GE has described 2019 as a reset year, re-evaluating the tools it’s using to maintain utility effectiveness. One example of its reorganization can be found in GE Power’s growing use of predictive analytics. Earlier this summer, the company launched a handful of predictive analytics applications designed keep electric grids operating more smoothly.
Using data from transmission and distribution networks, the new tools are connected via a common data fabric and include:
Accurately predict a storm’s impact using high-resolution weather forecasts, outage history, crew response, and geographic data. Armed with this information, utilities can better prepare and allocate response crews and equipment in advance of impending storms, reducing outage restoration and improving crew safety.
Uses operational data to find errors and maintain network data integrity. As is the case in many industries, GE analysis uncovered that manual data entry errors—either at the customer or equipment level—are often the root cause of data problems related to electrical connectivity. By automating the identification and remedying of these errors, utilities can more efficiently dispatch crews and provide better customer service.
Predicts and lessens the impact of inertia from large generators on grid reliability. System inertia, relating to the imbalance of power supply and demand, is a particular issue in regions with high renewable energy use. Utilities can maintain better grid stability by forecasting system inertia and potentially reduce blackouts.
GE Power’s predictive analytics announcement is just one example of how the technology can help utilities operate more efficiently and effectively, optimize resources, and reduce waste.
Another use case can be found in the water sector. A recent report by Arcadis and Bluefield Research looked at how “intelligent water” can address the two pressing issues facing the water utility sector: affordability and resistance. A solution drawing on AI and predictive analytics could address these issues and save utilities an estimated $17.6 billion through 2027.
According to James Cooper, intelligent water lead for Arcadis, “intelligent water helps experts make the right decisions at the right times by revealing data about people and their relationship with their water, and by shedding insights into the effects of changing economic, environmental, social and political conditions.”
These implementations are fairly early stage, a fact acknowledged by GE Power’s chief digital officer. Nevertheless, it’s an exciting prospect to think about how predictive analytics can transform the utility industry, a sector so critical to our everyday lives.