For the past decade, utility industry leaders have been focused on creating a smarter grid, which emphasized connecting aging assets and infrastructure to sensors and communication networks. However, a true transformation is needed to build a system that simultaneously works for customers, society, and energy providers. This transformation is the creation of a digital grid. A digital utility will be customer-centric, resilient, distributed, automated, and hyper-connected with fluid collaboration between AI and human processes. Digital utilities will tackle the business challenges of aging infrastructure, a regulatory system in flux, distributed energy resources and ensuring reliability.

One of the best examples of a utility moving towards full digitalization is the New York Power Authority (NYPA) with its new power flow control digital laboratory designed to integrate renewable energy. NYPA has been aiming to become the world’s first “fully-digital utility”. Earlier this year NYPA started connecting relays and testing at its brand new Advanced Grid Innovation Laboratory for Energy (AGILe). Upstate New York has an abundance of wind and hydroelectric generation, and the statewide public utility is installing a distributed flexible alternating current transmission system capable of moving power from congested lines to underutilized ones along NYPA’s north-south corridor. Digital technologies are crucial for this project as real-time monitoring and network communications are essential for the optimization of power flows. NYPA is working to quickly roll out sensors and monitoring equipment that will give it increasing visibility into grid operations, while at the same time focusing on equipping its employees with new access and digital tools.

The AGILe lab’s digital strategy serves to bring more renewables onto the grid while also helping to reduce costs for the state and ratepayers. “NYPA has developed an industry leading R&D facility to support efforts like the Moses Adirondack Advanced Power Flow Control project,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “Given the project’s potential to not only bring more renewable resources onto the New York State grid but also to reduce costs for the state and ratepayers, AGILe’s testing capabilities are critical to ensure this system is deployed quickly and reliably in support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy and the Green New Deal.”

NYPA’s embrace of digital technologies is on the cutting edge, but Zpryme recently released a report that showed a broad trend towards digitalization in the industry. “Building the 21st Century Digital Grid” found that there is a broad consensus that digital modernization is crucial for the industry to meet challenges related to changing customer demands, technological disruption, and a new regulatory framework. 91% of respondents report that embracing digital technology is crucial to the future success of their utilities. Furthermore, utilities have been working on this modernization for most of the last decade, and 76% of utilities expect to be able to align digital strategy with regulatory policy and fill key digital roles in their enterprise. However, only 23% of utilities have reached a level of digital maturity where they are making capital expenditure decisions based on predictive analytics.

Digital Maturity Curve

“This paper really shows the progression from data to actionable intelligence,” said Gary Rackliffe, ABB Vice President, Smart Grids and Grid Modernization. “Utilities already collect a tremendous amount of data, but they are still in the early stages of applying it. This research offers some insight about where utilities are focused on developing their digital maturity.”

The report, which included surveys of 150 utility industry professionals, lays out a three-stage “digital maturity curve” that shows how utilities can modernize and become more resilient, automated and customer-focused. The stages of maturity starts with digitization, continues with digitalization, and is fully realized with enterprise integration. The purpose of digitalization should be to transform the business processes by end-to-end sharing of information across the entire enterprise, ultimately improving operations and customer experience.

NYPA’s President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones will be discussing their approach to digital transformation with Zpryme. The webinar will focus on NYPA’s progress and next steps in their effort to become the first end-to-end digital utility. Furthermore, it will explore the steps utilities must take to reach full digital enterprise integration and how business models are evolving as utilities move towards enterprise integration. Zpryme will also be speaking Gary Rackliffe.

Join us on Monday July 8th at 3 pm EST for the webinar.

For more information on becoming a digital utility download the report and check out the interactive infographic.