Forecasting / Scheduling
Another requirement placed on operations staff is to determine what amount of energy the current list of customer will utilize during specific time periods. Although consumption estimates were needed to calculate the cost of energy, consumers very seldom consume what was planned. Things such as temperature, amount of business, day of the week, and time of day all affect how much energy will be consumed during the next incremental time period. These increments can be as long as a month or as short as 15 minute time periods.
Marketers must therefore be able to calculate energy required at any point in time and then ensure that energy is moved to the proper points on the transmission network. Because transmission companies require all energy entering a point to leave the points, if the prediction is wrong there is either energy left at a point or a deficit. Each transmission company publishes rules and rates that govern these imbalances. These rules are meant to ensure compliance by imposing financial penalties when the imbalances begin to move outside the allotted tolerances. In most cases the financial penalties far exceed the expected margin from the sales activities.
SMART Suite not only stores data concerning the expected usage associated with the cost calculations, but uses ongoing data collection to help predict the amount of energy needed at any point on the system and any point in time. This is accomplished by establishing customer types and energy usage characteristics that can be mapped to such things as day of the week and forecasted temperatures. Marketers will then know the impact of a warmer than expected day on the total planned energy flow for that day. Because warmer weather probably means less gas consumption, the marketer knows ahead of time that they need to sell some excess energy or move it to another point (e.g., storage, imbalance pools) to avoid penalties.