Reimagining the Energy Delivery System Leveraging Modern Network Management

Bill Meehan, Esri and Wayne Meyer, Dominion Energy

People always ask Bill: “Why should we replace our trusty GIS with the new Modern Network Management Platform?” The justification is simple. Modern GIS capability is the foundation for reimagining your energy delivery technology and ensuring your future as a successful energy company—end of story.

The Energy Delivery Technology of Today

The current energy delivery technology sometimes reminds us of the wash-rinse repeat cycle we have relied on for the past 25+ years. We know that the energy delivery system is in the throes of a massive transformation. Utilities are focused on decarbonizing, decentralizing, and modernization of the grid. We must throw out all kinds of patterns and behaviors to truly reimagine. Too many of the utility industry technology systems are stuck in old thinking and processes. Over the years, we have preconceived notions of how things should be based on old practices and well-worn habits. Here are a few of those notions.

To quote an old Gershwin tune, “It Ain’t Necessarily So”

The Energy Delivery Technology of Tomorrow

The modern technology is more than a like-for-like system upgrade for the geometric network. It includes a comprehensive look at how your systems are currently integrated and how they might be in the new world that we live in. Have you considered how you are leveraging technology advancements in imagery management, AI, machine learning, and analytics? Have you imagined rich, fully integrated mobility platforms, social media-like attributes, and the ability to model complex networks of all kinds, all with the idea of future-proofing your technology stack? Hence, it works for you instead of you working for it.

Tomorrow’s Energy Delivery Technology demands siloed systems become highly integrated. Despite working tirelessly, for every silo taken down, a new one has gone up, which means siloes still need to be torn down. What is the justification? —faster decision-making, lower costs, and freeing up labor to do high-value work are just a few reasons. Modern network management must embody great integration and immediacy for a seamless user experience. It gets the as-built data from the field into GIS in real-time. Imagine a self-driving car having to take a video of the surrounding streets, extract the data, send it to be processed, and finally send it back to the car in a week so you can drive to the grocery store. That would never work, so why do we settle for disconnected energy processes functioning that way in most utilities?

When I, Bill, worked for the power company, preparing for a major storm, I had to make many significant decisions. I had to consult the paper maps, spreadsheets, databases, SCADA, the Outage System, and the local weather newscasters. I had to take all that data into my head, analyze it quickly, then make decisions. Systems and data were all disconnected. Today’s utility cannot afford to do business as I did 30 years ago. It must advance and take advantage of the new delivery technology available on the modern network management platform.

The Answer is Simple yet Profound

It is about the entire enterprise. No one is saying that SCADA, GIS, ADMS, ERP, AMI, XYZ (fill in the blank) system needs to be replaced by one massive system. Rather, each must work together to create a single-user enterprise experience. An enterprise approach gives the new crop of energy managers integrated systems for faster decision-making. The integration into the other strategic systems must be seamless. Old modes of thinking must be questioned, including the GIS, which may have been only viewed as a system containing the as-built network representation in the past. The combined systems must deliver real-time data with nearly zero effort and deliver it to all stakeholders when needed.

Here is a call to action. We cannot afford to operate the way we always have. The modern GIS gives energy utilities the tools they need to create a fully integrated Modern Network Management system. What are you waiting for? Let us get started on the future together!

Learn more about how GIS provides energy utilities with what they need for a foundation to meet the challenges today and into the future.

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