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(UCA) Could Save Gas Utilities Millions, Oct 19, 1998 (Chicago, IL) (05/99)

The Utility Communications Architecture (UCA) is a set of standardized guidelines for use by utilities and equipment manufacturers in developing interoperable information systems used for utility business and operations applications. UCA was developed by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) for the electric utility industry and adapted by GRI for use by gas utilities. This effort culminated in an evaluation of UCA in a gas utility environment at Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Francisco. The results are available in a GRI report, Evaluation of the UCA for Gas Industry Applications.

With gas industry operations becoming more complex, as the study shows, the benefits of UCA could be significant. With UCA in place, system operators can more easily automate systems, gather operating data, exchange information, and analyze historical statistics. However, despite the potential savings, manufacturers report little demand from gas utilities for UCA-compliant equipment.

The benefits of UCA include:
- The enhanced ability to develop integrated business applicationsacross functional areas.
- Simplified implementation of fully integrated communications networks.
- Purchasing alternatives from multiple vendors for compatible hardware and software.
- Reduced operating costs through reductions in installation,maintenance, operation, and training.
- An enhanced ability to respond quickly to the continuing changes of a less regulated, more competitive business environment while still offering value-added customer services.

At Pacific Gas and Electric Company, UCA-compliant equipment was used to collect distribution system data (e.g., pipeline pressures, flow rates, and gas quality) at regulator stations and throughout a distribution piping system, along with information on customer load, weather, cathodic protection, and other conditions. The field experiment demonstrated that it was technically feasible to implement the UCA in a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system (which recorded a wide range of gas distribution system data supporting multiple business functions), and that UCA has the potential to be lower cost compared to deploying a proprietary data collection system that supports only a single business function within a gas utility. The estimated cost savings demonstrated in the field experiment, extrapolated to the gas industry as a whole, is $133 million, with the potential for an additional $47 million savings ($180 million total) by further integrating and consolidating data collection and monitoring functions into a single "intelligent electronic device" at field sites.

Contact Jim Albrecht at GRI

composed by JohnBlack '01 - News - Standardization - Download - References - Feedback