Electric Utility - Case Study

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Courtesy of VisionMonitor Software, LLC

Client Background

Typical Electric Utility is a multinational leader in electric and natural gas services, energy trading, energy marketing, telecommunications, and other energy-related services.

Business Issues

Typical Electric Utility Environmental Services wanted to architect and implement a comprehensive environmental compliance management solution to track and monitor enterprise wide compliance to various aspects of air quality besides emissions monitoring.

The previous environment mainly consisted of homegrown systems developed in legacy technologies and manual processes. The issues with the previous environment were:

1. Not being able to meet EDR 2.1 specification without significant manual effort.
2. Not flexible enough to change to meet new EPA and State regulatory requirements.
3. Not being able to proactively monitor and track enterprise wide emissions data with out going through significant manual data collection.
4. Not being able to keep track of whether all the preventive maintenance checks are being performed as per schedule.

Due to the above identified issues, the time and manual effort needed by Environmental Services and Plant personnel to comply with current EPA and state regulatory guidelines was significantly higher.

Business Objectives

The client’s stakeholders wanted to achieve the following primary objectives with the proposed solution:

1. Generation of EDR 2.1 formatted report (with a grade of 9 or higher on EPA’s scale) that complies with all the current EPA guidelines.
2. Improved client satisfaction for all the end user groups associated with CEMS data and system.
3. Significantly reduce the amount of effort required to produce a compliant EDR.
4. Significantly reduce the amount of effort to track, monitor and analyze enterprise wide emissions related data.
5. Making certified CEMS data available for other parts of Typical Electric Utility organization such as Energy Trading for their decision making processes.
6. Position CEMS software to be flexible enough for the client to manage changes, due to the deregulated market and additional regulations.
7. Provide the ability to monitor, track and analyze the enterprise wide periodic preventive maintenance checks that needs to be performed by individual plant operators.
8. Prepare CEMS software to be responsible for many other aspects of air quality besides emissions monitoring. These opportunities include but are not limited to:
Reasonably Available Control technology (RACT)
NOx Bubble Management
Senate Bill Seven
Additional Quality Assurance
9. Provide the ability to monitor, track and analyze the enterprise wide periodic preventive maintenance checks that needs to be performed by individual plant operators.

Solution

After discussing the vision and objectives related to CEMS software with the client stakeholders, we proposed a hybrid approach to find a suitable off the shelf product that can meet the core requirements and then integrate it into the existing client environment and systems. As part of this effort, we performed an inception phase to gather requirements and set the stage for vendor selection for a potential off the shelf product to meet the core requirements of the CEMS system. After evaluating the capabilities of the selected off-the-shelf product, some of the following functional gaps have been identified between the functionality provided by the off-the-shelf product and the functionality the client users required:

  • Central Repository to collect and aggregate CEMS data from all the individual unit DAHS workstations.
  • A web-enabled mechanism to present the aggregated data to end users in the form of predefined reports, subscriptions and/or ability to generate static and dynamic ad hoc web reports.
  • A web-based / handheld based mechanism to track, monitor and analyze the process of performing periodic preventive maintenance checks across the enterprise.

Our solution consisted of performance analysis, design, development and deployment of the aforementioned gaps to meet the requirements of a comprehensive environmental compliance management solution that the end users will require to do their jobs effectively.

For implementation purposes, the aforementioned solution has been divided into the following phases:

Central Repository implementation
Collect, aggregate and present CEMS data from across the enterprise. This includes automated delivery of predefined reports, elaborate collaboration mechanism to publish, subscribe and manage static and dynamic reports.

Data collection
Gathering data from multiple remote Sybase servers and storing it on the Central Repository server; fully customizable data collection capabilities

Template based reporting
Setting up parameterized queries that users can use to select data, then feeding that data into an Excel spreadsheet for analysis

Script-based report delivery
Sending a VBScript file to the user to automate his local copy of Excel to create reports from a server-side template; script-based delivery circumvented known issues with server-side automation of Microsoft Office products

Reports saved by user
Once a user has run a report with his particular values for the parameters, he can rerun that report or create a new one with the same parameter values as defaults

Document Repository
Making static documents and web pages available to users

Recurring Reports
Making parameterized reports that run themselves at selected intervals and make their results available to users as static reports

User and Group security
Setting privileges by standard user / group interface

PM Checklist implementation
A web-based / handheld based mechanism to track, monitor and analyze the process of performing periodic preventive maintenance checks across the enterprise.
Open checklist item input: Listing open items for sites with input controls
Completed checklist item review: Listing all items for sites with details on data entered
Electronic logs: Providing text logs for sites and items

Client Satisfaction
The client has been extremely pleased with ours solutions, technical skill set, and delivery methodology that keeps the client stakeholders constantly involved in the entire process of developing and implementing an end-to-end business solution. The client representatives also showcased the solution in an industry conference to demonstrate the benefits of an enterprise wide environmental compliance management approach.

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