SDG&E’s Chris Chen talks about intellectual capital, smart grid metrics, and the Utilities of Tomorrow competition

At the recent SAP for Utilities event in Huntington Beach SDG&E‘s Manager of Intellectual Capital, Chris Chen, gave a talk on the Smart Grid Metrics being asked for by the California Public Utilities Commission.

I caught up with Chris after his talk and chatted to him about his role as Manager of Intellectual Capital for SDG&E, his talk about Smart Grid Metrics, and the Utilities of Tomorrow competition.

See below for the transcription of our conversation.

Tom Raftery: Hey everyone! Welcome to GreenMonk TV, we are at the SAP for Utilities event in Huntington Beach. With me I have —

Chris Chen: Chris Chen.

Tom Raftery: Chris you are with —

Chris Chen: San Diego Gas & Electric.

Tom Raftery: Excellent! And what do you do for San Diego Gas & Electric?

Chris Chen: I am their Manager of Intellectual Capital. So I look for innovative ideas and solutions that we have developed that can be commercialized and benefit utilities around the world.

Tom Raftery: Excellent. So have you any interesting intellectual items that you have come across that you can talk about?

Chris Chen: We have come up with a number of things, some related to electric vehicles, we have done some stuff with a thing called smart transformer which is a way to allow distributed load management at the street transformer level. We are working with a company on some micro clearing transactions for smart grid data. Now with the explosion of smart grid data, we could be settling billions of transactions every month versus a million now so we are working with a company to develop solutions to that.

Tom Raftery: Interesting! And I haven’t come across many utility companies before you have an intellectual property arm, is this unusual?

Chris Chen: Well, it’s relatively new. I think that one of things that’s driving us, we have been really the smartest utility for three years in a row and we began to realize that a lot of the problems we are running into because we are an early adapter of smart grid and a lot of solutions we are coming up with could benefit a lot more people than just our utility, so we wanted to help with that.

Tom Raftery: Okay. And you gave a talk this morning on smart grid metrics, what was that about?

Chris Chen: The California Public Utilities commission came up with a list of 19 metrics to help SDGE and the other utilities in California, measure their success at this smart grid roll outs. Now we are putting a lot of money in the smart grid, we want to — they want to make sure that our customers and ratepayers are getting a value for the money they are putting the smart grid, so there are a set of metrics they have developed to help us look at and make sure that we are in fact delivering an effective smart grid.

Tom Raftery: Okay, and what kind of metrics are they?

Chris Chen: They revolved around things like outages, things like that some of the standard utility definitions, how long are some of these outages you have, that’s related to things like the advance metering infrastructure we have rolled out, does that meaning protection go well, did customers like it and were there hardware issues or network issues with it?

Also we did more advanced things like customer engagement, part of the smart grid is meant to engage customers in managing the grid and so they had some metrics around that, had metrics around electric vehicles and a number of electric vehicles being put into our system, also metrics around distributed generation another critical issue of smart grid and the smart grid will help us integrate renewables and be good for our customers, good for their environment, all the benefit of that.

Tom Raftery: Okay and you have mentioned as well, that there is kind of tendency now to move from the idea of asking the question of what happened to what’s happening?

Chris Chen: Yes, we call that predictive analytics. It used to be what happened, now we need — because we have so much more real time data available, now our internal operations are asking what’s happening now, but I think the next stage is going to be so and what’s going to happen, so that data that’s coming from all the smart grid, sensors and systems that we have out there, is going to help us look at things like renewable generation, yeah renewable generations is very intermittent, cloud cover comes over, all your solar goes away for a little while, we’d love to be able to predict that. So we can manage our system more effectively, customer loads, we’d like to predict what customer loads will be so we can combine that with things like understanding solar generation and really manage our system most efficiently.

Tom Raftery: Fantastic! And you are talking later on this afternoon about the utilities of tomorrow contest, can you tell us about that?

Chris Chen: Yes, so SAP in conjunction with several utilities and universities is sponsoring the Utilities Of Tomorrow contest, where we are going to invite students, teams of students from universities all over the world, actually any student can submit a proposal to come up with an innovative ideas related to the energy industry and not just energy, actually it’s any utilities so it could be water or waste management also and then we are going to have a group of experts asses those ideas pick the best ones and bring team of students out to work with experts in Silicon Valley on an expense paid trip to help develop their idea.

Tom Raftery:
And is it a global competition?

Chris Chen: Yes it is.

Tom Raftery: Excellent, Fantastic. Chris that’s been great, thanks for talking to us.

Chris Chen: My pleasure Tom.

SDG&E’s Chris Chen talks about intellectual capital, smart grid metrics, and the Utilities of Tomorrow competition

City of Cape Town’s AnneMarie Groenewald on AMI and efficiency to ensure a reliable supply

At the 2013 SAP for Utilities event in Huntington Beach, I met up with AnneMarie Groenewald who works for the City of Cape Town’s Electricity Services Department in South Africa. AnneMarie gave a talk at the event about their SAP AMI implementation. I caught up with AnneMarie after her talk and asked her how it benefited the city, especially in light of the rolling blackouts which had been an issue in South Africa in years past.

Here’s a transcription of our conversation:

Tom Raftery: Hey everyone! Welcome to GreenMonk TV, I am here at the SAP for Utilities event in Huntington Beach, I’m with.

AnneMarie Groenewald: AnneMarie Groenewald, I’m from the city of Cape Town in South Africa, I’m the head of the ERP Revenue team looking after the SAP implementation for that part.

Tom Raftery: Okay, so you’ve got a few interesting challenges in South Africa. For years, you’ve been having rolling blackouts and these kinds of things, what are you doing to address such kinds of issues?

AnneMarie Groenewald: It’s because we had those rolling blackouts and we only have one utility company, providing electricity for the whole of South Africa, there’s actually now legislation in place that we must manage the electricity consumption better and we must inform our customers of the electricity consumption.

So now we have implemented SAP AMI solution. It’s automated meter reading interface, it gives the customers, they can login through a web portal where they can see their consumption on a half hourly basis, and it entitles them to manage the electricity better, may be they also decide they want to use the electricity more off peak, so that they can get a better rate as well.

Tom Raftery: Interesting. So you were saying earlier that there is not just the ability for them to see their own information but there is also tariff comparisons that they can do.

AnneMarie Groenewald: Yes, the tariff comparison that they can see their use, most of the electricity or they can swift — using most of the electricity may be at night so that they can have an off peak tariff that is more favorable then during peak hours when everybody is using electricity.

Tom Raftery: And how is that helping with the rolling blackouts?

AnneMarie Groenewald: Well, at the moment, since 2008-2009 rolling blackouts are under control. I don’t think it’s yet because of this implementation but people are just more aware because the governments are also making us a lot of aware publicly of electricity usage.

Tom Raftery: And are there efficiency programs rolled out as well?

AnneMarie Groenewald: Yes, they constantly — there is media releases, that’s on the radio constantly telling people replace your bulbs with bulbs that use less electricity, switch off your geyser during peak hours and that’s how there is public awareness is going out a lot. And I think people are actually adhering into it.

Tom Raftery: Okay and how does this program that you’ve rolled out, how does it compare with the rest of Africa?

AnneMarie Groenewald: At the moment, when we implemented, we are the only one in Africa that implement this AMI solution. There are other municipalities in South Africa looking at it but they are not live yet.

Tom Raftery: And you’ve just rolled out in Cape Town so far, how long before it gets rolled to the rest of South Africa?

AnneMarie Groenewald: That depends on all the other municipalities, because they are all independently. So we’ve done it, at the moment we are only at the large power uses and the big customers, we will still get to the normal households.

Tom Raftery: AnneMarie that’s been great, thanks for talking to us today.

AnneMarie Groenewald: It’s a pleasure, thank you.

City of Cape Town’s AnneMarie Groenewald on AMI and efficiency to ensure a reliable supply