Advanced Grid Infrastructure (AGi)
Implementing technology to serve you even better
We are researching the installation of new technology, Advanced Grid Infrastructure (AGi), that would enhance the communication and operation of our distribution system that delivers electricity to our customers. This technology will help us monitor our system for better efficiency and operation and allow us to have two-way communication to field equipment, providing numerous benefits to our customers and Dakota Electric.
Benefits of AGi
The new technology, which will replace our existing meters and load management devices that are nearing the end of life, has many benefits including:
- Automated power outage reporting, improved restoration and customer communications.
- Enhanced reliability and power quality improvements.
- Improved energy usage information and options for our customers.
- Reduced costs for power delivery to our customers.
- Increased support of renewable energy integration.
- More efficient internal business processes regarding billing and metering.
- Better planning, utilization and operation of our distribution system.
- Operational savings.
- Improved and more effective load management system.
- Improved employee safety.
Frequently Asked Questions
AGi stands for Advanced Grid Infrastructure. Dakota Electric is using this term to refer to new technologies that would enhance the communication and operation of our distribution system that delivers electricity to our customers. These technologies will help Dakota Electric monitor our system for better efficiency and operation and allow us to have two-way communication to field equipment, providing numerous benefits to our customers and Dakota Electric.
Some in the industry have been using the terms smart grid or smart meter to refer to components of this new technology. When we use the term AGi, we are referring to what has been called “smart meters,” but it is also referring to more than that. We wanted to use terminology that captures the wider scope of this project, from the meter to our control center to our customer information system.
Our existing meters and load management devices are nearing the end of life. The average age of these devices is more than 20 years old. We have more than 116,000 electric meters and about 50,000 load control devices in use today, and we are looking at the best technology to replace this infrastructure.
We are still studying the AGi technology and the business case. We do plan to submit request for proposals (RFPs) later this spring. Those RFPs will help us determine costs and benefits for various systems. We will make a decision about moving forward after the RFPs are reviewed.
New metering technology can communicate meter readings and outage information directly to our office and help us prevent outages by identifying failing equipment or overloaded situations before they turn into extended power outages. When an outage occurs, the system will rapidly collect information from individual meters and automatically report the outage so power can be restored, even if the customer is away from home. AGi will also help support the increased integration of renewable energy on the distribution system.
We will send out RFPs to potential vendors in the first quarter of this year. After those are submitted, we will review and evaluate the proposals by mid-2017. If we find a proposal that meets our objectives and budget, we will present the project to the board of directors for a decision by the end of 2017. In 2018, we plan to install a limited number of meters and equipment to verify operation and performance of the interconnected systems. If all is in order, we will begin the installation of new meters in 2019, with meter installation taking approximately 24 months.
We estimate the entire project will cost less than $1 per customer per month, though we won’t know the exact costs until proposals are received. Besides one-time costs, there will be ongoing costs to operate the AGi system. However, there are ongoing costs with our current metering system and infrastructure that will be avoided, which is why we have quoted the costs per customer.