Analytics leads to wiser energy use

Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company forecasts energy demand, optimizes energy-saving programs with SAS® Forecast Server

Named the 2011 Utility of the Year, Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company (OG&E) serves nearly 800,000 customers in Oklahoma and western Arkansas. The company uses SAS® Analytics to forecast energy demand, plan for future changes to its energy portfolio and optimize programs that encourage wiser use of energy. OG&E can now work with large volumes of smart meter/smart grid data without outsourcing the analysis and with a dramatic increase in speed.

"We're changing from getting [customer] data once a month to getting data every 15 minutes," explains Brian Eakin, Load Forecast Analyst. The utility expects the smart meter data to help it price energy, assess the value of new conservation technologies and plan for the future. "We have a company goal to avoid building additional fossil fuel power generation until 2020 or beyond."

OG&E currently operates nine power plants and three wind farms delivering 6,600 megawatts of power during peak times. The 2020 plan requires the company to expand and integrate renewable power sources and more importantly, to understand energy consumption patterns of individual customers so that OG&E can steer them toward appropriate energy-saving options. The company plans to forecast short-term demand to participate in day-ahead markets and pass those energy price signals directly to customers.

Looking to analytics to provide answers

"The additional information that we're getting from the smart grid program created a need for an analytical solution like SAS®,'' says Eakin. "We've gone from receiving 12 records for each customer to over 30,000 records per year."

His company chose SAS, in part because it could be integrated with a Teradata high-performance database. Eakin also liked that SAS works with a lot of industries that must analyze high volumes of transactional data coming in short intervals. "Insights gained by SAS from working in the telecom or financial sectors can be applied in the utility space,'' notes Eakin. The combination of SAS and Teradata means a dramatic decrease in data analysis time compared with the company's early efforts at using its smart grid program. "What previously took one to three days can now be done in a matter of hours," Eakin says.

In addition, OG&E no longer needs to rely on consultants to work on load forecasting. "We were able to realize significant cost savings along with having the knowledge of load forecasting and the insights gleaned as an inside resource that can be utilized in other areas," Eakin says. Doing the work in-house also allows the utility to segment customers into groups based on their usage patterns.

What previously took one to three days can now be done in a matter of hours.

Brian Eakin
Load Forecast Analyst

Understanding and meeting the needs of customers

With SAS, OG&E can make better business decisions as well. "We understand which segments of our customers are using more electricity versus which segments are using less," says Eakin, adding that OG&E can also plan the most efficient and effective way to market the company's new technology and rate options. OG&E has experimented with variable peak pricing programs that alert smart meter customers to what electricity will cost (based on demand) the following day, so customers can choose to delay activities which use a lot of power like laundry. The company has also experimented with time-of-use programs that alert customers weekly about the times of day peak or off-peak rates will be charged.

"On the operational side we are using analytics to ensure excellence in our distribution system and make sure we're getting the response from those programs that we need, and that we can justify the funding of those programs by showing the benefits."

More analysis, but not more analysts

"By increasing the analytical capabilities that we have internally, we're able to empower our analysts so that they can do a lot more in the same amount of time. What used to take a day, they're now doing in two or three hours," Eakin says.

Eakin notes that the increase in analytics power and timeliness will serve the company's plan well to manage its multifaceted program of products and services to help customers manage energy more effectively.

SAS is integral to that effort. "Going forward, I see SAS as playing a core role in the analytical and forecasting capabilities that we'll be developing at OG&E. It allows us to analyze not only our traditional applications, forecasting and resource planning, but also allows us to move into operational aspects of our business, such as analyzing customer satisfaction and interactions with our customers to ensure that we can provide the services and products that they value."

Challenge

Analyze growing volume of smart meter data to eliminate the need to build new fossil fuel power plants (until 2020) without relying on outsourcing or hiring additional analysts.

Solution

SAS® Forecast Server

Benefits

Analysts can do in hours what once took days, and OG&E can evaluate smart meter data coming from customers every 15 minutes (versus once a month) to create and measure the effectiveness of programs that reduce energy consumption.

The results illustrated in this article are specific to the particular situations, business models, data input, and computing environments described herein. Each SAS customer’s experience is unique based on business and technical variables and all statements must be considered non-typical. Actual savings, results, and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. SAS does not guarantee or represent that every customer will achieve similar results. The only warranties for SAS products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements in the written agreement for such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Customers have shared their successes with SAS as part of an agreed-upon contractual exchange or project success summarization following a successful implementation of SAS software. Brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies.

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