The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC is working to improve the efficiency of its service territory to lower its energy demand and increase reliability for its members.
The co-op partnered with Varentec, a leading provider of hardware and software control solutions for municipal utilities, cooperatives, and investor-owned utilities. The collaboration was centered around the Varentec Pilot Project, which utilized voltage control automation to reduce peak demand charges.
Demand is based on the highest points of member consumption, and electric utilities need to have enough generation and transmission assets to deliver power during these peak times. To support this project in hopes of reducing charges related to peak demand and maintaining the associated assets, UDWI provided Varentec with data from meters in its service territory that allowed the company an opportunity to see data in real-time.
“UDWI was instrumental in Varentec’s process to get a granular look at data that’s typically only seen at the substation level,” said UDWI Chief Operating Officer Shane Smith. “This was a great opportunity for our operations department to learn first-hand about this technology and we are proud of our contribution to this project.”
UDWI began working with Varentec in 2016 and ran its pilot test through the fall of 2017. Currently, Varentec is in the process of seeking a patent for a newly-generated algorithm that would help estimate the potential impact of this technique on other systems. The algorithm was developed as a result of the data collected through the partnership and the economic success of the project. It’s anticipated that other utilities will also take advantage of this new technology.
The goal of the project was to learn how manipulation of the voltage on the line can reduce the overall demand. This will allow lower costs for UDWI from its power supplier, meaning that the co-op can purchase the same number of kilowatt-hours for a lower production cost. Once it was clear that the technology was working effectively, it was adopted quickly and is currently operating in 34 percent of the co-op’s service territory, with plans to expand to other areas when the patent is approved.
“I am very proud of our operations team for taking a leadership role in this technology and for their successful efforts in reducing our demand charges,” said UDWI CEO Doug Childs. “Kudos to our entire operations department for their leadership on this project.”