It’s a question we’re asked at every conference and trade show. After all, it’s difficult to tell what companies really do versus what they just talk about.
Here’s our one-sentence marketing description:
Camus Energy helps grid operators understand where and how to use local resources to deliver safe, reliable, and affordable power through simple, orchestrative control.
But what does that actually mean?
For utilities of all sizes, the transition to electric vehicles, renewable generation, and a more customer-involved grid creates both challenges and opportunities.
We help utilities use software to take immediate steps to leverage these changes for the benefit of their communities – both today and into the future.
We are strong advocates that utilities should move towards a Distribution System Operator (DSO) model – and we are actively supporting utility customers in the pursuit of this vision. As we think of it, the Distribution System Operator (or DSO) model is one where a utility uses data-driven, real-time visibility and control over distributed devices to manage a two-way grid.
That includes seeing and managing loading, voltage, and power quality at every point on the network. It also means calling upon DERs as grid assets and enabling customers to offer up their devices and be fairly compensated for providing services.
As we shift towards greater reliance on renewable generation, these local resources become increasingly important sources of capacity for a grid with more intermittent supply.
Ultimately, the DSO model is about delivering more reliable, affordable, and sustainable power. It’s a vision that we’ve seen generate excitement in communities across the country. But it can be difficult to figure out where to start.
That’s where Camus comes in.
At Camus, we’re helping utilities take four immediate, no-regrets actions as part of a long-term strategy to transform for a decarbonized, distributed future. These four investments can be made today and pursued (mostly) in parallel.
In order to manage the impact of distributed resources, utilities need visibility to the edges of the grid. After all, you can’t manage what you can’t measure.
Our software brings together utility data from SCADA, AMI, GIS, OMS, and the full alphabet soup of operational systems – with data directly from distributed devices. We help utilities take the data that’s available today and bring it together into a real-time model of the grid.
The screenshot above shows data for a single customer – you can see AMI data, solar output and battery behavior directly from the smart inverters, information from a customer information model, and even click through to upline utility equipment – like a distribution transformer.
And because data is often messy or missing, we use artificial intelligence (AI) to fill in gaps – helping our customers get more from data that’s otherwise unusable today.
We also provide forecasts for DER behavior, net consumption, and peak demand. This helps utilities better anticipate grid needs and understand how DERs are likely to behave.
With visibility from the substation to behind the meter and from the past to the future, utilities can better manage DERs at scale and use them to lower costs and bolster reliability.
A slow interconnection process is a major pain point for DER adopters – and a headache for their utilities.
We help utility planning teams accelerate interconnections without sacrificing reliability.
Our dynamic hosting capacity analysis combines a traditional physics-based model with machine learning to reduce the number of full-scale interconnection studies that your team needs to run. This can save tens of thousands of dollars for each avoided study and accelerates the time to interconnection for many systems.
We’re also developing and deploying dynamic operating envelopes – which allow utilities to provide flexible, state-varying interconnection restrictions. This gives utilities the ability to support a much higher penetration of DERs.
These are two tools that make interconnection faster and more flexible, providing a big boost to customer satisfaction and giving the utility more resources to call upon for local grid support.
The most widely-discussed area that we support is program-based management of DERs.
As hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands of DERs connect to your system, it can feel overwhelming.
Our software makes the management of these resources easier and more automated. We provide the ability to control both customer- and utility-owned DERs in a single, vendor-agnostic interface. Utilities can group devices by program or device type or aggregator and send instructions to fleets of devices at a time. If a customer opts-out or a device fails to respond, the software automatically shifts instructions to other devices to ensure the overall goal is achieved.
This approach provides a more reliable response from flexible loads and local generation – helping to call upon DERs less often while achieving better results. It also complements rate-centric approaches like time-of-use rates and discounted overnight EV charging.
Importantly, our approach is grid-aware, meaning that our software considers current grid conditions (see investment #1 above) when determining how to dispatch devices. This “grid-aware orchestration” is typically only found by combining an ADMS with a same-vendor DERMS platform. Our software helps improve safety and reliability for a fraction of that cost and complexity.
Utilities like Holy Cross Energy are using this program-based approach to save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually and provide their operators with more tools in their toolbelt.
For utilities who have gained real-time visibility, flexible planning approaches, and grid-aware orchestration, we help them enhance their grid management strategies with network optimization and market support.
At utilities who’ve deployed an ADMS, we provide two-way communications between the ADMS and our software platform. This enables the DER data to be incorporated into the ADMS applications so that the utility can procure grid services – like reactive power support – directly from customer devices.
In addition, we’re working with utility partners to enable DERs to provide services in wholesale (or ISO) markets. We’re developing approaches to coordinate dispatch of DERs between distribution and transmission system operators, ensuring safe, reliable service even while devices are serving multi-party needs. This is the crux of the FERC Order 2222 implementation – and is a major focus of our work with an investor-owned utility serving ~2 million customers.
Finally, we’re in the early stages of developing and deploying local, distribution-level markets – enabling device owners to provide services to their distribution utility in the same way as they’d provide to a wholesale market. This effort, in pursuit with multiple forward-looking utilities, will provide a complete example of the DSO model in practice in the United States.
The four investments we’ve highlighted represent stepping stones on the path to becoming a Distribution System Operator.
By enabling visibility to the grid edge, accelerating interconnections, deploying program-based DER management, and beginning to utilize DERs for grid support, your utility can be well on its way towards achieving the DSO vision.
Our team at Camus has the technology and expertise to provide the reliability, scalability, and security that your utility needs to leverage DERs as grid assets. We can fully deploy within 6-9 months, helping you save money faster and kickstart your DSO transformation.
Ultimately, we’re proud of the success of our utility customers and eager to partner with like-minded utilities to bring the DSO future to more communities. If you’re interested in learning more, contact our team or check out our upcoming webinar with La Plata Electric Association.