Advancing AMI Implementation Goals During COVID-19

As part of its grid modernization efforts, Tampa Electric embarked on a next generation infrastructure project to upgrade its metering network to Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). Util-Assist approaches smart grid procurement projects from a neutral stance, assessing the full marketplace and helping utilities procure solutions that best address their needs, reduce their specific risks, and meet their budgetary requirements, ultimately ensuring that each utility realizes the full benefit of its smart grid investments. With Util-Assist’s help, Tampa Electric planned to implement AMI in two phases.

Business Challenge

The first phase of Tampa Electric’s AMI project consisted of the implementation of foundational technology to enable meter reading from smart meters with synchronization between the customer information system (SAP), the meter data management system (MDM) and the AMI head-end system (HES).

In the second phase, Tampa Electric built on this foundation with enhanced functionality. One of the Phase Two initiatives was to eliminate MV-90, the meter data collection and processing application that is used at Tampa Electric to collect meter data for commercial and industrial customers. Establishing MDM as the single system through which meter data flows would bring many benefits, including minimizing the number of integrations required for advanced analytics and reporting and enabling the utility’s Smart Meter Operations Center (SMOC) to work in a single application. This is an extremely complex undertaking due to the nature of the data combined with the criticality of the customer base. The undertaking was made even more complicated by the timing—during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Util-Assist’s Role

Throughout the business case and procurement phases, Util-Assist gained a comprehensive understanding of Tampa Electric’s smart grid vision and goals. During AMI implementation, Util-Assist was contracted to provide AMI program management services, responsible for protecting the interests of the utility and ensuring that decisions were aligned across the project and subprojects. The MV-90 initiative was just one of many subprojects led by Util-Assist for solution development.

Project Results

When COVID-19 hit, all Tampa Electric and Util-Assist staff were sent home. Using remote collaboration tools, Util-Assist engaged departments across the utility to make critical decisions that affected regulatory, meter operations, customer services and more.  With business process and requirements gathering sessions held remotely, Util-Assist helped the utility develop guiding principles for the project that included avoiding customization, implementing a true system of record for the storage of meter read data for billing, and ensuring a single interface for the delivery of data to an analytics platform.

Util-Assist ultimately guided the Tampa Electric AMI team to architect a solution in which a module in the MDM system replaces MV-90 with communication through the certified MDUS solution, simplifying a complicated integration by using published standards.

Tampa Electric’s MV-90 solution is currently being implemented, a key element in the utility’s smart grid success story, thanks to Util-Assist’s portfolio of AMI expertise and ability to manage the project remotely.