Umeå Energi (DSO) develops its grid for future needs and requirements

Umeå Energi is making strategic investments in power quality by equipping all of its power grid stations with Metrum SC101 measuring instruments. This will provide better underlying information and a distinct focus on smart grids in preparation for future grid regulations.

Umeå Energi is a wholly-owned municipal company and its operations include: electricity production, electricity grids, electricity trading, broadband, district heating and district cooling. The company currently has around 450 employees and its annual sales are approximately SEK 1.8 billion. For grid operations, the company has approximately 62,000 customers in the area covered by the grid, which is Umeå municipality. 

“Umeå is growing quickly right now and we’re connecting new customers to the grid all the time,” says Bo Fredriksson, who is responsible for measuring and monitoring the grid at Umeå Energi. We’re striving to work proactively, implementing improvements and changes well in advance of future new regulations and legal requirements. For this reason, we decided to start measuring the power quality at our grid stations.

Monitoring power quality provides valuable information that helps Umeå Energi make quick decisions and provide correct feedback to its customers. Metrum’s system generates clear, automatic reports with specific times indicating whether or not the power quality is acceptable.

“Before we started measuring power quality, customers were the ones pointing out errors,” says Mikael Antonsson. He is an electrical engineer with responsibility for power quality at Umeå Energi. Now, we receive real-time information on the operating status and disruptions. To a much greater extent, it enables us to take preventive measures and remedy any problems before they lead to disruptions that affect our customers.

Visualizes changes

Power quality measurements have proven to be very valuable when connecting new customers to Umeå Energi’s grid. One example is commercial properties that are installing technical systems for control and higher efficiency of electricity consumption. These systems create certain challenges with the grid and being able to quickly identify any problems is very advantageous. 

“If we discover poor power quality already during the construction process, we will have many more options available to remedy the problem and specify certain requirements to the contractor,” says Mikael Antonsson.

Umeå Energi also uses Metrum instruments for grid monitoring of consumption and losses. Data is collected in a database, where the customer’s electricity consumption is registered. 

“We’ve identified properties where measurements have been incorrect and where losses have also been significant,” says Mikael Antonsson. Reconciliation reports provide us with accurate information and valuable insight into overall losses in the grid. It’s difficult to assess the true value of it all. Nevertheless, we know that if we don’t measure and collect this information, we won’t be able to work with either losses or efficiencies in a meaningful way.

Umeå Energi has also invested in Metrum’s Power Monitor, which is a system for visualizing and monitoring the total energy consumption in the grid compared to what Vattenfall reports to us. Power Monitor makes it possible for Umeå Energi to see both the active and reactive power, as well as power production. Umeå Energi uses the information to, for example, optimize its subscription at Vattenfall, which has resulted in annual savings of around SEK 0.5 million.

“If we notice that we’re at the limit for our total consumption, we have some reserve boilers that are disconnectable and we only run them when there is capacity in the grid,” says Mikael Antonsson. We have a much better overview now and the Metrum Power Monitor has taken things to an entirely new level.

Clear economic incentives

Power quality measurement is an important component of grid development. With the new grid regulation, each component of the grid, such as communication with a grid station, provides a certain standard value for the company’s capital base. The capital base, in turn, sets a limit on the maximum fees that the company may charge.

“We’ve installed around 500 Metrum instruments. They contribute around SEK 70,000 per instrument, which is significantly more than what we invested from the start,” says Bo Fredriksson. The capital base is important. It helps us in our efforts to continually develop our grid, raising the quality and reliability for our customers.

Umeå Energi continues making investments in power quality and is currently evaluating new solutions that further increase reliability in the grid. One example is the ability to remotely control grid stations and disconnect cables so that faults can be remedied remotely.

“We are developing our collaboration with Metrum continually and they are very responsive to our needs,” concludes Bo Fredriksson. Ways that they have helped range from making adjustments in our reports to how the instruments are packaged in order to make installation easier for our technicians. The support agreement is comprehensive too, so we are not incurring any unexpected costs.

Umeå Energi has approximately 1,800 grid stations and 700 transformer substations in the grid. The goal is to equip each with Metrum measurement instruments. The installation process is well-tuned and approximately 200 instruments are installed per year.

Results of the collaboration
  • Grid station reconciliation reports showing losses. Ability to remedy problems early.
  • Information for making quick decisions and providing correct feedback to customers
  • Installed instruments help increase capital base in grid regulation.
  • Visualization of consumption and optimization of the subscriptions with Vattenfall – resulting in annual savings of around SEK 0.5 million.

Umeå Energi is a municipal company and its operations include: electricity production, electricity grids, electricity trading, broadband, district heating and district cooling. For grid operations, the company has approximately 62,000 customers. There are approximately 1,800 grid stations and 700 transformer substations in the grid.

Read more about Umeå Energi