Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Diagnostic centre to leverage smart grid technology in Florida

Steve Rogerson
April 1, 2015
Florida Power & Light (FPL) has launched a high-tech power delivery diagnostic centre, which is designed to leverage smart grid technology to manage the electric system and deliver a reliable service that it hopes will rank among the best in the nation.
"The electric grid, which was designed and built across the United States many years ago, has remained largely unchanged for decades," said Manny Miranda, vice president of power delivery for FPL. "During the past few years, however, we've made – and we continue to make – significant improvements by integrating advanced technology to make the grid much stronger and smarter. Through innovative solutions such as this diagnostic centre, we have greater awareness of the performance of FPL's grid, one of the most advanced systems in the nation, enabling us to improve reliability for our customers."
FPL is investing in smart grid technology and using predictive analytics to deliver real-time data to engineers in its diagnostic centre. Engineers, in turn, analyse the data to measure and improve the performance of the electric grid.
FPL began modernising its system in 2010 with the widespread installation of smart meters, funded in part by a $200m grant from the US Department of Energy. Since then, FPL has invested an additional $600m, installing more than 12,000 smart devices and thousands of sensors and monitors on transformers, breakers and battery banks. The company is also investing in digital microprocessor technology that provides real-time telemetry and fault information – helping the company quickly identify and locate potential causes of outages.
"While other utilities are on the doorstep of a technological leap that will set new expectations for how companies handle reliability, FPL is already a national leader," said Jeff Lewis, PA Consulting Group's ReliabilityOne programme director. "FPL has kept the needs of customers at the forefront of its system improvements, hinging its business success on maintaining the highest standard of reliability."
Smart meters help FPL run its operations more efficiently, delivering more than $30m in operational savings in 2014 alone. More savings come from a reduction in the number of times FPL crews have to make trips into the field to perform work – 170,000 fewer field visits through 2014. Customers also benefit from faster, more convenient service connection and disconnection when opening or closing accounts.
In 2015, it plans to complete smart meter deployment to commercial and industrial customersand launch a meter enclosure alert service to provide proactive detection of potential power quality issues for customers due to issues with their meter enclosures. It also aims to deploy thousands of smart grid devices to improve service. These will include an additional 775 automated feeder switches, more than 20,000 automated lateral switches, distribution grid sensors and monitors, fault current indicators, and vault transformer monitors.
"We have made remarkable strides in our ability to monitor and manage the electric system today compared to even a few years ago," said Miranda. “Now we can detect and prevent many issues before they become problems for our customers, and when outages do occur, we restore power quicker and get life back to normal faster.”
FPL has introduced an online energy dashboard, where customers monitor and assess their energy use to help lower their bills. Last year, customers accessed the dashboard more than three million times.