Oracle ups grid performance with network management

  • February 8, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

At this week’s Distributech in California, Oracle announced utilities network management features to help utilities navigate the fast-evolving energy grid and rapidly expanding distributed energy resources (DERs).

The automated grid management and built-in AI will enable utilities to orchestrate and control DER and grid-edge devices, boost network visibility with real-time insights, and provide a unified user experience across multiple platforms.

Scada alarm triggers also alert staff to critical network information so they can act faster to resolve issues and commission points and devices quickly to optimise network performance.

An advanced distribution management system (ADMS), Oracle’s network management system (NMS) is designed to help utilities meet today’s needs and prepare for future needs by monitoring, managing and effectively optimising the grid from electric distribution to the edge of the grid.

“Oracle continues to make tremendous investments in its NMS ADMS platform,” said Michael Kelly, associate director at advisory firm Guidehouse Insights. “In supporting some of the largest IOUs across North America, Oracle is actively demonstrating the reliability and technological sophistication of its ADMS.”

Used by six of the top 10 US utilities, Oracle NMS supports more than 61 million customers. Features introduced at Distrubutech include:

  • Grid edge DERMS: Using built-in AI and machine learning, NMS now allows utilities to monitor, control and optimise behind-the-meter devices. A new web interface with built-in templates allows users to manage strategies and events, such as executing control over load devices including thermostats during high peak load periods.
  • AMI meter pinging: It is not uncommon for field crews to restore power following an outage event, only to find that some customers are still without power. This release allows crews to ping AMI meters and quickly see if any downstream nested outages remain, avoiding return trips and increasing customer satisfaction.
  • Common network viewer: Operations personnel need a consistent user experience to view and interact with the distribution network map. This release provides a performant, unified look and feel for touch-enabled map user interaction for NMS Flex Operations and utilities operations mobile app. This improves the effectiveness of map interactions such as panning and zooming and enhances the display of conductor highlights, phases, text annotations, map backdrops and other network information.
  • Enhanced digital field enablement: Dispatchers and field supervisors need all relevant data at their fingertips as they remotely manage outages and crews. NMS Flex Operations now offers enhanced touch capabilities on tablet-sized devices, enabling workers to swipe and pinch to navigate tables, forms and maps. Device responsiveness support includes the ability to change the layout automatically to support different screen sizes and screen orientations, such as landscape versus portrait.
  • Open-source operational technology middleware: A Linux version of Oracle Utilities Live Energy Connect (LEC) provides operations middleware to support fast system and device integrations across major communications protocols with low integration cost and low complexity. With a field-proven operational message bus and flexible OT architecture, the technology supports extreme scale as a utility’s needs grow. For enhanced stability supporting expanding grids, each LEC server is split into microservices that can quickly be restarted without bringing down the server. Services can also be clustered – if one fails it is seamlessly replaced by another – with clusters spread across machines to help protect against hardware failure.

“Distribution operators need an integrated ADMS platform that fully models distributed energy resources, expands automated grid management, improves customer service and reduces costs across operations,” said Brad Harkavy, vice president at Oracle. “With new features – from stronger control over surging DERs and grid devices to more reliable confirmation of successful restoration efforts – the latest version of Utilities NMS is fuelling grid evolution at scale. As a result, we are enabling dramatic improvements in system stability, efficiency, and safety while driving down operating costs with our focus on products.”

Seamlessly integrated with LEC, the Flex scada module is delivered and supported within NMS. The latest version includes enhanced alarms to alert staff to critical information on the network and improved limits capabilities to support unlimited limit bands, hysteresis and temporary limit overrides. Additionally, scada engineers can now commission scada points and devices faster to help optimise network performance and reduce operational cost.

Flex Scada gives utilities an integrated, real-time grid ADMS platform with a single user interface. It can integrate data from existing distribution automation, field, consumer and IoT devices, legacy scada platforms, DERs, and grid-edge sensor points across an array of communications protocols. With the offering, utilities get the core distribution scada capabilities required across medium and low voltage networks.