New Year ushers in smart grid technology twists


With the New Year upon us, utilities will usher in the same smart grid challenges they have faced in the past but with a different technilogical twist.

Utilities face two major smart grid concerns: Making the business case for the next round of investments and tackling the challenges that arise from those large-scale infrastructure investments.

Utilities will grapple with emerging technology such as advanced distribution management systems, outage management systems, customer systems, and enterprise level software, architecture, and communications. Further complicating matters are cloud-delivered applications (analytics, billing, mobile workforce management, load balancing and forecasting, customer management, etc.) that are expected to grow rapidly in 2013. Third-party delivered services such as smart-grid-as-a-service, energy-management-as-a-service, and distributed-generation-as-a-service are other applications that could potentially cause utilities challenges.

Utilities can combat these challenges, in part, through rigorous strategic planning and advanced simulation analysis, enabling utilities to identify potential integration issues before actually beginning the implementation process. Implementation challenges can also be addressed by anticipating and budgeting for delays when developing smart grid plans.

The many great examples of smart grid projects that are unique or that have shown significant progress -- eEnergy Vermont, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's Smart Grid Demonstration Project, and ConEdison's distribution automation deployment, to name a few --  are proof that these challenges can be managed and/or overcome.

 -- Barb