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Util-Assist is a leader in smart grid portfolio services.

Util-Assist is a leader in smart grid portfolio services.  Our consultants work with the utility sector to develop cost-effective, achievable strategies on AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) integration, CIS (Customer Information System) implementation, conservation initiatives, and other smart grid applications.

 

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In this rapidly-evolving industry, utilities are faced with real challenges.

In this rapidly-evolving industry, utilities are faced with real challenges. Our mission is to provide simple solutions to complex problems: we break down complicated information into manageable pieces to provide our clients with straightforward results and clear direction.

 

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Our experience is unparalleled.

Util-Assist’s expertise is unparalleled: we have supported over 50 utilities worldwide through the complete life-cycle of AMI integration.  Unlike some of our competitors, our experience is real-life and extends across all phases, from strategic planning and procurement through to implementation and corporate change management

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With knowledge and expertise at the forefront of the AMI industry, Util-Assist is the trusted consultant of choice.

Featured Case Studies

01

North Little Rock Electric Department

AMI Procurement and Smart Metering Implementation Project

Business Challenge

North Little Rock Electric Department (NLR) provides electricity to over 60,000 people in the City of North Little Rock, Arkansas and surrounding area.   To realize operational efficiencies, the company planned to introduce smart meters, and had been working with a consultant to develop and release an RFP for an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system.  Through this process, the utility identified that in order to guarantee an AMI solution that best fit NLR’s requirements, NLR would need to secure a consulting company that demonstrated a comprehensive knowledge of smart grid.  

Upon meeting with Util-Assist consultants, NLR was immediately impressed with their ability to add value through a solid understanding of smart grid requirements as well as their extensive AMI procurement experience.  Util-Assist was brought on board to lead the AMI project through the next stages of procurement, including providing expert advice in the selection of a vendor.

Util-Assist’s Role

Although Util-Assist’s initial role was to assist in AMI procurement, including vendor selection and contract negotiation, Util-Assist guided NLR through the entire smart metering transition.  To ensure a smooth process, subject matter experts conducted a thorough review of NLR business process, and held workshops to develop new smart metering processes and provide employee training.  

In-depth knowledge also enabled Util-Assist to guide the selection of a meter data management (MDM) system to provide meter data storage and perform data analysis.  Util-Assist helped to configure both the AMI and MDM systems and is assisting in the management of all vendors (AMI, MDM, installation contractor) through the mass rollout of the smart metering project.

Project Results

The NLR smart metering goals are currently being realized, and according to Mike Russ, General Manager of NLR, much of this success can be attributed to Util-Assist: “I don’t see how any utility could manage an advanced meter rollout without a partner like Util-Assist to provide guidance and expertise.  Util-Assist’s help proved invaluable as we transformed our system to smart grid operations.” 

Util-Assist provided added value by outlining specific system and integration requirements that would prove key to the project.  The consultants also alerted NLR to system efficiencies that might not otherwise have been identified.  According to Russ, “Not only did Util-Assist enable our engineers to be more productive and precise, but their knowledgeable consultants provided support for every step in the process—from expertly managing City Council expectations, to offering valuable insights on how to communicate complex technology to our customers.”


02

City of Medicine Hat Utilities

AMI Procurement and Implementation for Gas, Water and Electricity

Business Challenge

The City of Medicine Hat Utilities (CMH) delivers gas, water and electricity to area residents, businesses and industries in Alberta, Canada.  Over 99 percent of meters for the three services are read by meter readers who drive to every part of the service territory and manually record consumption at each meter.  To enable various benefits, including providing accurate, estimate-free readings, supporting network reliability, and achieving cost savings through lower labour costs and rate recovery, CMH resolved to embark on an AMI infrastructure project.  

CMH planned to be the first utility in Canada, and one of the first utilities in North America to implement AMI across all three services.  One of the challenges is that each utility under CMH is run separately, with their own General Manager.  All decisions for this massive undertaking would require consensus across three city utilities.  

Util-Assist’s Role

Util-Assist was the successful proponent of the City’s smart metering consultant RFP to provide guidance through the shift to an AMI infrastructure.  Util-Assist’s role was to provide general program management and project support services including strategic planning, technical recommendations, and implementation support.  

Util-Assist led the CMH team through the development and release of three RFPs (MDM, AMI and Installation), followed by the vendor selection process and contract negotiations. Over a six month period, Util-Assist also led business process development exercises with the CMH team and the vendors.

Project Results

This is the largest project CMH has undertaken as a whole, and Util-Assist has brought value to the organization by successfully managing the competing interests of the three utilities.  The AMI, MDM and Installation RFPs yielded strong solutions, and sound business processes have been developed to support the upcoming changes.   

At this stage CMH has achieved its goals for a pilot AMI implementation.   Util-Assist has been involved in helping to craft the message and final report on the results which will be presented to City Council to obtain approval for full deployment over the next few years.  Util-Assist has developed an implementation plan to complete the project, and we are excited to provide continuous support to see the project through.


03

Unlocking the Potential of Smart Grid Investments

Real Solutions Implemented by Util-Assist

Business Challenge

Despite the many advantages of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), a common roadblock to investing in the technology is a lack of confidence in recovering costs.  Not only is it challenging to quantify current costs in the affected functional areas, but AMI benefits are often difficult to project.

Real Solutions

Early adopters that have invested in up-front planning to take full advantage of AMI solutions are now on the road to smart grid success, demonstrating a clear return on investment. Util-Assist helps utilities unlock the full potential of AMI, starting with developing a compelling business case that justifies the benefits of concrete solutions and quantifies the value proposition. We provide guidance with every step of the journey, with services ranging from strategic planning through to project management and systems implementation.

Real solutions implemented by Util-Assist to realize the full benefits of AMI include:

Solutions to Reap Financial Benefits:

  • Implementation of transformer monitoring which improves asset management by locating potential transformer failures, both overloaded and underloaded, and identifies theft and losses

Solutions to Gain Operational Benefits

  • Integration to an Outage Management System (OMS), leading to reduced outage durations and frequency, accurate outage statistics, and cost savings from efficiencies and lower overtime costs
  • Development of “OMS Lite:” a low cost solution that employs systems already in place to streamline restoration processes

Solutions to Maximize Efficiencies:

  • Meter-to-cash evaluations to support the impact of smart metering, optimize processes and systems, and identify new capabilities, resulting in a modernized infrastructure with standardized processes that drive efficiency and improve key performance metrics
  • Benchmark evaluations against organizations of similar size
  • Daily procedures audits to ensure staff understand and maximize the value of all data
  • Business process re-engineering to tune and update processes, staying one step ahead of changes
  • Implementation of workflow automation to execute business rules to manage large volumes of data and automate manual and repetitive processes

Strategies to Benefit from the Explosion of Data Available from Smart Meters:

  • Data analysis for rate design
  • Operational analytics studies, including load trends and forecasts, asset health, operational effectiveness, etc.
  • Customer analytics studies of consumption patterns, demand profiles, and demand response behavior
  • Network analytics studies to monitor systems, applications, and devices

Solutions to Boost Customer Satisfaction and Enhance the Utility Brand:

  • Implementation of self-serve web clients to help reduce call centre traffic and activities
  • Web presentment solutions for customer consumption data, empowering customers to manage their own energy usage
  • Deployment of Home Area Network (HAN) tools to augment conservation efforts

Util-Assist’s proven best practices and in-depth industry knowledge enable us to develop simple solutions to transform efficiency, placing utilities firmly on the path of smart grid success.


Click here to view all case studies
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