ODEC: SAS Analytics energizes utility cooperative's demand forecasts
The Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) saved utility customers millions in its first year of using SAS Analytics to forecast energy demand. The savings helped the not-for-profit lower rates four times. With better forecasts, the cooperative hopes to continue keeping costs low and service levels high.
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Manager of Load Forecasting
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ODEC provides wholesale power to 11 not-for-profit distribution cooperatives in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware that serve 1 million member customers in the rural and suburban portions of those states. "Each cooperative has unique characteristics, its own weather and economic drivers that affect growth,'' explains David Hamilton, Manager of Load Forecasting. ODEC owns power plant assets and also seeks to purchase power. For energy purchases, the cooperative must contract months in advance. Bet wrong about the weather or energy needs, and ODEC is at the mercy of the spot market.
"If I don't buy enough, I have to pay whatever the market price is at the time I need to buy. If you have excess, you have to sell it for whatever price you can get,'' Hamilton says. "The electric utility field is fairly unique. But the problems we face each day are the same as those in energy, gas or oil.''
SAS allows Hamilton to forecast more efficiently. This provides ODEC with nimbleness when it comes to buying and selling power and planning for the future. "When you're investing up to $3 billion in a power plant, you need to be sure you're going to use it when you build it,'' Hamilton says.
SAS Forecast Server allows Hamilton’s department to use the most sophisticated forecasting models and techniques available, including exponential smoothing models, ARIMAX models, unobserved components models, intermittent demand models and dynamic regression – plus user-defined models. SAS models are used to support system analysis, hedging models, financial forecasts, and future resources for energy and demand. With SAS, ODEC can:
Streamlining the forecasting process
Hamilton also uses SAS to answer analytics requests from other ODEC staff members and to look at data that comes in from meter readings. "SAS came in really handy for the AMI (meter) data because the sheer volume would outstrip any Excel application or basic desktop application,'' says John Robinson, Business Systems Analyst.
"Our organization is not one to add people. If we need to do another project, then I need to wear another hat. We couldn't answer these questions for the organization if we didn't have SAS,'' Hamilton adds.
Working with SAS to implement SAS Forecast Server made the process smooth, says Hamilton. ODEC uses SAS partner Zencos to administer the solution. A SAS Gold Partner, Zencos provides SAS clients with services required for installing, optimizing and managing the SAS Business Analytics Framework. “The whole team at SAS has been so helpful,’’ Hamilton says.
Ultimately, Hamilton says, SAS takes the guesswork out of interpreting forecasts. Other solutions can tell him that power usage is down and trending toward staying that way, but only SAS helps him understand if that is related to weather or the economy or both. "If I didn't have SAS I probably wouldn't know how to do this. It's nice to be able to get a feel for how much variability is in each component that drives our sales. I know SAS has a lot of different customers with a lot of data that use SAS in different ways. It's the same for an electric utility. We have a lot of data. We have to have a system that can crunch large data sets, and you can't do any kind of analysis on these large sets without SAS."
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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Manager of Load Forecasting
Forecast power supply needs for more than 1 million member customers
SAS Analytics with SAS Forecast Server sliced in half the time it takes to build accurate, reliable forecasts
ODEC saved utility customers millions of dollars in its first year of using SAS Analytics. As a result, ODEC reduced rates four times in a single year
“We actually lowered the rate we charge for wholesale power four times in the past year.”
Manager of Load Forecasting