BPA’s Agency Metering System Replacement project will streamline the use and access of meter data across the agency, reducing the number of systems used by Metering Services from six down to three. Photo by J. Deguzman.
While many of us may only think of metering when perusing our own utility bill, the meter data captured by BPA’s Metering Services group is critical for many of BPA’s business functions. This data is used in everything from the creation of revenue bills to determining accurate load forecasts to scheduling energy for transfer customers. BPA’s customers also rely on this information to inform those same business processes within their own companies. Making sure this meter data is accurate and delivered in a timely manner is a critical element of BPA’s business and one facet of the agency’s bigger Grid Modernization initiative.
The Agency Metering System Replacement project will streamline how meter data is retrieved and organized. The new system will improve the efficiency and accuracy of the validation and release of that data for downstream users. The tool provides new automation tools to validate the data is accurate which should lead to a reduction in revised bills and unmetered data events. It will also provide the infrastructure to allow customers to set up their own custom reports, which will reduce the number of customized reports that must be generated and sent out every month and provide more autonomy to customers looking at their meter data.
“Meter data is one of the most accessed data points in the agency,” said Jeff Racicot, supervisor of Metering Services. “We get between 30,000 to 50,000 searches a month between internal end users and customers accessing meter data. This is a critical system that we need to get done right.”
Work done through this replacement project will also reduce the number of systems in Metering Services from six systems down to three. The project will eliminate extensive custom code used for antiquated systems developed in-house for integrating metering data across the BPA enterprise. This work alone will result in a savings of more than $300,000 annually.
“One of our goals was to avoid customization with the vendors, and this is working really well,” said Director of Customer Support Services Jinah Nakaji. “For the most part, we’ve adapted and molded our work within the vendor’s tools, and it’s working great. We did request a custom change but the vendor saw this as a good solution for other customers and will be offering the change in its standard software going forward.”
Replacing the multiple components of the Agency Metering System is one of the many projects that will enable BPA to engage new and emerging markets, including the Western Energy Imbalance Market, by supporting customer billing, the settlements of sub-hourly market transactions and providing proof of physical meter accuracy and data display for customers. By reorganizing the data BPA collects, all internal and external users can easily access revenue and settlement meter data as well as additional feeds of data not available before with greater accuracy, speed and reliability.
“It is critical that we improve how meter data is accessed and processed for downstream users,” said Director of Grid Modernization Allie Mace. “The Agency Metering System Replacement project will provide us the platforms to do these functions, plus the capability to adapt and update those platforms well into the future as we explore new market opportunities.”
As a result of this system reduction, Metering Services will now use the same vendor for its large scale meter data management needs as Customer Billing to produce revenue bills. This merge is designed to eliminate integration issues, data discrepancies and make all aspects of each process transparent to the other group. Even though these systems are only accessed by one or two groups at BPA, the improved output of the systems will impact thousands of internal and external stakeholders every day.
The AMS Replacement project is one of several grid modernization projects that support the implementation of BPA’s strategic goals to modernize federal power and transmission system operations and supporting technology, and to provide competitive power and transmission products and services. To learn more about the portfolio of projects, click here. To see all that’s happening with grid modernization, click here.