The 4 most important smart grid lessons learned (courtesy of Black & Veatch)



Quick Take: Last week Black & Veatch launched its first annual Strategic Directions report on utility automation. The firm surveyed utility executives to uncover common challenges and opportunities. Having now had time to study the report, I discovered that it confirmed many of the themes I heard from utilities at this year's DistribuTECH conference.


For instance, many utilities are increasingly concerned about the reliability implications of using a public carrier network. Based on experiences from Sandy and other large storms, they fear that cellular networks will be overwhelmed and/or be too slow to return to service after a natural disaster. The Black & Veatch report tells a similar story.


Below is a quick summary of the four findings I found most compelling. Or visit the Black & Veatch site to download the full report. - Jesse Berst


1. Utilities need a robust communications infrastructure to realize the full value of their smart grid investments. "Metering, automation and data analytics are changing how utilities approach their customers and their businesses," explained Paul Miller Black & Veatch's Vice President of Private Networks. "And it's a robust telecom backbone that enables the full value of these... investments."


The report concluded that the combination of public and private telecom networks will continue. Many utilities will use cellular networks to support smart metering, but will prefer their own private networks for mission-critical functions.