Dynamic Scheduling System
Developed by Qualitech Solutions
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Real-Time Dynamic Scheduling of Generation Resources

Case Study

New Horizon, located in Laurens, South Carolina, is a Generation and Transmission (G&T) Cooperative that provides electric power to northwestern South Carolina. New Horizon was formed in the early 1980s to provide generation, transmission, and power supply services to its five members: Blue Ridge, Broad River, Laurens, Little River and York Electric Membership Cooperatives (EMCs). These five cooperatives serve approximately 150,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers with a peak demand of about 700 megawatts. With deregulation and increasing demand New Horizon began to evaluate ways of reducing costs and meeting demand efficiently. This meant concentrating on wholesale power costs, which are usually well over 90% of a Utilities’ total costs. In New Horizon’s case this meant changing power suppliers completely to take advantage of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) policy for wholesale deregulation. In order to dynamically purchase from Duke Energy and South Carolina Public Service Authority (SCPSA), New Horizon would have to develop a “real-time” method of purchasing this energy, commonly known as Dynamically Scheduling.

The Need to Dynamically Schedule Power

Since electricity does not lend itself to storage very easily, electricity is purchased most cheaply if you can notify the generation supplier immediately of your energy needs. New Horizon would have to monitor their energy usage at every point where they take delivery of energy, over 100 transmission grid connection meters. Now that New Horizon had information being gathered by LiveData, they needed a way to dynamically track, total and communicate their total usage to both their former supplier, Duke energy, and their future supplier, SCPSA.

The Technical Requirements
  • To gather the “real time” usage data from 100 meters every 4 seconds.
  • To write this information to a database in “real time”.
  • To gather load profile (actual hourly usage) data from meters for comparison to the 4 second usage data.
  • To communicate this usage information to their power sources via Remote Terminal Units (RTU’s) and Inter-Control center Communication Protocol servers (ICCP’s).
  • To query all this historical usage information via a Web Browser.
  • To gather and communicate this information for billing and forecasting purposes.
  • To be ready for “production” on January 1, 2001

The Solution

New Horizon chose Qualitech Solutions, Inc (QSI), a Microsoft Certified Provider, to build an “open” application using the latest development tools to meet their needs. Michael Varner, V.P. of Information Services at New Horizon, described the requirements to QSI and QSI developed an estimate and project plan to develop the software. The software allowed New Horizon to interpret the readings from the 100+ meters in a user-friendly web interface while dynamically scheduling power on a 4 second and hourly basis with three outside power entities. The web interface contains over 20 reports, including 5 reproductions of the detailed spreadsheets responsible for calculating the 200+ values being sent to the RTU and ICCP server. A fully redundant system including a clustered database server was implemented to insure non-failure of the critical data exchange processes. QSI managed all phases on the project, analysis, system architecture design, database design, software development, testing and documentation. The system went live on January 1, 2001 and is now running in a high availability configuration 24 hours a day 7 days per week meeting and/or exceeding all requirements.

Michael Varner at New Horizon, states “… QSI has demonstrated an innate ability to quickly understand my particular business needs and consistently deliver quality software on time and within budget. We consider them our strategic partner when it comes to outsourcing software development.”

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