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Friday, December 28, 2007

Electricity Costs Attacked Through XML

A power consortium that distributes a mix of "green" and conventional
electricity is implementing an XML-based settlements system that drives
costs out of power distribution. The Northern California Power Agency
is one of several state-chartered coordinators in California that
schedules the delivery of power to the California power grid then
settles the payment due the supplier. NCPA sells the power generated
by the cities of Palo Alto and Santa Clara, as well as hydro and
geothermal sources farther north. Power settlements are a highly
regulated and complicated process. Each settlement statement, which
can be 100 Mbytes of data, contains how much power a particular supplier
delivered and how much was used by commercial vs. residential customers.
The two have different rates of payment, set by the Public Utilities
Commission. The settlements are complicated by the fact that electricity
meters are read only once every 90 days; many settlements must be based
on an estimate of consumption that gets revised as meter readings come
in. On top of that, there are fees for transmission across the grid,
sometimes set by the PUC to apply retroactively. On behalf of a supplier,
NCPA can protest that fees for transmission usage weren't calculated
correctly, and the dispute requires a review of all relevant data. NCPA
sought these vendor bids three years ago and received quotes that were
"several hundred thousand dollars a year in licensing fees and ongoing
maintenance," said Caracristi. The need for services from these customized
systems adds to the cost of power consumption for every California
consumer. Faced with such a large annual expense, NCPA sought instead
to develop the in-house expertise to deal with the statements. Senior
programmer analyst Carlo Tiu and his team at NCPA used Oracle's XML
handling capabilities gained in the second release of 10g, a feature
known as Oracle XML DB. They developed an XML schema that allowed Oracle
to handle the data and an XML configuration file that contained the
rules for determining supplier payment from the data. That file can be
regularly updated, without needing to modify the XML data itself. More Information

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