Itron Delivering Innovation at DistribuTECH 2020

From safe, reliable and resilient critical infrastructure to efficient and connected communities, Itron is innovating how utilities and cities manage energy and water worldwide. Come see how we are changing the game at DistribuTECH 2020, the utility industry’s leading transmission and distribution conference and exhibition, in San Antonio, Texas.

What can you expect to see from us at booth 2609?

  • Distributed Intelligence: Next-generation applications using analytics and edge intelligence to make real-time decisions
  • Grid Management: Intelligent connectivity delivering results through the use of multi-application network technology for improved grid resiliency and reliability
  • Smart Cities: Multiple use case demonstrations showing how you can create connected communities through improved efficiencies, lower carbon emissions, streetlight control and more
  • Partner + Developer Ecosystem: Growing, diverse and open ecosystem of partners developing breakthrough applications and services

More Opportunities to Connect
We also have several speaking engagements where attendees can learn firsthand how our solutions and services help our customers and their businesses.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 28
8:30 a.m. | Keynote | Welcome
Tom Deitrich, President and CEO, Itron

  • As part of the opening session, Tom Deitrich, Itron president and CEO, will share some opening remarks, welcome attendees to San Antonio and give his predictions for the future of energy and water

1:30-2:30 p.m. | Knowledge Hub Booth 4439 | Expanding the Grid

1:30-3:00 p.m. | Session | Smart Cities/IoT

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29
10:00-11:30 a.m. | Mega Session 3

  • Thirst for Power
  • Speakers: Dr. Michael Webber, Engie; Paula Gold-Williams, CPS Energy; Sharelynn Moore, Itron

11:00-11:30 a.m. | Knowledge Hub Booth 4439 | Expanding the Grid

Get in the Game
Engage with game-changing smart city and utility solutions in the Itron Experience. Learn how our solutions can deliver new insights, efficient operations and better business outcomes than ever before. Visit us in booth 2609 and take the opportunity to learn from our technology experts in this 15-minute live demonstration.

Be sure to tune in over the next few weeks to learn more about how Itron is preparing for #DTECH2020. For more insight into our role at the show, visit www.itron.com/dtech.


Developing a Combined Operational Load Forecast

With the deep penetration of non-grid connected renewable generation and storage, electric vehicle charging, smart load control and time-of-use rates now come with greater load volatility. This in turn leads to eroding operational load forecast performance. To improve system operator’s confidence with the load forecasting process, there has been a movement toward developing and presenting an ensemble of load forecasts, which could include forecasts designed to handle the impact of rooftop solar PV and electric vehicle charging, forecasts that incorporate the impact of TOU pricing and smart load control, and load forecasts produced under alternative weather forecasts.

If the alternative load forecasts are clustered closely around each other then system operations may have greater confidence in the system conditions predicted by the ensemble. On the other hand, a forecast ensemble with a wide range could raise doubts about the forecasted system conditions, leading to system operators taking actions to hedge against the worst-case scenario. In effect, the forecast ensemble quantifies the plausible range of loads that are given uncertainty around future meteorological conditions such as temperatures, wind and solar conditions, and uncertainty around price sensitive loads and load control actions.

Within this new world of ensemble forecasting, there remains the reality that most downstream applications (e.g. transmission and distribution energy management systems and market models) require as an input only one load forecast. This means the load forecasting process needs a way of combing the alternative forecasts into a single “optimal” forecast that is then used for downstream processing.

Much of the academic literature on combining forecasts starts with the seminal paper “The Combination of Forecasts”, by J. M. Bates and C. W. J. Granger (source Operational Research Society, Vol. 20, No. 4 (Dec. 1969), pp.451-469). Bates and Granger start their analysis by observing that a combined forecast formed by taking a simple average of two alternative forecasts outperforms the two alternative forecasts. They then asked, if a 50/50 weighting of two independently generated forecasts can improve the overall forecast performance, is it possible to define a method for computing an “optimal” weighting scheme that leads to a combined forecast with the smallest mean squared forecast error?

I have drafted a white paper that provides a high-level review of some of the academic literature on combining forecasts and put forth a recommendation for how to develop an optimal forecast given an ensemble of alternative load forecasts. I am looking for comments on the white paper draft. If you are interested in providing your comments, please send an email to frank.monforte@itron.com.

The final white paper should be available later in 2020.


To Move or Not to Move: Insights from CES 2020

Humans are designed to walk 12 miles per day, according to anthropologists. This dates back to when we roamed the Serengeti desert. Modern humans today generally think we are supposed to walk 10,000 steps per day, because that’s what popular apps tell us.

The technology on display at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) seems to give competing messages: minimize motion on the one hand and maximize it on the other hand.

Segway showed the S-Pod, a self-balancing chair so you don't have to walk around anymore. Or you can drive around with a Smart Cycle.

If you don't want to make the effort of driving, just attach a self-driving box to the roof of your car and it will do it for you – this includes Lidar, radar and cameras.

The smart shower mat weighs you as you step on it, right out of the shower, so you don't have to walk all the way to the scale. No need to change trash bags with Townew, the self-sealing, self-changing trash can. Rock the baby automatically with the automatic bassinet. And no need to play with your dog with the self-moving dog toys.

But not so fast! Health was also big at CES 2020. Technology makes it so that you don’t have to move, but it also gives you the tools to move in style if you want to: treadmills with screens showing you classes, cameras checking your form while you run, shoes with all sorts of sensors and all types of wearable devices monitoring your biometric functions while you move.

This advanced level of automation was also reflected in Itron Idea Labs’ demonstrations during the show, where sustainability and carbon reduction were predominant topics. In one demonstration, sustainability managers at large hotel resorts can monitor real-time consumption of energy, water, gas and steam – including the facility’s total carbon emissions – to help meet sustainability targets. In another, cities can monitor traffic patterns, analyzing data from many different sources. Automation and data aggregation at the utility and municipality level are going to make new insights available at everyone's fingertips.

Overall, our motions are becoming more valuable: technology allows us to move throughout most of our day without actually moving. But when we do move – whether in our personal lives or at the business level – each single motion is measured and analyzed.


Itron Named in 2019 Gartner Market Guide for Meter Data Management

As a trusted leader in the meter data management space, Itron has 92 utility companies currently using Itron Enterprise Edition Meter Data Management (IEE MDM) in production, serving cumulatively more than 45 million meters (75% of which are interval meters).

IEE MDM is part of the Itron® EyvaTM outcomes portfolio and supports a variety of use cases such as customer engagement and curtailment management. This solution is a critical piece for smart cities and utilities looking to extend data for innovative growth, centralize data collection and distribution into a single repository to help drive operations and analytics, and meet data quality standards.

With so many important use cases, we are delighted to announce that we were recently cited as a representative vendor in the Gartner Market Guide for Meter Data Management, which provides insight into the MDM market as well as on MDM solutions providers.
Key findings of the guide include:

  • The MDM market is maturing rapidly, with a number of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products being offered both globally and in different regional markets.
  • Metering has evolved from being just a component of the revenue cycle processing (meter to cash) to an enterprise function that supports multiple core processes such as asset management, commodity management and customer management.
  • Access to accurate, low-latency and granular consumption data is critical for utility digital transformation.
  • MDM is the IT component of smart metering (aka Advance Metering Infrastructure or AMI), which is essentially a vertical version of an Internet of Things (IoT) platform. Consequently, MDM vendors are aspiring to become more generic IoT platform providers, while IoT platform vendors are eyeing the utility market to address vertical meter consumption needs.

To learn more about our meter data management system (MDMS) for smart utilities and cities around the globe, visit Itron.com.

 

Market Guide for Meter Data Management, December 2019. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.


We are Living in the Future: A Week at the Consumer Electronics Show

I feel like the gap between what I would see in science fiction movies and what actually exists used to be much wider. Futuristic movies today show holograms coming out of your phone in broad daylight, sheets of glass that turn into TVs and robots that do literally everything for you.

Well guess what? I saw all of those things this week during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. They all exist. My colleague’s jaw literally dropped when he saw the ambient light hologram.

I saw biometrics that run your whole house: your door unlocks automatically when it sees you; the shower temperature is exactly set to your preference; and the sink faucet dispenses the exact quantity of water that you need for your brew. There were also robots that mow your lawn, robots that get a new roll of toilet paper for you if you run out at an inopportune moment and robots that play with your dog for you (so sad!). Everything is electrifying. Even the things that used to be totally manual – like a door mat, which now features a powerful vacuum so you don’t have to wipe your feet.

All of this got me thinking about the implications for energy management. We used to have around five major electric end uses in the home - HVAC, lighting, water heating, cooking and “miscellaneous plug loads.” We never had to consider toilet paper robots in our load profiles before. These smart devices can absolutely be a benefit to the grid. But if we are going to learn how to manage 50 loads in the home instead of five or 10, we are going to have to get much better at sending the right signals to these devices and to make sure they are all coordinated and optimized. This means sharing lots of data amongst a diverse set of actors, sophisticated artificial intelligence and robust identity management, access control and data privacy.

Fortunately, several of the projects the Itron Idea Labs team demoed during CES address exactly these problems. Our suite was packed all week, and we had lots of great meetings with our utility and city customers as well as our technology partners. Our future looks bright…and completely (sometimes excessively) automated!

Stay tuned for additional insights from this year’s CES event in Las Vegas. To learn more about the Itron Idea Labs team, click here.


Itron Appoints Justin Patrick as Incoming Senior Vice President of Device Solutions

Justin Patrick will join Itron, effective Jan. 6, 2020, to succeed Carl Porter as senior vice president of Itron’s Device Solutions business upon his retirement at the end of February.

Justin brings nearly 20 years of experience as a successful management and leadership professional in the operations, manufacturing, engineering, service, technical and consumer industries, globally. Most recently, Justin was vice president and general manager of Johnson Controls’ (JCI) Residential Ducted HVAC business. Prior to Johnson Controls, Justin held multiple sales and leadership roles at Carrier Corporation for eight years. Previously, he was a Surface Warfare officer in the U.S. Navy for nearly eight years.

“Justin is a proven leader with a diverse background in addressing complex business challenges and driving business results. Itron will greatly benefit from Justin’s strong analytical, organizational and leadership skills as he brings our Device Solution business to the next level,” said Tom Deitrich, Itron’s president and chief executive officer.

“I am excited to join Itron, who’s mission to create a more resourceful world aligns with my own passion for conserving natural resources. I look forward to bringing my energy, passion for winning and sense of teamwork to help accomplish our commitments and create opportunities to grow the Devices business,” said Mr. Patrick.


2019: Our Year in Review

At Itron, we're dedicated to creating a more resourceful world. Together with our customers, we work to improve the quality of life, ensure the safety and promote the well-being of people around the globe.

This year, we continued our work toward our mission with many key initiatives – and while there’s a lot to be excited about in 2020, let’s reflect on our achievements in 2019.

 

Mitigating Natural Gas Leaks

Methane gas detection is a hot topic for utilities. This year, New York City utility Consolidated Edison (Con Edison) is deploying 9,000 smart natural gas detectors – the ML-310, from New Cosmos on Itron’s multi-purpose Industrial IoT (IIoT) platform – to proactively identify natural gas leaks and improve safety for its 10 million customers. Watch this video to learn more.

In other gas news, our Intelis gas meter was selected as the winner of the “Public Safety Solution of the Year” award from IoT Breakthrough, an independent organization that recognizes the top companies, technologies and products in the global IoT sector today.

 

Xcel Energy Collaboration

Xcel Energy plans to deploy distributed intelligence-enabled smart meters from Itron across its territory over the next five years to improve reliability, efficiency and security for its customers. Together, Itron and Xcel Energy will engage and empower the utility’s customers with a new generation of efficiency and services for years to come by utilizing innovative distributed intelligence applications running on meters. Xcel Energy also aims to improve customer control with the ability to optimize the effectiveness of load control, demand response and dynamic pricing programs.

 

Water Wins

Water is our planet’s most precious resource. To reduce water loss and improve system visibility, Itron will deploy its water management system for the Department of Water and Sewage (DAE) of Americana in São Paulo, Brazil. Responsible for 80,000 water and sewage connections, the utility serves the city of Americana, which reports losses of up to 40%.

Louisville Water Company, which serves more than 1 million people in Louisville, Kentucky and the surrounding areas, will deploy Itron’s OpenWay Riva IoT solution, including replacing nearly 280,000 meters with the OpenWay Riva water communication modules, a new type of communication technology that allows usage to be captured electronically and communicated in real-time.

 

Inaugural Smart City Challenge

This year, we announced our first-ever Smart City Challenge, which invited IoT solution providers to compete for the chance to work with Glasgow and the City of London to deploy breakthrough solutions to address specific challenges defined by the cities. Instrumentation Technologies (I-Tech) and Noesis.Network were selected as the winners of this inaugural event.

The winning solution from Noesis features cost-effective acoustic sensors to address noise pollution and mitigate traffic in Glasgow. Noesis proposes deploying sensors on lampposts in areas with anticipated noise pollution from events and related traffic to identify, localize and quantify noise.

Due to the life-threatening nature of people entering the River Thames, the City of London sought solutions to improve river safety and address public health priorities. I-Tech designed a two-step solution to allow London to monitor lifebelts and pinpoint the location of a person in need of rescue support.

 

A New CEO Takes the Helm

In August, Tom Deitrich stepped into his new position as president and chief executive officer at Itron. Deitrich served as Itron’s executive vice president and COO since 2015, and succeeds Philip Mezey, Itron’s president and CEO since 2013.

During his time as COO, Deitrich played a major role in shaping the company’s strategy to partner with cities and utilities to build secure, reliable, connected communities that can offer a multitude of new services. He architected the company’s innovation and product strategy, created the product business units and global commercial and customer enablement organization, and enhanced our overall operations.

 

Resourcefulness Insight Report

As disasters are becoming more frequent, the Itron Resourcefulness Insight Report – revealed at Itron Utility Week 2019 – summarizes key findings from more than 500 consumer utility ratepayers and 300 utility executives across the United States. The report reveals perceptions on an array of topics relating to disaster preparation, response and recovery, exposing a shared and heightened worry about a disaster striking today compared to five years ago.

 

First-Ever Itron Innovator Award

During the general session at Itron Utility Week, ConEd was announced as the winner of the first inaugural Itron Innovator Award for its deployment of natural gas detectors. The award recognizes an Itron customer for driving excellence in innovation and taking advantage of Itron’s partner enablement programs to deliver value from concept to consumer.

 

Gartner Magic Quadrant for IoT Connectivity Services, Worldwide

We were recently named a Visionary in Gartner Inc.’s Magic Quadrant for Managed IoT Connectivity Services, Worldwide (formerly the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Managed M2M Services, Worldwide) for the fourth consecutive year.

According to Gartner, “The Managed IoT connectivity service market enables connectivity, data collection, and analysis and additional decision services that are necessary for connected solutions.” The report stated that, “Gartner’s coverage of managed IoT connectivity services focuses on providers that bundle connectivity, technology and technology services that facilitate key business processes and related business outcomes.”

 

Itron is committed to inventing new ways for cities and utilities to work together including the ability to cost-effectively use the same reliable, intelligent infrastructure to deliver multiple services and applications serving all of their customers.

We look forward to continued collaboration in 2020.  I can't wait to see what we can achieve together.

Happy New Year, everyone!


Itron Idea Labs @ CES 2020: Innovating for a Sustainable Future

With 275 cities adopting energy and water mandates since 2017, utilities, cities and countries across the globe are being challenged to do better and be better at preserving and protecting our planet’s resources. The need for more sustainable solutions and better conservation efforts across the globe is more crucial than ever—and at Itron Idea Labs, we have our eyes on future technology to help us meet the challenge.

If you get the opportunity to visit the Itron Idea Labs team during the 2020 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES2020) in Las Vegas, Nevada, our theme will be clear – Innovating for a Sustainable Future. Itron Idea Labs is exploring technologies that will extend Itron’s commitment to the resourceful use of energy and water into homes, neighborhoods, businesses and global communities. With 10 projects underway, our CES2020 exhibits display a robust intersection of our work with narrow band IoT, private LTE, microgrids, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

Imagine the cumulative impact if every smart home could make energy usage choices based on when clean energy is available on the grid. Our exhibit showcases ML and AI models that are quantifying the potential for emission savings by shifting load for home appliances based on grid emissions data. Consider the urgency felt by hotels and other large commercial or industrial building owners when local laws establish thresholds on greenhouse gas emissions – and set penalties. Stop by and see how Itron Idea Labs is piloting the delivery of data to hotel owners so they can determine their baseline of usage and plan the changes required to satisfy energy efficiency mandates.

In addition, one of the newest Itron Idea Labs projects will investigate the creation of a utility-focused Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) service to enable devices and applications in the narrowband space. Our team is exploring how narrow band IoT can deliver previously unavailable convenience and quality of life benefits to isolated homes or businesses in remote regions of the world.

Itron has decades of experience delivering innovative solutions for utilities, cities and businesses tasked with the resourceful use of energy and water. As Itron’s innovation incubator, our projects originate, evolve, pivot and take root through a combination of research, customer discovery, experimentation and prototyping.

We hope you’ll visit our suite at the Venetian Resort (Room 35-307) at CES2020 to learn more about our continued commitment to delivering innovative technology and services for a sustainable future. Email itronidealabs@itron.com to schedule a meeting.


The Story is in the Residuals

In any field that involves heaps of data and information, details are everything. Load forecasting is no exception. If you’ve spent any amount of time building load forecast models, trying to improve existing ones, conducting out-of-sample tests, etc., then you know these kinds of processes and assessments require paying close attention to the details. “Does that coefficient make sense? What happened in October that made the residual so big? Why does my forecast for Tuesday look a little funky? What is my model missing?” These are some of the questions I find myself asking (or being asked) a lot, and invariably, it forces you to get your hands dirty.

One could argue that the art of building good models is in the details, or as I like to sometimes call them, the residuals. Sure, in-sample fit statistics are useful, but they don’t tell the whole story. Oftentimes overlooked, the residuals can tell a powerful story to those modelers willing to listen. They can reveal outliers and patterns or trends in the data that otherwise might not be easily identified by just looking at the data. And they can give the modeler a sense for what is and isn’t working in their model.

To view a residual chart in MetrixND, you simply go to the Err tab of the model window (press the eyeglasses button) and press the button that looks like a little residual chart on the toolbar. Whether you’re building a model from scratch or polishing off an existing one, this step is a must. What I like to do is take it a step further and plot the residuals against a key variable in my model and see if I’m capturing the right pattern or relationship in my data.

For example, whenever I get asked the question, “Why can’t we just drop average temperature into our linear regression model?” I always show a scatterplot like the one below that illustrates the nonlinear relationship between loads and temperatures.

A simple regression line isn’t going to capture this nonlinearity, but I think this point is really driven home when we put average temperature on the right-hand side of our linear regression equation and then plot the residuals against temperatures.

The pattern seen in this scatterplot tells us that our model is mis-specified. The horizontal line at zero is essentially our regression line, which is showing that we’re underpredicting loads at low and high temperatures and overpredicting at mid-range temperatures. If we specify our model correctly, then we would hope to see our residuals reduced to white noise with no discernible pattern (i.e., most of the data hovering around the zero line). Fortunately, when it comes to temperature, we can leverage a polynomial functional form or heating and cooling degree variables to accomplish this.

As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” Or as I like to say, “the story is in the residuals.” Perhaps it’s not as catchy, but I think it rings true when it comes to building good load forecast models.
Happy Holidays everyone! See you in the new year!


Reduce Waste this Holiday Season

I just returned from the World Climate Summit in Madrid, which brought together key leaders from around the globe to discuss solutions and define an action plan to fight climate change. During the event, I was proud to share how Itron is contributing to decarbonization and the transformation of the energy sector with our data-driven, smart grid and smart city solutions.

Upon my return, I was met with the holiday season in full swing. Unfortunately, this season can generate enormous amounts of waste and pollution. We all have a part to play in creating a more resourceful world, and with a few simple changes, you can reduce waste this holiday season.

  1. Use LED lights instead of traditional incandescent bulbs. During the holidays, Americans burn 6.63 billion kilowatt-hours to power holiday lights, which is more electricity than many developing countries use in a year. Fortunately, you can save money and energy with LED holiday lights, which consume up to 75% less energy than conventional lights according to the EPA. It is also possible to also add a timer to control your lights and turn them off once everybody is sound asleep – reducing a few extra hours of burning lights.
  2. Use plastic-free wrapping materials. Although the word “paper” is in the name, most wrapping paper is lined with plastic. Instead of buying and eventually throwing away wrapping paper this year, use alternatives that you can recycle or reuse such as cloth bags, paper grocery bags and old newspapers.
  3. Go paperless for your holiday cards. Most holiday cards find their way to the trashcan after their short stint on the refrigerator. Instead of sending out paper cards, opt for an e-card or online slide show of photos from the year.
  4. Shop local. With online shopping, it’s easy to purchase all of your holiday gifts from the comfort of your own home, but shipping pumps large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, not to mention the extra cardboard used for all the shipping boxes! By shopping local, you can support artisans in your community, reduce the impact of shipping and give your loved ones truly unique, special gifts.
  5. Recycle. Keep the recyclable materials separate and sort them into the right trash can. Who knows – maybe these can be used to wrap your gifts during the 2020 holidays!

At Itron, we are passionate about creating a more resourceful world by ensuring efficient use of energy and water. We invite you to partner with us in our mission this holiday season by taking small steps to reduce your holiday waste.


Itron Named a Visionary in the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for IoT Connectivity Services, Worldwide

Today, Itron announced it has been named a Visionary in Gartner Inc.’s Magic Quadrant for Managed IoT Connectivity Services, Worldwide (formerly the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Managed M2M Services, Worldwide) for the fourth consecutive year*.

According to Gartner, “The Managed IoT connectivity service market enables connectivity, data collection, and analysis and additional decision services that are necessary for connected solutions.” The report stated that, “Gartner’s coverage of managed IoT connectivity services focuses on providers that bundle connectivity, technology and technology services that facilitate key business processes and related business outcomes.”

To read the full press release, click here.

To download the Gartner report, go to www.itron.com/IoTMQ.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

*Silver Spring Networks, which Itron acquired in January 2018, was named as a Visionary in the 2016 and 2017 Magic Quadrant for Managed M2M Services


2020 Forecasting Meetings – Registration Now Open!

The 18th annual Energy Forecasting/EFG Meeting will be in New Orleans, Louisiana on April 22 – April 24 with optional one-day training workshops on April 21. Forecasters continue to tell Itron that there is no greater value than meeting with their peers. Itron understands the importance of these interactions. This meeting is an excellent forum to exchange ideas and hear more about modeling concepts, data development, efficiency trends and related issues from industry speakers. Your participation is invaluable. The agenda is already filing up, but we are still accepting abstracts. Submit something today! Review the current agenda, see who has already registered and sign up at http://www.cvent.com/d/mhqxg4.

In addition, the 14th ISO/RTO/TSO Forecasting Summit will gather in Atlanta, Georgia on May 5 – 7. The summit provides a forum that brings energy forecasters together to address the unique forecasting challenges faced by independent system operators around the world. Over the past 13 years of meetings, summit discussions have ranged from sub-hourly forecasting models and techniques that support generation scheduling and dispatching to long-term forecasting supporting capacity planning. Participation and attendance at this event are limited to ISO/RTO/TSO representatives. Register at http://www.cvent.com/d/khqdfn.

Don’t miss out on these networking opportunities to discuss real world issues and practical solutions. We look forward to seeing you.


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