Electric systems throughout the world are facing many challenges. With much of today’s transmission and distribution infrastructure installed in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, many grid components have reached the limits of useful life and will need to be upgraded to allow for the bidirectional flow of energy between generation sources and consumption. Pressure on prices from increasing commodity costs, consumption growth and a decline in working inventories is expected to continue. Deployment of capital to meet load growth and reliability needs may become increasingly difficult. Government mandates, proposed carbon caps, and regulations that limit existing and new generation sources are augmenting environmental concerns. At the same time, a number of other factors are occurring that call for new electric utility operational characteristics. Some of the new factors facing electric utilities include increased deployment of renewable generation, the high capital cost of managing peak demands, and large investments in grid infrastructure for reliability and smart grid initiatives.

This confluence of factors has triggered a tremendous level of interest in new approaches within the electric utility industry. While traditional transmission and distribution networks allow for the delivery of electricity to end users over distance, integrated resource tools that incorporate new approaches for demand management and distributed resources allow for the management of the same electricity over shifting time periods. Unlike the legacy grid infrastructure approach, this approach allows for the generation and consumption of energy to occur at different times, thus allowing great flexibility in grid operation – flexibility that can generate value by grid operators. Overall resource planning approaches can help balance variable generation and, properly deployed and integrated, can help increase electric grid reliability and asset utilization.

Services provided by The Shpigler Group include:

  • Developing plans for AMI and smart grid
  • Implementing conservation voltage programs
  • Designing and implementing distribution automation efforts
  • Designing programs involving distributed energy resources, including distributed generation, energy storage, and variable demand
  • Evaluating energy storage requirements and capabilities
  • Developing dynamic modeling tools to maximize the use of distributed resources, including program design and dispatch schedules
  • Developing go-to-market strategies for vendors marketing to the electric utility sector
  • Developing AMI optimization programs to enable utilities to realize the full value from their AMI systems
  • Conducting benchmarking studies to identify areas of potential enhancement of operational efficiency

Examples of projects completed by The Shpigler Group include:

  • Assessing smart grid program under development by investor owned utility. Profiled industry developments in distribution automation, advanced metering, and demand response. Made comparison between utility’s activities and industry norms. Developed detailed financial model to evaluate cost effective areas for system implementation. Highlighted key gap areas and opportunities for additional value creation.
  • Developing operational support for AMI and voltage management program for municipal utility. Engaged in efforts to support requirements phase, including developing system level architecture, developing program key performance indicators, identifying use cases, preparing system requirements, and developing an operational impacts study.  Conducted series of workshops to ensure success for upcoming procurement phase.
  • Conducting assessment of competing SCADA systems for municipal utility. Evaluated cost proposals of competing SCADA systems and calculated payback of each.  Considered differences in resource requirements and system efficiency to develop plan that led to reduction in payback from 3.0 years to 1.8 years.
  • Developing business case in support of smart grid and distributed energy resources program for municipal utility. Constructed financial modeling tool to analyze the economic and operational impacts of advanced metering, distribution automation, cyber security, thermal energy storage, electric vehicles, system control, and retail programs.  Used analysis to drive the development of application for matching funds in Smart Grid Investment Grant program that was ultimately selected for funding.
  • Transitioning strategic analysis of smart grid program selected for funding into a dynamic operational initiative. Supported grant reporting requirements and internal evaluations of program progress.  Developed complete operational model that allowed for precise program tracking with detailed metrics associated.  Worked with internal subject matter experts to establish baseline metrics and used them to identify appropriate tracking mechanisms for internal and external reporting requirements.
  • Conducting research on optimal metering solution for rural electric cooperative. Conducted evaluation of the suitability of various commercial meters and support for ToU rates.  Identified alternative vendors under consideration in addition to current meter vendor and conducted an assessment of the optimal metering strategy moving forward.  Provided an evaluation of the system approach that would be needed to make the entire metering platform work seamlessly.
  • Conducting study on utility innovation investing trends. Conducted primary and secondary research to evaluate emerging developments in innovation sponsorship and investments within the utility industry.  Evaluated historical data and forecasted future developments.
  • Conducting study on Enterprise Asset Management and Enterprise Resource Planning systems. Helped evaluate issues related to use cases, vendor selection, implementation planning, and standards compliance.
  • Conducting study on data center practices among electric utilities. Gathered information on practices of U.S. utilities related to operation of data centers for IT systems, OT systems, and the relationship between the two.  Identified industry trends and reported on best practices.
  • Developing complete distribution automation business plan. Designed business model to support initiative that included AMI and intelligent grid applications for three million electric and gas meters.  Evaluated technology platforms and conducted financial modeling test of competing technical approaches and network designs.
  • Conducting analysis in support of advanced metering filing with state public utility commission on behalf of investor-owned utility. Developed detailed financial model to generate economic profile of system and resultant ratepayer impact.  Conducted analysis to calculate proposed surcharge amount for regulated system recovery.
  • Developing business plan evaluating impact of increased renewables and other distributed resources for Mexican regulatory body. Developed dynamic financial model to calculate the optimal resource mix of blend of solar and wind, coupled with energy storage and demand response.  Delivered full financial forecast of proposed system and optimal system design.
  • Preparing benchmarking study on behalf of statewide association of municipal utilities. Conducted operational analysis of drivers of performance and the resultant cost implications, including staffing, system maintenance, vehicle expense, and engineering.  Performed assessment of non-financial metrics, including customer satisfaction, safety practices, cyber security, and outages.  Analyzed relative levels of efficiency and performance and provided detailed recommendations for each utility to close identified gaps.
  • Writing advocacy report on benefits of advanced metering for electric utility association. Performed research and analysis to identify opportunities for value creation through implementation of AMI and distribution automation programs.  Analyzed potential impact of tax policy to create financial incentives for utilities to deploy advanced metering and smart grid systems.
  • Developing advocacy paper on the potential of distribution automation programs for electric utility community. Profiled the stakeholder benefits associated with implementation of a “smart grid” system and evaluated public policy impacts.  Outlined key advantages stemming from energy efficiency, system reliability, service quality, and economic efficiency as a way to lobby for favorable tax policy.
  • Writing an industry white paper that analyzes the cost-effectiveness of a “smart grid” implementation by an investor-owned electric utility. Conducted financial analysis to provide a basis for deciding whether, and how, to phase the deployment of components and functions.  Delineated alternative transition paths to the implementation of a holistic smart grid system, including discrete sequential activities that comprise the transition, and provide methods for cost justifying the implementation of any particular phase.
  • Developing market go-to-market strategy for developer of distributed energy storage system. Profiled the leading energy storage and EV battery systems and identified potential market opportunities.  Developed value proposition model to quantify the value proposition associated with energy storage approach.  Modeled peak reduction impact to develop plan to integrate renewable energy sources.
  • Developing industry report focused on characterization and analysis of distributed generation and energy storage systems in a smart grid. Developed research and analysis to assess the potential value of distributed generation and energy storage to the smart grid, with a look at potential configurations and requirements which offer the most promise and deliver the most value to an electric distribution utility.  Quantified the role, technical requirements, and applications and operational value for DG and ES assets in a smart grid.
  • Developing grid modernization plan for investor owned utility. Conducted assessment of use cases associated with automating utility programs based on operating characteristics.  Developed migration strategy to identify the optimal path to incorporate elements of communication network, infrastructure devices, automation programs, optimization systems, and overall grid modernization.  Aligned plans with state PUC requirements by develop short-term and long-term operating targets.
  • Developing detailed analysis of energy storage program for association of municipal utilities. Designed financial model to evaluate the economic, operational, and environmental impact of regional deployment of thermal energy storage.  Evaluated system design considerations and identified the optimal deployment approach that delivered maximum value for the communities involved.
  • Developed detailed business case study for Turkish transmission operator. Evaluated the entire transmission network with particular focus on the portion that has not been connected to the SCADA system.  Developed detailed financial model and identified two separate options for financing the projects under consideration.  Developed project risk factors and develop a risk avoidance/reduction plan for each factor.  Provided project budget and identified potential funding sources, including the World Bank, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and European Union Funds.
  • Developing detailed modeling approach to evaluate the combined impacts of a variety of distributed energy resources – energy storage, demand response, distributed generation – to profile the impact of a holistic energy demand management portfolio that could be used to address a number of system needs. Developed tool that can effectively measure the value proposition for any number of utility programs of interest.  Identified specific values associated with defined programs within generation, transmission, and distribution networks.  Identified optimal mix of resources to best suit the utility’s needs.