19 minutes | Sep 19th 2019

The Hidden World of Data Science in Utilities

David Millar is a man bringing analytical solutions to an industry that historically has had little data. But with the explosion of smart devices, that is all changing, and the way utilities operate is as well.David Millar: The way that electricity markets work is that you have what's called the day ahead market. And so the day before, let's say one o'clock tomorrow, markets run, and this is a big optimization problem. Ginette Methot: I'm GinetteCurtis Seare: And I'm CurtisGinette: And you are listening to Data Crunch,Curtis: A podcast about how applied data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence are changing the world.Ginette: Data Crunch is produced by the Data Crunch Corporation and analytics training and consulting company. Ginette: The father of lean startup methodology once said “There are no facts inside the building so get the heck outside.”The utilities industry is no different. Sometimes the facts that’ll make your machine learning career are waiting just outside your office.Read more at mode.com/MLutilities. m o d e dot com slash M L utilities. Ginette: David Millar is a man bringing analytical solutions to an industry that historically has had little data. But with the explosion of smart devices, that's all changing, and the way utilities operate is as well. Let's get into it.David: I'm, ah, Dave Millar. I am the director of resource planning consulting at Ascend Analytics where I lead the research client consulting team. And so my team and I work with utilities primarily to help them make decisions using analytics, regarding their longterm power portfolio. So primarily I read looking at we'll say we're retiring coal plants or retired, retired gas plant. What would we replace it with? Renewable energy. We need batteries. How do we approach these questions using analytics in order to help us come up with the best solution going forward.Curtis: You had talked a little bit about, you sent me some notes about how the, the sector that you're in, the power sector, you know, is kind of slow moving, right? It's not known for these quick changes and innovations, but you are starting to see some things that, that's gonna change this fundamentally. And so if we could jump into that and, and then get your perspective, I'd love to hear about it. David: Yeah, the power sector basically didn't change from the time of once they figured out that we're going to use alternating current that it didn't really change much in the past hundred years, that the model is essentially the same. You have big power stations that are far away from the load centers and then you have this transition network and flow of electricity is really one direction, right, from, from the big power plants to your home. And technology is rapidly changing that and it creates a space to becoming both more digital and more decentralized. So, on the digital front, we, we actually have generation technologies, that don't use anything, any spinning parts, right? so you have solar, solar power, and you have, now we're seeing more and more batteries being connected to solar. And so those are both digital technologies that are increasingly becoming this default, energy source, wind or solar and batteries and and just because the cost of the signals is have, dramatically over the past 10, 10. It's really happened over the past 10 years. And so now renewables are at parity with the more conventional sources of electricity. So gas, power and natural gas power, coal power. Curtis: Is that in terms of like how much energy they're currently producing parity or just effectiveness or efficiency. What is that parity?David: Parity in terms of costs. So, you know, as renewables drop in costs, especially as batteries drop in costs, that means that when, when I look at a problem with my clients, we're comparing, technologies that essentially have the ability, similar attributes,
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