Smart grids for smart cities: Why LA is monitoring transformers

Thu, 2013-09-19 06:09 -- Jesse Berst

You may realize that a smart grid is an essential part of a smart city. You may even have heard of smart meters, which measure the amount of power used by a customer and report back to the utility.

But the meter is not the only part of the electric power value chain that can benefit from intelligence. More and more utilities are putting sensors and monitors on their most valuable equipment -- equipment such as transformers. Transformers, whose main job is to step voltages up or down, are an essential part of a grid. They are expensive to replace and when they fail, they sometimes blow up (literally).

Happily, the cost of transformer monitoring is dropping rapidly. Council Associate Partner Grid2020 is a leader in this emerging space. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, for instance, just completed installing Grid2020 devices at key points throughout the system. Instead of guessing the health of their transformers -- or sending someone out for an expensive and dangerous manual inspection -- they can now see it instantly on a computer monitor.

And transformer monitoring helps with more than preventing failures. Because it monitors power flow with great accuracy, it can also spot opportunities to conserve. And places where power theft is occurring. As you will read below, the U.S. loses $6 billion per year to energy theft. In many parts of the world, the figure is much higher. And now there's a low-cost solution. -- Jesse Berst


Progressive Municipal Utility Leverages Distribution Transformer Metering Devices 

Richmond, VA —GRID20/20, Inc., a leading distribution transformer monitoring solutions provider announced today that Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has successfully deployed its devices within targeted areas of the city.

“We are very pleased with the deployment progress we have achieved in support of the proactive team at LADWP,” said Alan Snook, President of GRID20/20. “Given their keen focus on maximizing service delivery to their customers, it makes perfect sense for LADWP to deepen their smart grid distribution management capabilities using our solution“, Snook added.

LADWP’s spokesperson commented, “We invested significant time and energy to evaluate the distribution transformer monitoring solution offered by GRID20/20 and feel very strongly they have created an excellent device and backend system. We are now retrieving valuable information from within the heart of our grid which we will use to improve service reliability and operating performance.”

GRID20/20 addresses a host of distribution optimization and automation needs, including critical asset loading data, preventive maintenance awareness, increased outage notification capability, costly power theft loss detection, conservation voltage enhancements, and many additional smart grid value propositions.

As LADWP continues its focus to maximize customer service delivery in the most cost effective manner, it is important that it install grid modernization tools like the GRID20/20 devices to monitor transformer health, and proactively address underperforming or failing assets.   LADWP commented that it looks forward to ongoing evaluation to ensure that its customers are enjoying the best service it can provide.

GRID20/20 is increasingly bullish on the timing of its entry into the smart grid space by recently advancing into several utilities, and expanding its sales channel presence domestically and internationally.    Scott Bussing, Vice President Sales for GRID20/20 stated, “LADWP is a great example of our ability to further modernize the grid. We are delivering a game-changing advancement for the smart sensor revolution by driving critical intelligence data from within the distribution space.” 

GRID20/20’s patented sensing technology directly and immediately enables utilities to locate and terminate power theft, aids in cost-saving power conservation practices, and helps to reduce outages.  As the global customer base demands improved service reliability at a reasonable price, the team at GRID20/20 is providing a solution that targets these needs.

The US reports $6 Billion of stolen power from its utility grids each year.  Canada, Latin America and India are similarly burdened with significant losses that GRID20/20 can now identify. Clearly, the need for grid efficiency is incredibly large.  

For more information concerning GRID20/20 and its growing list of vital distribution management products and services, visit