart meters (among other improve-
ments), has been able to avoid over 4.8 million cus-
tomer interruptions since 2012. An additional benefit
of this modernized infrastructure will be to facilitate
the transition toward a new paradigm that includes
high penetration of DERs.
✔ CenterPoint Energy has deployed 2.3 million smart
meters along with communications and data analyt-
ics infrastructure, remotely controlled automation
devices on distribution feeders, and an advanced
distribution management system. CenterPoint Ener-
gy is currently working on using this infrastructure
for the implementation of advanced predictive and
prescriptive data analytics applications. Benefits de-
rived from these initiatives include executing more
than 11 million electronic service orders (e.g., turn
on/off service), resulting in vehicle fuel savings of
more than 1 million gallons, reducing CO2 emissions
by more than 9,300 metric tons, restoring power to
nearly 1.2 million customers without placing a phone
call, avoiding more than 102 million customer out-
age minutes, and improving power reliability by 28%
in 2014 alone.
There are numerous examples of successful implemen-
tations of grid modernization initiatives and technologies
involving distribution automation (DA) schemes based on
smart reclosers and switches, which are driven not by DER
proliferation per se but rather by the need to improve ser-
vice reliability, resiliency, and operational efficiency. Table 1
summarizes the reliability benefits [measured via the System
Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI), System Aver-
age Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI), and Momentary
Average Interruption Frequency Index (MAIFI)] achieved by
42 projects implemented via the DOE's Smart Grid Invest-
ment Grant, which included the deployment of automated
feeder switching on 1,250 distribution feeders. Here nega-
tive values represent reductions in reliability indices attained
by the projects (with respect to the base case), i.e., reliability
improvements. The results show the tremendous potential and
benefits of DA to improve reliability performance.

Existing and Developing Technologies:
Facing a Crossroads
As the previous examples show, many of the underlying tech-
nologies needed to accomplish grid modernization objectives
table 1. A summary of changes in distribution
reliability (source: U.S. DOE).

78

Reliability
Indices

Range of Improvement:
% Change

Range of
Baselines

SAIFI

−13% to −40%

0.8-1.07

SAIDI

−2% to −43%

67-107

MAIFI

−28%

9.0

ieee power & energy magazine

already exist and are either commercially available today or
nearly so. Many others are caught in the conundrum that low
adoption would delay cost reduction and higher penetration,
whereas higher adoption would lead to cost reduction and
higher penetration. Many technologies that enable integra-
tion-especially in analytics, planning tools and operations,
and communications and control architecture-have been
slower to develop. And, in many cases, business models to
facilitate economic development of new technologies and the
modernized grid can be improved with regulatory action.
The industry is at a crossroads in terms of making busi-
ness and technical decisions that will allow it to optimally and
cost-effectively manage electric power delivery. As business
models and technology change, traditional grids and distrib-
uted grids/microgrids should be purposefully integrated as
hybrid grids to fulfill all consumer needs (e.g., resilience and
cost-efficiency), with transmission as an enabler to support
the integration of renewable resources. Policy should support
grid modernization and value creation with performance-
based rewards and should not unduly favor either incumbent
utilities or nonutility developers and operators.
Technology development and energy policy that encour-
ages competition and advances renewables have led to rapid
penetration of DG (particularly PVs) and DR, especially
at industrial and commercial facilities. Other technologies
of interest, such as microgrids, are driven by energy resil-
iency needs, while energy storage, EVs, and smart buildings
all promise more end user flexibility and control. In many
regions, the adoption of new DG technologies has progressed
more quickly than regulatory policy and rule making, whole-
sale market adaptation, and, especially, the grid moderniza-
tion necessary to accommodate a new world of independent
choice for consumers in terms of energy technology imple-
mentation and operation.

Smart Technologies for the Changing
Nature of the Electric Power System
New technologies promise solutions to many of the chal-
lenges identified in the previous section. However, legacy
planning and operations analytics and systems need to be
more "DER friendly" and "DER ready," including the fol-
lowing considerations.
✔ Distribution monitoring, protection, automation, and
control. Increasingly, advanced automation schemes
such as FLISR are already being deployed in distri-
bution systems to improve reliability. Such schemes,
essential for cost-effective reliability improvement,
are frequently monitored and controlled in real time
by supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA)
and can provide added support for enabling DERs by
incorporating the visibility and flexibility necessary
for operations. DA systems should facilitate DER in-
tegration and address safety, reliability, and aging in-
frastructure issues, resulting in more efficient means to
modernize the electric system.
may/june 2017



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