Realizing the value of a successful smart grid implementation requires robust back-office integration and event-processing capabilities. At Lakeland Electric, the deployment of a comprehensive smart grid solution is expected to enable the automation of previously manual and labor-intensive processes to create efficiencies.

Though service-oriented architecture (SOA) and enterprise service bus (ESB) are certainly central to delivering these capabilities, Lakeland Electric is looking toward business process management (BPM) and complex event-processing (CEP) technologies as critical components necessary to deliver this value. Understanding the uses of these tools and technologies, and having the ability to apply them in a way that maximizes the value of smart grid capabilities, is critical to the success of the utility's smart grid implementation.

Lakeland Electric's Smart Grid Initiative

As Florida's third-largest public power utility, Lakeland Electric provides electricity to more than 120,000 customers. Over its 100-year history, the utility has consistently planned for the future with system upgrades and expanded services. In 2006, city and utility leadership began to explore options for a smart grid initiative. Lakeland Electric was awarded an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant from the U.S. Department of Energy in October 2009. In 2010, Lakeland retained Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) to lead its two-year smart grid initiative.

Through the city's smart grid initiative program, Lakeland is seeking to reduce its annual carbon footprint by 14,000 tons (12,700 metric tons) while installing a smart grid infrastructure to facilitate future demand response and distribution automation capabilities. The city also expects the program to improve operational efficiency, optimize capital investments to minimize energy prices and facilitate time-of-use pricing to give consumers more control over their energy bills. As an integral part of this initiative, Lakeland Electric is looking to SAIC for guidance on the most valuable uses of BPM and CEP technologies.

Business Process Management

The ultimate goal of a BPM solution is building a better business through process excellence. BPM software provides an environment to orchestrate service components into business process flows. At Lakeland Electric, the BPM tools work together with its ESB and smart grid infrastructure to provide the ability to invoke and control all parts of a multi-step business transaction spanning multiple applications and functional areas.

By leveraging BPM technology, Lakeland Electric will be able to reengineer and customize business processes to maximize the value of its smart grid solution while minimizing the impact to its existing legacy customer information system (CIS) and billing and outage management systems. Using workflow capabilities will allow tasks and events to be routed to the appropriate resource for resolution.

An example of this is the process by which power theft is detected and investigated. Currently, power theft is detected primarily by the meter reader noticing possible tampering of the meter in the field or by meter reading validation rules detecting a variation in monthly usage that exceeds predetermined thresholds. In each of these instances, the utility has established manual processes to initiate an investigation and resolve the issue.

As smart meters are deployed in the field, Lakeland Electric will be able to analyze usage at a more granular level and identify theft indicators automatically on a closer-to-real-time basis. Additionally, smart meters have the ability to identify physical tampering and send alerts of these events through the system. Each of these instances represents an automated notification of the event that must be acted on. Without the process modeling and workflow capabilities, these new automated detection mechanisms would either go unnoticed or require expensive modifications to the city's CIS and work management system to manage the investigation and resolution processes.

With BPM, Lakeland can use the tamper notification event to trigger a theft detection resolution process, which can route the event to a back-office representative for initial investigation, and then automatically create a work order to do a physical inspection of the meter. Once the physical inspection is done, the field engineer can update the status and submit the findings for continued processing. This example illustrates how BPM can help orchestrate complex, cross-organizational processes while minimizing the cost of modifying legacy systems to support the smart grid-enabled business processes.

Complex Event Processing

CEP provides the potential to add the “smart” in Lakeland Electric's smart grid initiative. The smart grid system will not only receive events and data from residential meters, but also potentially reclosers, feeder switches, voltage regulators, capacitor banks and transformers in future phases. The utility can then analyze this information from the grid to detect events occurring in the field that may require proactive action before they result in a customer outage.

Using CEP technology, the events from each of these devices can be fed into the processing engine and analyzed within the context of all the events observed in the system. Where other types of event processors allow a single type of data to be analyzed to identify trends and patterns, CEP has the capability to draw correlations between seemingly unrelated events and data to come to more intelligent conclusions. Measurements and values, gathered over the course of days and weeks, can be measured against baseline values to identify trends that exceed normal thresholds.

An example of this is the analysis of voltage data collected from transformers. Using this information, Lakeland Electric will be able to detect events such as high or low voltage, incipient transformer faults, open secondary neutral and duration overload. Once these events are identified, they can be compared to other events that have been detected on the grid to determine if a cause-and-effect relationship exists between events. If a cause-and-effect relationship is confirmed, Lakeland Electric will have the ability to identify early warning signs of potential issues and dispatch a workflow task in the BPM system, as described previously, to be routed to the appropriate system operator for investigation and resolution.

Another example of how CEP can be used is evaluating the success of various smart grid-enabled billing programs like time of use, critical peak pricing or demand management in different scenarios. Consumption data of various billing programs can be fed into the CEP along with other data like temperature readings, precipitation data, holidays and even major sporting events data to determine not only the effectiveness of the programs but also the impact weather, holidays and other events may have on the programs' effectiveness. This analysis may conclude that load-shedding events yield diminishing returns above certain temperatures or during holiday weekends. This will allow Lakeland Electric to adjust load-shed events to achieve the desired result, taking into consideration a quantified increase in the opt-out rate for these events.

System Efficiency for the Future

Lakeland Electric is currently in the early stages of rolling out its smart grid initiative. Though meter installations have just begun, Lakeland Electric has laid the technical foundation in the back office, including BPM and CEP, to make the most of its investment. The utility's smart grid initiative will dramatically increase the amount of information available about customer behavior, the status of the overall distribution network and, more specifically, the devices that operate the network. If captured and analyzed correctly, this information can greatly increase the efficiency in which the system is operated and problems are identified and resolved.

Key to being able to capture and analyze this information is CEP. Once events are identified, a cost-effective solution must be developed to manage the work across the organization. For this, BPM technology offers Lakeland Electric a flexible, robust platform for managing work while minimizing cost and impact on existing back-office systems.

Randall L. Dotson ( is project manager of the smart grid initiative at Lakeland Electric. He has 35 years in the utility business with experience in transmission, distribution, substations, substation integration, system planning and software systems. He has been employed in both the investor-owned utility and municipal arenas. Involved with IEEE and its standards for more than 25 years, Dotson is a member of the IEEE/PES switchgear committee and the high-voltage circuit breaker and high-voltage switch subcommittees. He is a professional engineer.

Tim Crowell ( is an assistant vice president and chief architect in the energy IT and smart grid operation of SAIC Energy, Environment and Infrastructure, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of SAIC. He has 18 years of experience and is an expert in enterprise architecture, systems engineering, service-oriented architecture and integration technologies.

Companies mentioned:

Lakeland Electric

Science Applications International Corp.

U.S. Department of Energy