Providing tomorrow's energy management and metering tools today

Commercial and industrial (C&I) customers use EnergyICT hardware and software solutions to manage energy and save on purchasing costs, while energy traders benefit from real time information over the Internet by using Web-enabled RTUhardware and the EIServersystems. The company provides non-traditional, open solutions without proprietary protocols, using standards such as TCP/IP, HTTP, Mail and XML. Deregulation requires the exchange of more and more energy information. Using e-commerce standards makes a great deal of sense, because they are already widely accepted and all the tools are available. The newest electronic data interchange standards are based on XML (extended markup language). Metering companies have to forward the collected consumption data (MSCons) in an XML file, by e-mail. So why does the meter still talk IEC1107?

EnergyICT asked itself why old-fashioned serial protocols should be used to get the data from the meter or the RTU, and considered how it could provide its customers with a simple and cheap solution to read the data from the RTU+ without installing additional software. The answer was to implement a web server supporting XML, HTML, HTTP, FTP and e-mail directly into the meter or the WebRTU+. Customers simply use their browser to access all consumption data and events and to configure the WebRTU+. They only have to fill in the forms required by the device itself – and problems with different versions of software for different pieces of equipment are completely eliminated.

EnergyICT has adopted XML, HTTP and e-mail as communication protocols between its RTU+ outstations and the central EIServer data collection system, built around an Oracle™ database server. The RTU+ e-mails the consumption data in XML format to all parties, and recipients can verify the data and get additional information directly from the system.

SECURE DATA

Existing TCP/IP mechanisms secure the data access. The RTU+ server provides secure sockets (SSL) to encrypt all data exchanges, and the built-in Firewall features make this one of the most secure solutions that can be permanently connected to the Internet. Certificates to identify the RTU+ and the central EIServer can be used for further security.

Internet traders, who need to aggregate their consumption portfolio in real time, enjoy the fact that EnergyICT's WebRTU+ sends consumption data over the Internet every minute, using FTP, e-mail or HTTP. This allows traders and large C&I consumers to save on balancing power (the difference between real and forecasted or purchased consumption) either by shedding loads over thousands of sites simultaneously (the WebRTU+ receives an e-mail to activate an output, in this case shedding a load) or by purchasing additional energy on the spot market.

MORE ENERGY INFORMATION

Traders, energy services companies and C&I consumers need more and more information to operate efficiently and cost-effectively – information which allows, for example, the forecasting of load profiles, validation of consumption data, and even the evaluation of the influence of the weather. It is more cost-effective to have this data in one RTU – and it would be looking for trouble if an attempt was made to read all sensors and meters by means of serial communication between the RTU and the meters. A simple and universal standard is available in the process industry – the pulsed- and analog inputs. They integrate the quantities from any meter and provide the same meter readings and maximum demand values. The RTU+ presents a cost-effective solution to web-enable classic meters and sensors.

One intelligent multi-utility RTU with digital and analog inputs can thus satisfy the information needs of all parties in the energy industry. IP technologies offer non-proprietary solutions to provide the right information on time and in a secure manner, without having to install additional software. I am convinced that the Internet, and not the power line or RF channels, will be used as the medium to read the meters of residential customers.