Avista has multiple hydro and thermal generating facilities dispersed throughout its service territory which includes Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Larger plants have to report plant output and stream conditions to the Real Time Scheduling group for input into Avista’s Nucleus power trading system on an hourly basis. Smaller plants are required to report these same conditions every 8 hours. These numbers are utilized for a variety for situational awareness and reporting scenarios. Conditions, instrumentation, and operating procedures at each plant vary. Previously the plant output and stream conditions for each plant were captured in Excel Loadsheets that were customized to each plant. The Loadsheets were cumbersome to use and maintain and resulted in files stored on multiple drives in multiple locations. This process was targeted as one of Avista's Business Process Improvement (BPI) initiatives. The goal was to standardize the process and reduce the workload related to this process allowing plant personnel to focus on other plant duties. The PI System was selected as the system to consolidate this plant data and drive toward a standardized process for all plants. The initial implementation was built around Excel spreadsheets utilizing PI Datalink. A variety of technical and operational issues were encountered with the initial deployment utilizing Excel. These challenges resulted in several of the plants being reluctant to implement the new process. Rather than reverting back to manual processes, it was determined that PI Asset Framework would be used to embed the calculations that were being performed in the spreadsheets, and PI Coresight would be the delivery mechanism for visualization of the data. Each hydro plant has a standardized PI Coresight display for reporting and the PI System has become the single location for reporting Loadsheet data to the Real Time Scheduling group for entry into the Nucleus application. The result will be that multiple hours each month at each plant can be dedicated to other higher value plant tasks. The next step for the project will focus on integrating the data from the PI System automatically to the Real Time Scheduling Nucleus application."
Greg Paulson has a Mechanical Engineering degree from Montana State University and has 25 years of engineering experience in a variety of industries including Oil Refining, Manufacturing, Systems Integration, Consulting, Medical Systems, and Utilities. He has been part of Avista Utilities for the past 12 years and has served in engineering and management roles focused on electric metering, SCADA, and the PI System. He is currently a System Operations Engineer responsible for the PI System at Avista Utilities.
Avista is an investor-owned utility with annual revenues of more than $1.6 billion. They provide electric and natural gas service to about 680,000 customers in a service territory of more than 30,000 square miles and serves those customers with a mix of hydro, natural gas, coal and biomass generation delivered over 2,200 miles of transmission line, 18,000 miles of distribution line and 7,600 miles of natural gas distribution mains. Avista is headquartered in Spokane, Washington, and has nearly 1,500 employees that work in four western states. The PI System has been in place since 2004 and is utilized in all operational areas of the company."