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Charge for Demand? Why?

Today almost every meter on any given utility system has the ability to display or at least record customer demand on pretty much any interval you might select from 1 minute to 1 hour and store the maximum value until you tell it to start over. If you are using an AMR/AMI system these peaks can easily be recorded on at least a daily basis if not down to 15 minute recorded interval data.

These intricate capabilities are part of what sold most of us on the entire concept of AMR in the first place but how many of us are actually using this information to our best advantage?

Granted you must establish a particular set of parameters and you are probably required to post them in your tariff and billing information sheets before you can actually charge a customer based on demand. This doesn’t keep you from using this information to assist in your decision making process.

Using maximum demand values on a monthly basis for example can allow you to determine the likelihood of an increase or decrease in total consumption for the month. It can help make you aware of possible overload on the transformer serving that customer and, almost as important, it can help you determine the transformer is actually oversized for the needs of that particular. It can tip you off to possible diversion, equipment failure, loss of voltage on a phase and the list just keeps going.

The thing is, unless the billing system or the AMR/AMI system you are using has reports or operational procedures built in to monitor this information and alarm you to discrepancies in use patterns the entire point is moot and part of that major investment made in AMR/AMI equipment is being wasted.

All that said wouldn’t it be worth using this information to your advantage by instigating a routine method of auditing at least some portion of your demand information on a periodic basis? Whether you are billing for demand or not if you have the equipment installed to allow it you should be recording peak demand on at least a monthly basis for every customer on your system.

Using that information you, or we here at Chapman Metering, can develop trending data on the individual customer, his service transformer, the feeder he is connected to, the phase he is connected to, and actually work it all the way back to the substation. All you need is periodic demand information that can likely be poled from your billing system in the form of a text or simple Excel file.