Transpower keeps costs under control with SAT
"Using GIS meant the software could be developed cheaply by electricity industry standards and very quickly. It took less than a year from gestation to delivery. We started in November 2011 and by January or February the following year we decided we were happy with the proposed system and commenced the build."
Dann Twigg, Systems Operations Manager, Transpower
The Business Challenge
Moving electricity using the national grid requires monitoring of both physical and market constraints so that the greatest cost efficiencies are achieved. Operators need visibility of the grid to run supply schedules. A previous system used to assess operations was outdated and unsupported, and therefore unreliable.
Using ArcGIS technology, Eagle Technology helped to build a Situation Awareness Tool, or SAT, that allow operators to see graphs, heat-maps and geographic displays to create generation dispatch schedules, moving electricity seamlessly and a the lowest possible cost.
Transpower’s business is moving electricity from where it is generated to where it is needed: cities, towns and large industrial users like steel mills and aluminium smelters. The state-owned company uses its nationwide high voltage electricity grid.
As systems operations manager Dan Twigg explains, a number of constraints hold back the flow of electricity. He says while some are physical, devices like transformers and so on, there are also constraints caused by the electricity market.
Transpower aims to move electricity seamlessly and at the lowest possible cost of supply. Twigg says if physical constraints look likely to cause a price rise Transpower can often do something about it. Things happen very fast, so getting a warning before a grid problem occurs can help keep prices under control, which is why the Situation Awareness Tool or SAT was developed with help from Eagle Technology.
Twigg says SAT started with a concept developed internally at Transpower and Energy Management Services (EMS) in 2011. A formal project began with Eagle Technology in January 2012 and the project was implemented in June of that year.
SAT gives operators an early look at potential grid constraints. Twigg says: "SAT means we can run a series of rolling schedules to show graphically, heat map line diagrams and geographically what is happening – or will happen – on the grid".
Transpower starts with a generation dispatch schedule looking a day and a half ahead and revises it continually as it gets closer to real time. A day and a half might seem like a long lead-time, but some generators need plenty of notice before they can deliver power. There are also load forecasts and security of supply requirements to consider.
SAT replaces an earlier system that became unsupported and was therefore unsafe to rely on. Twigg says it gives planners an easy way to absorb a lot of information quickly.
He says, "Operators sit in front of screens with large amounts of data. They can see graphs, heat-maps, geographic displays or look at all three at once. More importantly, they can see immediately when things change. Most of the time they rely on alarms to warn of problems before they arise."
Although SAT is built on a GIS platform, Twigg says the system’s geographic ability is not so important in day-to-day use, but was vital to building the system. He says: "Using GIS meant the software could be developed cheaply by electricity industry standards and very quickly. It took less than a year from gestation to delivery. We started in November 2011 and by January or February the following year we decided we were happy with the proposed system and commenced the build".
Twigg says not only did the project come in ahead of schedule, but well under the expected price. He says: "We had a small budget but the project came in twenty percent under and also ahead of time." He describes the GIS connection as a happy marriage, "We were already using the technology in Transpower and it is suitable for our needs."
Rolling electricity schedules
Agility to change according to environment, saving costs
Relatively cheap by electricity standards
Less than a year to implement
Rolling electricity schedules
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