Data integrity is key when using it for anything engineering related. No matter what system is in place — SCADA, AMI, OMS — there needs to be a verification and validation system to ensure data is not missing.

Using Microsoft SQL, Maquoketa Valley Electric Cooperative has created an three-step data verification and validation process:

  • Focus on the communications to the sensors installed. Without a solid communications backbone to the substations and down-line devices, data will not be collected and will become useless.
  • Verify that the data expected to come back is coming back through an automated routine. Often, there is not time to manually look for missing data. Set up a way to automate this step through a vendor or custom programs. MVEC uses SQL and Windows PowerShell.
  • Validate the data coming back is within acceptable limits. If the data is not acceptable, it is not usable. For example, if a single-phase meter with a 25-kVA transformer reports back a peak demand of 150 kW, it is likely invalid.

Sidebar: Do Not Be Afraid of Mining Data

By Mark Scheibe

When I started at Maquoketa Valley Electric Cooperative (MVEC), I knew how to use Microsoft Excel and how to program VBA macros. It used to take me 4 to 6 hours to write a program to manipulate the data in a way to get the data that was needed. I then learned Microsoft Access, and what had taken 4 to 6 hours took 2 to 3 minutes. After some Access queries started to take 45 minutes to run, the next step was to learn Microsoft SQL. While new programs can be intimidating at first, Google can be used to provide links to cheat sheets for just about any data analysis program to help get an inexperienced user started.

Utility staff (and engineers) should not be afraid to use a tool they are comfortable with to analyze the data themselves. Or, if they realize the tool they are currently using is the wrong tool for the job, they should try a different program with more available features. MVEC IT helped to set up the proper database connections and ensured everything was secure. After that, the engineering department decided what data was needed to complete certain projects.

The more utilities start to use the data, the more ways they will find to use the data.

Companies mentioned:

Cooper Power Systems|

Cooperative Research Network|

dataVoice International|





Partner Software|

Survalent Technologies|