The convergence of energy delivery, storage, generation and the Internet has become a reality for the distribution sector, thanks to Collus PowerStream and Essex Powerlines working together to implement Digital Grid 2.0. This project, which resulted in a 2016 EDA Innovation Excellence Award for both companies, is revolutionizing their respective operations and proving innovation in the sector leads to efficiency.

SmartMap, which operates under Digital Grid 2.0 infrastructure, provides real-time information to staff and crews at both companies. “[SmartMap] allows us to compile digital information about what is happening in our grid and our assets… it allows us to make informed decisions in near real time,” explains Jody Wilson, a Technician at Collus PowerStream. Joe Barile, General Manager at Essex Powerlines, adds: “The Digital Grid is really about bringing different pieces of information together in-order to make efficient decisions based on that data.”

Managing the distribution network is becoming increasingly complex, as more renewables, load control devices and storage capacity are connected to the grid. Digital Grid 2.0 replicates distribution networks in real time to analyze load flow on the fly, which facilitates more informed decision-making and allows for power system flexibility.

Digital Grid 2.0 is able to incorporate a growing set of new information sources. By enabling adaptive infrastructure, multiple streams of data can be connected and easily synchronized, resulting in increased operational efficiencies, additional grid technology advancement and further opportunities to innovate.

Implementing Digital Grid 2.0 has benefited everyone involved, from the C-suite to front-line staff and customers through:

  • Outage reduction — utility employees are now able to monitor transformer loading and system voltages to identify issues, which in turn allows for more proactive remediation and fewer outages.
  • Optimization of demand/load — Digital Grid 2.0 uses a model and load details to run analyses that help optimize the configuration of the system to reduce technical losses, improve voltages and improve system balance.
  • Integration of distributed energy resources — the Digital Grid 2.0 platform offers the ability to consider and evaluate different scenarios and identify safe connection criteria, optimal placement and configuration of distributed energy resources.
  • Optimization of assets and workforce — the utilities now have the ability to clearly identify the issues on their system, which allows them to zero in immediately on areas of the network that need attention.

“The collaborative efforts and success of Essex Powerlines and Collus PowerStream on innovation demonstrates we are ready to adapt through forward-thinking initiatives,” says Ray Tracey, President and CEO of Essex Power Corp.

The convergence of energy delivery, the Internet, storage, generation and new emerging technologies has become a reality for the distribution sector. The collaboration between Essex and Collus PowerStream demonstrates that innovation can dramatically enhance efficiency, resulting in better service and few disruptions for customers. Ontario’s LDCs are not only adapting, they are seeking ways to get ahead of the curve.