CEA Analytics – Behind the Scenes

The CEA Analytics program collects and hosts reams of reliability data for each of its programs – (Bulk Electricity System, Service Continuity, Equipment Reliability Information System (Generation and Transmission). Members of these programs enter their own data via a web application, create reports and/or analyze the data – all they need is their password.

This process has become pretty easy for our members, a result of hard-work, time and effort over the past 7 years or so.  In this blog post, I’ll explain what the scenario looked like in 2009, and how it evolved into the (relatively) seamless and convenient data exchange procedure in place today.

In 2009, CEA Analytics (then called Benchmarking) stored data using a system called Natural/ADABAS. Members sent their data in spreadsheets, or in some cases on CDs, to CEA for input by staff.  Along with this manual data input came a fair amount of testing and validation, which was required to ensure data quality.

Discussions had been taking place with the Generation ERIS committee about migrating to a new tool, a web application that would allow the members to input their own data and to run on-the-fly reports – without the need to wait for the official annual report. The data collected for the Generation ERIS program is extensive, as it covers the state of each generating unit for each of the 8760 hours in a year (8784 for a leap year). For example, is the unit online? Is it running at maximum capacity or derated? Is it offline – if so, why? And so on. Each possibility has its own code, and again, these generating units are tracked to the minute.

The committee had to decide what they wanted from this tool — for example, dashboards, scorecards, and reports. This process was part of the “requirements gathering,” a standard practice when developing applications – where the end users communicate their needs to the developer, often through an intermediary. By this time, a development company had been engaged to create the product. The Analytics team acted as the intermediaries through the requirements process, then testing, debugging, more testing and finally, release to the committee. Documentation was prepared by the developer, and then re-worked into a less technical, more user-friendly guide for the committee’s manual.

This process was repeated for the Service Continuity, Transmission ERIS, and BES Committees. Within a few years, all Analytics members had access to their own committee’s online tool where they may input their utility’s data as well as access committee data in the form of online reports, dashboards and other options. Data quality is checked automatically, and questionable data is highlighted for further investigation.

Each committee has found tremendous value in their upgraded applications. With the enhanced capabilities of data entry and reporting comes the desire for even more features and reporting options. These improvements are continuously examined and revised and brought into the tools constrained only by budget, time and technology. New ideas are always on the horizon.

CEA Analytics presents training webinars of the online applications at least once a year, and reviews them with new members. The next step is to develop videos that will be viewable at any time by members.

This is just a snapshot of what goes on – Behind The Scenes at CEA Analytics.