Electricity companies have been struggling with increasingly severe issues for decades. A larger population, greater frequency of natural disasters that cause outages, and aging grid infrastructure have all created challenges.
Technology is only now catching up, providing specialized applications to solve the problems utility companies have been dealing with for years. Of those solutions, the most promising are options that take advantage of the IoT and machine learning. Both technologies allow utility companies to gather and process more data to make better decisions, improving their operations and the quality of service they provide.
4 Ways Electricity Companies are Using IoT and Machine Learning
The IoT is helping electricity providers connect and monitor their assets, while machine learning helps process the increasingly large quantities of data that come in without human intervention. Here are four ways the IoT and machine analytics are improving electricity.
1. Better Advanced Metering Infrastructure Insights
Utility companies with advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) are using the IoT and machine learning to gain more insights from their assets. The technology helps smart meters on the grid communicate better with one another and central utility operations.
Tools then use that information to provide analytics, alerts, and data visualization for staff. Since information is packaged in the most useful way, electricity providers can easily gain insights that help them deploy new and replacement meters, coordinate crew, and improve billing accuracy. That often translates to higher quality service, fewer outages, and more efficient operations that can increase profitability and customer satisfaction.
2. Smart Meter Intelligence
Similar to AMI insights, smart meter intelligence leverages connected devices and machine learning to gather and analyze data from electric meters. Smart meter intelligence calculates, analyzes, and visualizes the health and operations of smart meter networks.
Intelligence results are used to shorten customer service calls, reduce truck rolls for metering issues, and improve data and capital spending on meters.
3. Demand-Response Management
As populations boom, utility companies are under more pressure to provide more power to more people. That stresses infrastructure, causing blackouts and brownouts.
To deal with the problem, many electric companies are using IoT technology to connect their assets to larger analytics systems. The connections help companies gather data on asset performance and demand. Machine learning then analyzes grid stress, imbalance, demand response capacity, and energy storage from grid-connected batteries.
The result is a more balanced, smarter grid that can adjust power in response to demand, improving operations and limited blackouts and brownouts.
4. Outage Analytics
No matter how advanced your technology, you can’t prevent all outages. You can, however, predict and prevent some of them, while responding to others more quickly.
Outage intelligence uses machine learning to review data and provide real-time analytics into outages. Warning signs are flagged so you can predict when outages will occur and take steps to prevent them. When you can’t stop an outage from occurring, the system will quickly detect the problem, assessing the situation and providing utilities with the information they need to restore power.
When used consistently, outage analytics can decrease the frequency and severity of outages, as well as limiting the duration when outages do occur.
Electricity is Using Technology to Improve Service and Incorporate Sustainable Energy
New electricity technology doesn’t just help prevent outages and improve service – it also incorporates new energy sources. Wind and solar power, for instance, can be stored in grid-connected batteries that are managed by demand response tools, while analytics from all sources can help utilities determine when to supplement traditional power with renewable sources.
As electricity providers integrate new technology into their existing infrastructure, they’ll be better equipped to handle increasing demand and make their operations more efficient and sustainable.