Holy Cross Energy Case StudY

Chapter 2: The Setup

5 Min Read

camus team in aspen colorado
Holy Cross Energy and Camus Energy team members tour line sensors installed in HCE's service territory.

Chapter 2: THE Setup

Data Collection and Integration

One of the most intimidating aspects of managing a multitude of member DERs is handling all the associated data. In this digital age, utilities already have more data than they’re able to leverage. Layer on telemetry from thousands to millions of devices on the grid, and it gets complicated quickly.

To achieve its vision of orchestrating local devices as a meaningful part of grid operations, HCE needed Camus’ help in figuring out how to deal with the data, collecting and integrating it into a unified data foundation. 

HCE’s data collection systems included:

  • Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA)
  • Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)
  • Geographic Information System (GIS)

The cooperative also collected datasets from powerline sensors, DERs, and renewable energy systems. 

Collecting the Data

Camus worked with HCE’s IT team to understand the cooperative’s network architecture and agree on an approach for the data transfer and collection. HCE set up data transfer infrastructure within its secured internal network. 

Camus ordinarily installs and configures its data collection server during a site visit. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, HCE completed these tasks with Camus staff guiding HCE remotely. Using its standard server configurations, HCE deployed Camus’s data collection server in a “demilitarized zone”—in other words, a network separate from HCE’s internal network.

Camus provided the data collection scripts to the HCE team, who moved them onto the server, where they worked as expected. The data transfer infrastructure pushed the data over a secure VPN outside HCE’s network boundary where Camus’s server collected them in the cloud. This approach allowed Camus access to necessary data while protecting HCE’s internal network from cyberattacks

Camus’ systems never crossed the HCE network boundary. Throughout the transfer process, Camus always completed tasks on HCE’s server in a group setting with HCE and via remote control initiated by HCE using Webex. Every task happened with HCE’s consent, involvement, and direct supervision.

Astrid (Camus' CEO) and Chris (Research Engineer at HCE) stand next to two Tesla Powerwalls at Basalt Vista.
Astrid Atkinson (Camus Energy) and Chris Bilby (HCE) stand next to two Tesla Powerwalls at the Basalt Vista Affordable Housing Community.

Integrating the Data

After the data transfer, the next big step was to integrate HCE’s datasets into the Camus platform. This was a critical part of the Camus-HCE collaboration. Camus’ objective was to deploy its platform as a unified, coherent view of the grid, including all the information needed for HCE’s day-to-day operational decisions. 

The interface had to be simple and easy to navigate, while providing quick, actionable insights about the grid and DERs. At the same time, it had to enable easy access to additional data to inform deeper-dive analyses. 

Camus started by integrating its standard datasets: SCADA, AMI, and GIS, followed by optional datasets chosen based on HCE’s resource mix:

  • ChargePoint EV chargers: ChargePoint provided credentials and an application programming interface, or API, for its charging network. This allows the Camus platform to communicate with, collect data from, and control ChargePoint’s chargers. Data integrated into the platform includes but is not limited to: station location, historical and current use, port configuration, port state, voltage, and current. The integration enables platform users to send commands via the API to different groups of chargers (such as chargers at homes and businesses, public chargers, and chargers at HCE headquarters) as needed to shave peaks. 
  • Tesla Powerwalls: Similar to ChargePoint, Tesla provided Camus with credentials and an API to enable data access and aggregated control of Powerwalls installed at member homes. Data integrated into the platform includes but is not limited to: site location, battery instantaneous power, site instantaneous power, site solar power, state of charge, and maximum energy available. The platform user can specify when and for how long the Powerwalls charge, discharge, and hold energy. Users can also view and download battery power data for peak management events.
  • Community and utility-scale solar, biomass, and hydropower plants: The Camus platform also incorporates available telemetry from community and utility-scale solar PV, biomass and hydroelectric plants within HCE’s territory.  Specifically, Camus pulls in revenue meter, SCADA and AMI data from such assets including, but not limited to, real and reactive power, current, voltage, power factor, state of charge (SOC) and energy production.  Camus Energy achieves this via APIs, automatic generation control (AGC) signals, industrial protocols or even flat text files provided by third-party distributed energy asset or instrumentation suppliers.  
  • Weather data: Camus integrated data on current weather conditions and weather forecasts from several sources, including OpenWeather API, National Weather Service API, and the Weather Company/IBM.

Other datasets planned for integration or in progress at HCE include:

  • Utility-scale energy storage
  • Renewable project site weather stations
  • Smart home aggregators
  • Smart thermostats
  • Residential heat pumps and heat pump hot water heaters
  • Electric school buses with smart charging and discharging
Camus Energy team testing with HCE
The Camus and HCE teams completing acceptance testing for dispatch of resources at Sunnyside Ranch, a 1.8-megawatt community solar array near Carbondale, Colorado.

Onboarding the HCE Team

To best utilize the platform, HCE wanted to be sure that all of its team members – regardless of technical expertise - could access and analyze the data. By offering a simple user experience with robust analysis tools, it was easy for Camus to onboard a wide range of HCE staff members with varying goals, responsibilities, and skill sets. 

Camus first provided select HCE power supply and engineering staff with unique login credentials to enable them to navigate the new platform in their web browsers. Then, Camus conducted a series of canary and acceptance tests on various aspects of the platform, ranging from the verification of specific data points to detailed tests of key interfaces and controls observed by HCE’s  “super users.”

When these initial tests and verifications were complete, HCE extended platform access to additional users from member support, engineering, operations, and program administration.  

Camus staff and HCE’s super users provided training to the new users on key aspects of the platform. Fortunately with the platform’s simple interface, anyone at HCE —whether it be a member support representative or an executive—can use the platform to gain a bird’s eye view of HCE’s grid and analyze data for more informed decisions. It’s as easy as using Google Maps or Google Search.

View of Camus' DER monitoring interface
Camus' monitoring interface showcases data from multiple sources, including AMI, GIS, SCADA, and DER telemetry with geospatial information overlaid on Google Maps

At the same time, the platform also provides access to powerful capabilities. It encapsulates millions of data points, so that resource schedulers, like David Manning, can conduct complex analyses like voltage heatmaps and orchestrate distributed assets in real-time. 

Camus' DER control interface
Camus' control interface allows resource schedulers like David Manning to orchestrate utility- and member-owned assets.

Holy Cross Energy Case Study

Keep reading about HCE's path to becoming the utility of the future.

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