In a collaboration with seven major utility companies, SAP AG has announced a joint effort to integrate Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) with Enterprise technology. AMI is the technical foundation for the industry's broader "Smart Grid" vision aimed at improving energy efficiency and grid reliability. SAP and the participating utility companies have formed the SAP AMI Lighthouse Council to address AMI from the back office to the meter, with the objective of integrating the SAP for Utilities solution to market-leading AMI Systems.
The formation of the SAP AMI Lighthouse Council demonstrates a commitment to a new AMI approach that aims to achieve integration of end-to-end processes between the meter and the backend systems and to reduce a company's total cost of ownership for AMI infrastructure. Efficient and scalable end-to-end integration is fundamental to both the success of utility AMI initiatives and to delivering shareholder value for the sizeable investment that AMI requires.
For the past nine months, the SAP AMI Lighthouse Council -- comprising CenterPoint Energy, CLP Power Hong Kong Limited, Consumers Energy, Energy East, Florida Power & Light, Oklahoma Gas & Electric and Public Service Electric & Gas -- has been shaping the integration of SAP solutions with AMI solutions for business processes, including customer relationship and billing and enterprise asset management. The SAP AMI Lighthouse Council also includes several strategic vendors, eMeter, Itron and OSIsoft. These vendors offer meter data unification and synchronization solutions that act as a powerful hub for meter and event data between AMI systems and the downstream SAP solutions.
"This has been and continues to be an impressive and somewhat unparalleled industry collaboration," said Wayne Longcore, manager of enterprise architecture and standards, Consumers Energy. "Every stakeholder in this process, including the utilities, the partners and SAP, has invested the resources necessary to put AMI-enabled business processes at the fore, giving the business a seat at the AMI table."
SAP utility customers recognize that leveraging AMI technology will require integration with the various utility applications that form the basis of their systems of record. This integration is important when tying AMI to key utility business processes, and enables utility companies to manage the processes differently than they do today. Examples of important AMI-related processes enabled by the mass deployment of smart meters include performing on-demand reads of a customer's meter through a call center, managing remote disconnects and reconnects to support the dunning process and outage reporting, and implementing time of use rates.
"Using smart metering as the foundation to build the intelligent grid makes sense from a consumer and utility view," said Karen Blackmore, research director, Energy Insights, an IDC company. "The consumer can benefit by getting quicker outage response from the utility and can be more energy efficient by accessing energy usage information via in-home displays. The utility can improve reliability by using interval meter data that feeds into outage management, asset management and load programs. In most cases, cooperative partnerships between vendors and utilities will come up with the best solutions for the utility and its customers."
"With our AMI technologies and integration with SAP, we can achieve our goals to improve energy efficiency and increase service reliability, optimize our asset utilization and, most importantly, provide better service to our customers," said Bob Frazier, director of technology, CenterPoint Energy. "The work of the SAP Lighthouse Council is the enabler of these important benefits."
The SAP AMI Lighthouse Council devotes significant time to solution architecture and the required interoperability between solution components. Of crucial concern is the management of the potentially enormous amount of metering and event data that can be collected across the AMI network and its resultant dispatch to the applications that need it to help utilities operate as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.