Top Energy and Northpower are introducing a common distribution management system that will provide more meaningful real-time information from the field, enabling a more efficient and cost-effective restoration response.
The Northland electricity lines companies are replacing their traditional Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, which facilitate relatively simple control and real-time data collection on the network, with GE’s Advanced Distribution Management Solutions (ADMS).
The ADMS platform provides operators with better information to support decision making on the network, especially during storm response and major incidents. It also introduces efficiencies by automating routine tasks and providing real-time information about the network.
Coupling these features with a common network switching and access management standard helps improve response capability between Northpower and Top Energy during any significant district or regional disasters.
In partnership with GE’s Grid Solutions, Top Energy kick started its programme in 2018 and expects to have the SCADA, Network Management System (NMS) and Outage Response modules operational by Q3 2019, followed by the Distribution Optimization applications – Fault Location, Isolation and Service Restoration (FLISR), Distributed Power Flow (DPF), Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and Low Voltage Management (LVM) – by early 2020.
Northpower’s program will commence mid-2019 and will have SCADA and NMS operational by late-2020, followed by Outage Response and Distribution Optimization applications over the next 18 months.
Top Energy and Northpower see ADMS as supporting their networks and customers as distributed generation, such as solar power and new types of energy resources, continues to grow.
Northpower’s Network General Manager Josie Boyd says GE’s ADMS platform will help manage the more dynamic energy flows from distributed generation and is a strategically important project for Northpower.
“ADMS will provide a platform for enhanced outage management and improved safety outcomes. Importantly, it will provide a platform on which we can build visibility of our low voltage (400 volt) lines to support the distributed energy resources that connect to our network.”
Top Energy CIO Gordon Ramsay says implementing common systems across distribution utilities will drive down costs, improve quality of supply, and will enhance the customer experience across the Northland region.
“The provision of real-time flags showing the predicted location of critical faults as they occur on the network will improve decision making when diagnosing faults, leading to quicker restoration times,” he says.
Mr. Ramsay also highlights the operational health and safety improvements that will arise from the roll-out.
“Embedding network operating and access management business rules into the system that work with the control room operator will help ensure safe operation of the network and the health and safety of the field staff. That’s a critical outcome.”
The companies are also working on a range of other shared initiatives including a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform (SalesForce), network pricing model, standardised customer facing processes as well as improved service delivery efficiencies. These shared projects are focused on delivering efficiencies, reducing costs and providing an enhanced customer experience for Northland consumers.
As part of GE’s Digital Energy portfolio, GE’s ADMS is engineered with adaptive algorithms and predictive analytics to enable real-time monitoring, facilitate advanced controls for distribution operators and help reduce outage impacts.
Stephen Ellis, Account Director at GE says GE’s ADMS enables Top Energy and Northpower to better predict network issues, identify faults on their electricity networks as they happen and propose a restoration plan before crews arrive on site, rather than risking unnecessary interruptions, which can impact their ability to focus on their job.
“The new system will mean improved safety for their field crews and more efficient outage restoration efforts. Having a clear view of the full network helps utilities drive situational awareness, manage planned and unplanned work, mobilise resources, and efficiently restore the network after an outage,” says Mr. Ellis.
GE is working closely with its customers in New Zealand and the broader Asia-Pacific region to support the sharing of configuration, knowledge and experience on the ADMS solution. GE’s New Zealand customers in particular have embraced the concept. This sharing of knowledge enables the lines companies to share some costs of supporting the application, gives a faster return in realising financial value, and in the longer term allows operators to potentially assist each other in times of crisis with a similar look and feel of operational technology in the control room.