Topological Grid Segmentation

Multipurpose Data Analytics

The benefits of a systematic approach to the design of topological grid segmentation for utilities and their operational systems.

The Utility Problem

The practice of segmentation has been well-known in the distribution utility industry for many years. This type of segmentation usually includes consumer segmentation for consumer analytics. Consumer segmentation is generally run by the utility’s Rates & Consumer Programmes department to improve customer programs and overall consumer satisfaction. The attributes used in such segmentation include tariffs, type of consumer, annual energy usage, type of heating, presence and type of behind-the-meter DER, etc. The resulting segments and elements (usually consumer or meters) assigned to these segments are often geographically distributed and don’t share any other relationship except the previously mentioned attributes’ commonalities. While this type of segmentation is great for departments like Rates & Consumer Programmes, more is needed for operations departments. 

Operations departments such as Asset Management, Grid Planning or Revenue Protection approach the grid elements and consumers in a geographically-centred way. This approach might be by geographical location or further by grid topological relations. This approach is necessary due to the nature of these departments’ activities in the distribution area. For example, the Grid Planning department is interested in specific feeders and loading conditions on these feeders. Feeder, in this case, is a set of elements which share the topological Geographical Information System (GIS) connectivity relation. Another example might be the Revenue Protection department, where the losses can occur downstream of specific MV/LV transformers. As the last example, the Standards department may want to deploy a power quality measurement device to a particular part of the grid (segment), which will be evaluated.  

For these reasons, it is essential to have a segmentation option to divide the grid into topological segments manageable by operations departments. Such manageable segments then represent a set of grid locations (units) where the activities can be focused. The input and settings of the segmentation should allow for multiple options like a specification of the number of consumers per segment, number of transformers per segment, line length per segment, etc. These are all attributes which define what can and cannot be managed.

The creation of the segmentation based on simple attributes such as tariff or type of consumer is not sufficient for a grid operations-focused department. A systematic approach to the design of topological grid segmentation is required. 

 

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