Skip to Content
Find More Like This
Return to Search

Heterogenous Network Topology Manager (HNTM) for High Resolution Grid Voltage Information Capture Utilizing Existing Television Cable Infrastructure

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Contact NREL About This Technology

Technology Marketing Summary

As modern electrical grid networks evolve with the incorporation of distributed energy resources (DERs) such as wind and solar plants, stakeholders participating in energy distribution need new, efficient ways to monitor and evaluate spatiotemporal system performance in order to deliver high quality service to consumers. To this end, the capability for refined visibility to consumer demand and energy production is of paramount importance to an adaptable power system where distributors require effective solutions to stay responsive and resilient to variations in power quality.

When observing voltage and frequency measurements through traditional telemetry systems in electric distribution networks, Distribution System Operators (DSOs) can typically only observe readings at geographic aggregations of roughly 1,000 homes. This limited resolution leaves them blind to end-of-line “last mile” power quality issues at individual homes and businesses, thereby incurring overall inefficiencies and cost to their systems. To solve this problem, researchers at NREL and University of Colorado have captured a unique opportunity which takes advantage of household and neighborhood voltage data provided through the globally established infrastructure overlay of cable television Multiple System Operators (MSO’s). These companies routinely collect power quality measurements with international standards-based methods, yet with a much finer spatial resolution of 150-200 homes. NREL has devised a quick way to translate such useful, refined data for the electrical system DSO’s, thereby greatly enhancing their capability to make improved grid performance decisions.  The additional win-win benefit to this solution is the new and mutual capability for cable TV MSOs and other water, gas, and emergency service providers to share in this visibility and have access to DSO network power quality readings in order to stay better informed on operational issues and outage status.


Utilizing the established methods of Internet Protocol (IP) communication with servers at cable TV MSOs, NREL’s solution comes through an internet-based geographic information system (GIS) that offers DSOs and MSOs common capture, storage, analysis, and forwarding of power readings from spatially overlapping serving areas. The GIS contains a Heterogeneous Network Topology Manager (HNTM) that performs the function of a go-between DSOs and MSOs who each voluntarily populate the common database with data from respective geographic areas. The system then translates power quality observations from the network identifying issues in the parlance of MSOs to the identifiers and verbiage familiar to DSOs and vice versa. Such translations yield tremendous improvement for informed and optimized decisions by the respective operators.

Our techniques also include algorithmic enforcement of specific, privacy-focused rules of engagement (ROE) that dramatically limit disclosure and protect the GIS information confidentiality of every entity (DSO or MSO), thus providing an additional layer of security to the system.

  • Vast improvements to visibility of electricity supply and demand for Distribution System Operators (DSOs), Multiple System Operators (MSOs), and utility service providers.
  • Enhanced resilience to power quality variations as modern grid systems evolve with distributed energy resources.
  • Data capitalization through established world-wide infrastructures meeting international standards for power information collection.
Applications and Industries
  • Distribution System Operators (DSOs)
  • Cable Television (CATV) Multiple System Operators (MSOs)
  • Other Service Providers
  • Grid Efficiency
  • Grid optimization
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
ROI 17-95DevelopmentAvailable01/14/201901/14/2019

Contact NREL About This Technology

To: Erin Beaumont<>