Contrarian alert: Another round of smart grid growth?

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By: SGN Staff

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Quick Take: Conventional wisdom says that the smart grid has hit a plateau. The U.S. stimulus money is largely spent, the smart metering surge is past, and hot areas such as distribution automation and Big Data are not yet big enough to take up the slack.

 

So far, so true. But conventional wisdom also says things are going to stay that way. That may well be, but the contrarian in me says we could see a new round of growth, starting as early as 2014.

 

The drivers this time? Resilience and reliability, for one. Innovative services and business models for another. Here's some evidence:

 

  • The uproar over grid reliability in the Northeast U.S. after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy
  • President Obama's call for a modernized grid
  • The growing number of grid security collaboratives like the one organizing the November preparedness drill in the U.S.
  • The growing number of groups like the one described below who are agitating for a grid that can support advanced energy services. And for new business and regulatory models to support them

 

Yes, the smart grid is only growing at about 10% these days – terrific for most industries but lackluster after the 25% year-over-year we had in the go-go days. And perhaps we'll stay at that level for years. But I believe it's equally likely we'll see an upsurge. If I'm right, it will be because we have a much wider base of support as more and more people realize that future prosperity can only be built on top of a fully modern grid. - By Jesse Berst

 

AEE and MIT-IPC hold executive forum to forge path toward a 21st century electricity system

 

ASPEN, CO – Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Industrial Performance Center (MIT-IPC) recently held the third in a series of forums around the country to bring together leaders of electric utilities, advanced energy businesses, and regulatory agencies to discuss how new technologies and services can be adopted more rapidly in the electric power sector.

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This series of closed-door, invitation-only events will culminate in an action plan for achieving tangible results toward four goals that have emerged from the discussions:

 

1. Develop innovative business and regulatory models that enable risk sharing between load serving entities and providers of new technologies and services;

2. Focus on innovation in retail services to meet differentiated customer needs;

3. Enable the movement of low-cost capital to where it is most needed;

4. Develop a shared strategic vision that enables load-serving entities, other market participants, and regulators to work towards solutions to well-defined challenges.

 

The purpose of the initial forums, held at MIT in Cambridge, MA, and at CPS Energy in San Antonio, TX, was to convene key stakeholders from utility companies, advanced energy companies and regulatory agencies to identify new business models and regulatory frameworks that can help accelerate advanced energy growth within the power sector. At today’s forum in Aspen, participants began to refine business models and regulatory frameworks, and identify states and utility companies that could pilot test some of the concepts developed. A fourth forum, to carry this process further, is being planned for November in New York City.

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