In this age of technological advances and the internet of things, customers expect a higher level of service. This new customer expectation and the exponential change in technology will have the electric power industry seeing more change in the near future than has occurred over the past several decades.
Confronting change is not new to Central Electric Cooperative, a distribution cooperative that serves more than 20,000 meters in north-central Oklahoma, U.S. A large percentage of the cooperative’s load is oil and gas — an industry known for volatility and its boom or bust nature.
“The utility industry is beginning to experience very disruptive forces,” said Central CEO David Swank. “Central has experience facing disruption from the oil and gas industry, and the board of trustees has been instrumental in allocating resources to confront this disruption with innovative technology solutions.”
Distribution management has changed significantly over the past few years as utilities are being affected by multiple forces such as new regulations, disruptive technologies and changing load characteristics. With a mission to provide safe, reliable and affordable power to its members, Central began looking for solutions to help the cooperative better manage its distribution system more efficiently.
Central recognized the need to gather and analyze data in real time to make more educated and timely decisions, which were essential to managing the growth Central was seeing on its system in 2012. An abundance of data from multiple utility systems and intelligent electronic devices required Central to re-examine its need for secure, adequate data storage and a strong communications backbone.