By Maria Tereza Moyses Travassos Vellano and Paulo Roberto de Souza Pimentel

Operating in a highly complex metropolitan region, within an extremely dense market, with critical loads and a high degree of demand, the strategic and operational challenges of AES Eletropaulo have required a constant search for gains in productivity, best practices and innovations for business sustainability.

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Figure 1 – AES Eletropaulo’s load distribution

Considering that the smart grid concept introduces a wide range of functionalities that deliver extensive benefits to customers and to society overall, AES Eletropaulo has been making investments to adapt its power grid to this new and revolutionary way of providing energy management.

This adaptation has involved large investments in digitizing substations on the power grid, and in modernizing the operations centre and the telecommunications infrastructure. Furthermore, in using resources from ANEEL’s research and development program, a considerable number of technology pilots have been conducted in the last few years in areas of knowledge embodied by the smart grid concept.

This has enabled AES Eletropaulo to develop a strategic plan, which culminated with the launching of its smart grid program.

The program is composed of several projects, embodying the main smart grid functionalities, whereas the structuring project was launched in January this year to be developed over the next 3 years.

Throughout the world, the reasons for implanting smart grid programs are highly diverse. In the case of AES Eletropaulo these focus on: 

  • Improving the quality of energy supply 
  • Increasing the efficiency of use of assets 
  • Improving operational efficiency 
  • Reducing losses.

During 2012, several workshops were held, involving practically the entire company at all leadership levels, which aimed, from a diagnosis of the existing infrastructure and implementation in the areas of operation, automation and metering and from the pilot projects testing technology results, at aligning visions and expectations, and thus establishing the strategies for deployment of the smart grid concept in Eletropaulo.

The program aims to create a permanent innovative environment focused on the smart grid concept, in order to allow engagement of the technological and operational tests and evaluations of solutions defined in the program, which are constituted as references for decisions on large-scale implementation.

The program embodies diverse projects, which will be implemented in series or parallel, according to the company’s strategic interests: 

  • Smart grid structuring project, ‘Eletropaulo Digital’ (described below) 
  • Distributed generation and storage project 
  • Electric vehicles project 
  • Smart transformer project 
  • Asset management project.
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Figure 2 - AES Eletropaulo smart grid program overview

The project will allow the impact of implementing the smart grid concept to be fully verified within an environment that adheres more to the reality of concessionaires of large metropolises, since it aims to employ technologies in an area with a high load density and systemic complexity that stems from large urban centres.

The project has been organized in several areas of knowledge: 

  • Governance 
  • Smart metering 
  • Advanced grid automation 
  • Telecommunications 
  • Customer interaction 
  • Alternative supply of energy and distributed generation (DG).

In order to develop these initiatives and the technical support for the project, the following entities were contracted: 

  • USP/Enerq - coordinates the USP Centre for Research Support of Intelligent Networks, linked directly to the Dean of Research, bringing the following institutes, Polytechnic School, São Carlos Engineering School, Law Faculty of the Largo São Francisco, Ribeirão Preto Economics and Management School. 
  • Sinapsis – has a line of research in smart grids focused on producing methodologies and innovative software to simulate and operate a power grid. In the last few years, projects have included the study of distributed generation, electric mobility, advanced distribution automation, smart meters and consumer interaction, among others. 
  • FITEC – an R&D foundation specialized in telecommunications and energy projects. It has broad experience, having developed projects for diverse Brazilian concessionaires and equipment manufacturers involving AMI, multi utilities, prepayment, protocols, interoperability, cybersecurity, gateways and telecommunications hubs, data concentrators, energy meters, HAN/LAN/WAN networks, backhaul and backbone, smart grid and telecommunications architecture, IP networks, the management of telecommunication networks, data mining, metro Ethernet, broad band, digital TV, RF ISM and licensed and narrowband and broadband PLC.

The location to be chosen must be a model of replicable potential throughout the AES Eletropaulo concession area, since a technological and strategic roadmap must be developed at the end of the project. The chosen locations are the municipalities of Barueri, Vargem Grande Paulista and Caucaia do Alto.

Barueri is a municipality in the São Paulo metropolitan region. Its estimated 2010 population was 240,656 inhabitants, making it the 29th most populated city in the state. It covers an area of 66.14 km2, which results in a demographic density of 3,638.5 inhabitants/km2. It is also a region of high consumption, with a profile of customers, electric power grid and performance indicators similar to those of AES Eletropaulo.

In Barueri, the chosen area has 51,490 customers with an annual consumption of 1,208,232 MWh through 304 km of primary overhead grid embodying the 34 circuits from the ETD Barueri, ETD Tamboré, ETD Carapicuíba and ETD Castelo substations. The main smart grid technologies that will be implanted in this area include: 

  • Remote meter reading at 100% of customers 
  • Remote cut-off and reconnect at 100% of customers 
  • Energy balance in 100% of distribution transformers 
  • Exteriorized meter reading on regularization of illegal connections, around 2,000 customers 
  • Protected secondary network on regularization of illegal connections 
  • Prepayment for pilot evaluation 
  • Failure detection/localization 
  • Self healing grid reconfiguration 
  • Automatic warning interrupt 
  • Automatic crew dispatching.

Vargem Grande Paulista is a municipality in the state of São Paulo, within the capital metropolitan region. The Vargem Grande Paulista region occupies an area of 38 km², and is home to 44,754 habitants, according to the IBGE 2009 census.

The 32,289 clients, within a semi-rural region, have an annual consumption of 178,573 MWh, served by 374 km of primary overhead grid embodying three 23 kV distribution circuits, of which the longest spans 190 km within an environmental protection area. Due to these characteristics, the focus in this region will be smart grid solutions centred on improving the efficiency of power grid operation, advanced automation of the grid, and distributed generation.

The business plan was aimed at structuring the main visions and alternatives for a correct analysis of the project viability and minimizing the potential risks already identified. In addition, it sought to clearly define the concept of the project, its main differentials and the financial and strategic objectives, which basically involved the following premises:

  • Cost reduction or increased earnings upon combating commercial losses through four perspectives:
    • Externalized metering of energy in areas with a high rate of fraud and default
    • Balance of energy in secondary of transformers
    • Cost reduction with income management operations (client negotiations, provision for doubtful accounts, cut-off and reconnection operations)
    • Reduction in the consumption of electricity meters and increased sensitivity in very low loads (standby of electronic equipment) 
  • Reduction of costs in meter reading and delivering bills
  • Reduction of rebilling metering errors (human error and/or defective equipment)
  • Sale of scrap from electricity meters
  • Reduction of operation costs with emergency service crews
  • Reduction of unproductive trips 
  • Reduction of fines for transgressing indicators
  • Reduction of request for voltage indemnity and complaints
  • Reduction of non-distributed energy.
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Figure 3 – Project organizational structure

The governance challenges of the Eletropaulo Digital project are as complex as the technical challenges. Consideration must be given to the complexity arising from the interaction between the many institutions and suppliers of technology, with their multiple interdependent deliveries based on fair execution times.

Our point is to maintain strategic alignment, keeping in mind that the objective of this project is not only the results themselves, but also the learning process in decision making for operational implementation. Thus, the alignment of the project with this broader objective is more associated to governance than project management.

Organizational structure is an environmental factor of the company that can affect the availability of resources and influence the way projects are conducted. AES Eletropaulo, like all distributors, has a classic functional organization, namely it is a hierarchy in which each employee has a well defined superior officer.

In the case of this project, given the reach of actions within the organization, a strong matrix organization was structured, where there is a project manager and a team dedicated full-time to managing the project. In addition, the functional managers and specialists of each theme inside the organization are also the themes within the project.

Therefore, three levels of governance were established for the project:

  1. Operational level – coordinated by the project manager and constituted of specialists in diverse themes with the mission to develop, plan and oversee project implementation, identify risks, establish the technological architecture and deliver the projected products and services. 
  2. Tactical level – coordinated by the project leader and constituted of coordinators of the workgroups and the officer in charge of managing the actions priorities, manage changes and monitoring and control.
  3. Strategic level – coordinated by the project sponsor and constituted of directors of areas directly affected by the implantation of smart grid in charge of strategic decisions and approval of the steps in the program, budget and contracts.

The introduction of trialling smart grid solutions, with its multidisciplinary traits, complexity and innovation, requires the definition and specification of functionalities in order to identify the systemic requirements and equipment essential to its operation, considering the specificities of the region where it will be applied. With this, specification of the necessary systems and equipment will be possible and allow later co-creation of solutions in conjunction with the industry.

At this phase of the project specific studies will be developed in each workgroup.

The innovative characteristics of the smart grid concept have promoted an explosion of developments in systems, equipment and projects throughout the world, but the definition of technologies and suppliers that must be acquired for the Eletropaulo Digital project requires careful examination in order that the objective of the project be attained, thus, a benchmark stage was projected.

The following activities will be developed in this stage: Literature review of articles and publications from national and international congresses on the subject, research through contact with research centres and international concessionaires (CESI, ENEL, EPRI, among others) to exchange experiences, and visits to centres of international excellence for on-site evaluation of the results obtained in applications already accomplished.

On the basis of these studies, the adopted solutions will be evaluated, with the identification of the positive and negative points of these processes and consequent crafting of proposals for these workgroups with occasional adaptations to the timetable.

The smart grid concept involves not only the breaking of technological paradigms and processes within a distributor, but also promotes the breaking of the cultural paradigms of those professionals involved in the modified processes. Thus, a skills development program will be structured involving managerial, technical and operational levels, in order to enable maximum extraction of the benefits afforded by the new technological solutions.

In a smart grid project the participation of customers is fundamental, not only for the possibility of these customers to manage their own consumption due to smart meters, but also for new services such as microgeneration, differentiated tariffs, prepayment, etc.

This research workgroup aims to explore technologies and concepts related to the forms of customer interaction and participation in the process of modernizing the electric power distribution system. Studies and implementations will be conducted in three different lines: smart home (showroom), research on client and media profiles, and the evaluation of opportunities to render differentiated services and offer new products.

Implanting technological solutions in the grid without defining adequate metrics for evaluation within a broader context may lead to equivocal strategies on expanding these technologies to the rest of the system. Thus, it becomes fundamental to develop a methodology that affords evaluated performance of applications centred on the smart grid, and aimed at mapping these applications with greater adherence to the systemic reality of the market, as well as the corporate goals of the company. In the Eletropaulo Digital project, a methodology of evaluation (metrics) was developed considering the universe of progressive, sustainable operative, commercial, project performance indicators. With the identification of key indicators, some of these indicators were customized for the testing area, and at that point, they will be collected on a monthly basis in order at the end of the project, to verify if the project achieved the specified performance level and assure that the factors of success were attained.

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Figure 4 – Smart metering architecture

AES Eletropaulo has 100,000 electronic meters installed interlinked to the current metering centre which basically offers a telemetric resource, embodying all the outlying metering points, including all high voltage and wholesale market customers, all the secondary substation transformers, and about 80,000 low voltage customers. In the Eletropaulo Digital Project, about 60,000 electromechanical meters will be substituted with smart meters at customers throughout the region of the project in Barueri. This year 2,100 meters will be installed with exteriorized metering technology on the regularization of illegal connections. The project is slated to finish in 2015.

The objective of this workgroup is to implement technological infra-structures, applications and functionalities in the area of smart metering, embodying the concept of a new innovative metering centre adequate to AES Eletropaulo’s needs, and to define a solution of redundant – last mile – meter communication.

At AES Eletropaulo, the smart grid subject has been dealt with for more than five years. The company has already digitized its 150 substations, implanted 3,000 automatic reclosers in the overhead grid and automated 1,200 underground chambers. The operations centre is currently being modernized by upgrading the current SCADA/EMS systems and introducing OMS, DMS and MWM systems. Furthermore, a load project with automatic recomposition was implanted in the Vargem Grande Paulista area grid, which affords the automatic detection of faults and disconnects the least possible number of customers.

In the advanced grid automation research workgroup, innovative solutions for automating the distribution system will be developed and implemented along three basic lines: automatic recomposition of the system in situations of contingencies (fault location, isolation, and service restoration FLISR), and automatic control of voltage and reactors.

The AES Eletropaulo telecom infrastructure comprises a backbone of fiber optics and digital radios interconnecting the substations to the operations centre, and the implantation of a network based on WiMax IEEE 802.16e technology, with an infrastructure formed by 600 radio base stations and 3,500 points of access with links of 1 to 3 Mbit/s, which will be connected to automatic relays that are installed in the distribution grid, in addition to the voltage concentrators and other equipment that will be developed and/or acquired in the smart grid project.

The telecommunication workgroup has the objective of studying and mapping the telecommunications requisites and variables arising from the new services of the distribution system, identifying the technological gaps of the current market and developing new telecommunications architecture for integrated smart grid solutions, as well as developing an application for co-relating alarms in Open View.

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Figure 5 – Advanced automation networks centred on the substation

The Vargem Grande and Caucaia do Alto region is supplied by an overhead grid that begins at the Vargem Grande substation, through three 23 kV circuits, of which two are long (190 km and 130 km). The SAIDI and SAIFI performance indicators are well above the AES Eletropaulo average, as these circuits are operated at a voltage beyond company standards and cross a region of environmental protection with lots of trees.

In the alternative supply workgroup preparatory studies will be conducted to verify the impact of distributed generation – both DG and μDG – on the distribution grids, identifying its applicability, the impacts stemming from each alternative and the mitigative resources needed for its use. Activities modeling alternative DG, probabilistic and deterministic simulation and software application must be developed.

The smart grid represents an extraordinary opportunity to move the energy industry into a new era of reliability, availability and efficiency while bringing extensive benefits to consumers and to society in general.

It will be fundamental, during the initial period, to carry out testing, technological improvements, consumer education, development of standards, regulations and information sharing among the projects to ensure that the expected benefits of smart grid deployment become a reality.

Power distribution utilities need to be prepared to implement the smart grid by adapting their organization and processes, enforcing their capacities, and ensuring adequate capex.

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