In the early 2000s, CPS Energy identified several goals for improving its system design, operations and customer service. An important conclusion was the need to replace core legacy systems in the distribution business with an integrated suite of operational systems. Using an integrated solution from ABB, for the operations management of its power distribution systems, CPS Energy has leveraged the integrated suite for immediate productivity and customer service improvements. Today, CPS Energy's integrated distribution operations platform yields benefits that include improved operational efficiencies for control room and field resources, shorter outage times and improved customer communication during outages, improved decision support and more efficient work management processes.
CPS Energy is the largest municipally owned natural gas and electric utility in the US, providing service to approximately 717,000 electricity customers and 325,000 natural gas customers in and around the city of San Antonio, Texas. The utility ranks among the nation's lowest-cost energy providers while ranking No. 1 in wind-energy capacity among municipally owned utilities.
As a result of a business case analysis focused on its electricity distribution organization, CPS Energy identified key goals to improve its distribution operations. It wanted to improve the efficiency with which the organization responded to customer interruptions and reduce average interruption duration. CPS Energy also wanted to improve its customer service by providing more specific and timely information to customers during outages and power interruptions. Finally, it wanted to increase the efficiency by which facilities were designed and constructed. This included allowing its planners and operators the abilities to test how proposed network additions work with existing infrastructure and view the deployment progress of a particular design (such as which network sections are energized and which sections have been built but are not yet energized).
These overarching goals provided a stepped framework for various improvement projects in which each enhancement provided the launch point for subsequent projects. As a result, CPS has implemented a series of milestone enhancements since the mid-2000s, resulting in today's solution: A fully integrated operations platform designed and deployed by ABB, which aligns with the utility's core commitment to continuous operational improvements in its distribution organization.
The distribution operations system now in place at CPS Energy answers the need for a high performing, multi-layered solution with a common working environment. Its integrated distribution operations platform is based on key components from ABB enterprise software solutions, including Network Manager™ SCADA, distribution management system (DMS) and outage management system (OMS), Service Suite mobile workforce management (MWFM) and FocalPoint business intelligence tools.
Multiple modules work in concert to maximize operational efficiency and performance that ultimately result in faster power outage response times and decreased average outage duration. The seamless integration between the various modules provides CPS with mission-critical operational efficiencies:
- Increased operator efficiency and reduced data error with a single system, eliminating the need to work through multiple systems with potentially different data
- Streamlined controls operations enabled by the integrated operator graphical user interface (GUI), allowing operators to control SCADA devices from either the OMS or the SCADA module
- Streamlined security analysis for substation and circuit operations with the ability to check for tags in one area affecting operations in the other
- Streamlined login with SCADA single sign-on also initializing OMS tabular displays and maps
- Simplified authority management through highly configurable areas of responsibility (AOR)
- Simplified data engineering via coordinated SCADA point and GIS data changes, supported by an integrated graphical data engineering environment
- Integrated view of system efficiency, availability and economy delivered by real-time business intelligence
The phased deployment of the current solution also included full integration to SAP's customer care system (CCS) module and ESRI's geographic information system (GIS). The integration between the distribution operations platform and CCS answered the initiative for CPS to improve its customer service by providing more timely and accurate outage information to customers during power interruptions. In addition, outage orders created by operators and work order status updates submitted by a field crew are seamlessly managed by MWFM to provide customer service representatives with accurate restoration updates they can communicate and verify through customer callbacks.
Furthermore, facilities and construction design efficiency was realized by integrating DMS and enterprise GIS. Planners and operators from the distribution organization can now test how proposed network additions work with existing infrastructure by providing visibility into the progress of a particular design. For example, planned components that have not yet been energized can now be included in the incremental update from the GIS, allowing operators to quickly activate the status of these new components in the DMS once energized by field crews. In this manner, planning and construction efficiency facilitates the broadest and most up-to-date view of the system.
Collectively, the ABB enterprise software platform has leveraged data from multiple operational technology (OT) / information technology (IT) sources across CPS' electricity distribution organization, facilitating rapid optimization in its distribution operations.
When a circuit outage occurs in CPS' 1,566-square-mile service area, the utility's Energy Management Center is now able to deliver more accurate outage information to affected customers and restore power in less time.
Since 2004, the ABB Enterprise Software product group has worked with CPS Energy to supply value through its integrated distribution operations solution. The benefits stretch across the utility's distribution organization:
- Improved operational efficiencies for control room operators and field resources, particularly during outage events
- Shorter outage times and improved communications from customer service representatives to customers during outages
- Enhanced awareness of distribution loading and voltage profiles, along with extended control capabilities enabled by a single user interface
- Improved decision support and collaboration among CPS personnel
- Additional process optimizations facilitated by the integrated modules enable further efficiencies through the field force in dispatch and customer service functions
- Increased efficiency in system design and work management processes
- A scalable platform for continued enhancements to distribution automation improvements
Maintaining Momentum: Advanced DMS Network Applications
CPS Energy also plans to leverage Network Manager DMS as it continues to enhance its automation and integration capabilities. The module provides CPS Energy with the capability to add advanced DMS network applications such as:
- Unbalanced load flow analysis
- Fault location
- Automatic restoration switching analysis (self-healing)
- Volt/VAR optimization
The advanced DMS network applications will provide their distribution operators with improved system-wide visibility, further reductions in average customer interruption duration, improved awareness of equipment capacity margins and enhanced control over voltage and VAR flow on the system. OMS and the advanced DMS network applications use a single, dynamic distribution network model, saving IT resources from maintaining and synchronizing two separate models.
Looking ahead, the utility is exploring the future role of an automated meter infrastructure (AMI) in distribution operations. Future collaboration between CPS and ABB seeks to understand the potential applications of integrating AMI and meter data management (MDM) systems with Network Manager DMS in addition to using the AMI communications infrastructure for distribution automation.