Ellicott City, MD, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- February 5, 2008 – A summary of preliminary findings and observations from Newton-Evans Research Company’s newest study of transmission and distribution monitoring and control systems used in North American electric utilities has recently been released, with AMI being cited as a ‘hot’ area for investment.

The new study is expected to obtain a very strong participation rate with more than 200 large and mid-size utilities that collectively represent nearly one half of all T&D assets and more than 40% of North American end use customers. Strong representation from utilities in more than 50 industrialized and developing countries is also anticipated.

Early findings from the ongoing 2008 study of mission critical, real-time electric utility systems including energy management, supervisory control, and distribution network management activities in North American electric power utilities include the following:

A majority of large and mid-size electric utilities now operate outage management systems (OMS) separately from their SCADA system. About 15% indicated that their outage management applications would remain integral to their SCADA or distribution management system (DMS). Some reported home-grown OMS capabilities are still limited to ‘trouble ticket tracking’.

Despite marketing pressures from global equipment suppliers, the vast majority of North American utilities reporting in to date are not likely to adopt the IEC 61850 protocol beyond experimental testing during the time horizon of this new study. Officials are satisfied with their current communications protocols, led by DNP 3 (both serial and LAN versions) and are using TCP/IP to a greater extent than found in earlier studies.

When asked about plans concerning which aspects of an intelligent or smart grid program are being highlighted during 2008-2010, officials are indicating two ‘hot’ areas for investment at this time – advanced metering infrastructure and distribution network automation, including fault detection, isolation and service restoration.

The most frequently mentioned plans for additional links this year from control center systems were reported as: NERC compliance reporting systems; outage management systems; geographic information systems and customer information systems.