When many people return home from work they turn up air-conditioning and turn on appliances causing an energy usage spike. Currently in the US, electrical energy in the grid isn’t stored, it is simply generated on demand. EPB hopes to be able to predict, and therefore mitigate, these energy usage spikes, called critical peak load.
Dr. Ashish Gupta, Associate Professor of Analytics and Information Systems in the UTC College of Business, partnered with EPB to conduct research with three MBA students: Dharti Purani, Jeff Culler, and Ginger Duggan.
EPB volunteered data from their Smart Grid for the data analytics research project lead by Gupta. Meters on EPB’s grid communicate directly with EPB every 15 minutes, showing the usage that occurred. The data displayed the energy usage of tracts, rather than individual homes, allowing Gupta and his students to study the larger scale data on critical peak load.
“We concluded that geographically, depending on where you are in Hamilton County, you have a different usage pattern. We found we could make predictions about energy usage at a given time looking at where people live. We don’t know what to do with that yet, but it’s interesting, and it warrants further study,” Culler said.
“It’s a great experience working with real world data, exploring real patterns in Hamilton County. We see the area being divided into three usage categories, and further studies could tell us why,” Purani said.
The project offered the group experience working with data analytics computer programs.
“I’ve been in the workforce, so it’s been awhile since I’ve done this kind of academic research. It was a good refresher for methods and a chance to work with new computing power, which is really a game changer. We can work with very large data sets that we couldn’t have 20 years ago,” Culler said.
“Depending on where you go to work, there are a lot of ways you could make use of experience with these research tools,” said Duggan.
The project, titled “Psychographic Profile of Energy Usage in Chattanooga from the Smart Grid,” was presented at the 2015 Research Day.
“It is part of the college experience, sharing what you’ve learned and studied, and learning from other students what they have been working on. That increases the potential to collaborate, and the overall knowledge base,” Duggan said.