Sunday, October 21, 2007

Building The Smart Grid

We at Austin Energy pride ourselves for being one of the most progressive utilities in the world. We are the number one seller of green energy by any electric utility in the US six years in a row, while also managing nuclear, coal, and liquid natural gas power sources. We have already saved the equivalent of a 660 mwh power plant with conservation and DR programs since 1985 and we have a new goal to save another 700 mwh by 2020. We are leaders in distributed generation and renewable energy (7% of our mix already today and target for 30% by 2020). And we are leaders in the use of information technology solutions (We already manage 195,000 devices real-time for metering, distribution automation, and demand response, and plan to expand to 500,000 devices by early 2009. We manage $1 billion in hedging transactions per year. 35% of our revenues are received online today from zero in 2003. And we deployed a service oriented architecture in 2004 to integrate and manage all our systems).

The steps to build our Smart Grid have been driven by the need to simplify our infrastructure, improve decision making, adapt to faster changing business needs, improve disaster recovery and business continuity planning, improve regulatory compliance, increase quality standards, increase customer satisfaction and reduce operational costs.

Our Smart Grid will be powered by our Software Oriented Architecture that follows the principles of delivering presentation, process, and information as services to all stakeholders. This new architecture gives us the ability to integrate, manage and control central power plants, distributed energy plants, the wholesale energy system, the transmission and distribution grid, the meters, smart appliances at customer sites, plug-in-hybrids while connected to the grid, and the delivery of timely information via portals to all customer types. Our Smart Grid will be the combination of an information grid that mirrors our electric grid. In other words, it will be the seamless blending of power, telecommunications, infrastructure and software to deliver cleaner, affordable, reliable energy and excellent customer service.

Since 2003, we have created/installed/matured a new Technology Governance Framework, a new Project Management Office, an Enterprise Architecture : SOA, a NERC Compliant Security Architecture, a Business Process Innovation Program, a Portfolio Management Ranking Process, a Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Program, hundreds of miles of new fiber, a new VOIP network, new Server and Storage technology (multi-core CPUs, virtualization, de-duplication, etc), 3 new wireless networks, an application replacement and integration program, a new Software Development Lifecycle framework (based on RUP), 2 new data centers, a new Technology Control Center, a new employee rewards and recognition program (CIO Awards), new quality initiatives (ITIL, ISO, CMMI, Digital Documentation), new websites and portals, new smart phones, 130,000 wireless meters, 65,000 wireless thermostats, new wireless PCs for mobile crews and their processes, new PCs, wireless sensors, and a BPL pilot deployment to better understand the technology.
The next years will see the maturity of the technology building blocks enable new functionality, new business processes, and new services to all customer types. We are Austin Energy and we are the Utility of the Future.

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