The Next 10 Years: Getting standards down so we can move on to the good stuff

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Editor's note: This is the sixth installment of our The Next 10 Years series where industry insiders offer insights on smart grid issues and trends they expect to see in the coming decade. (The previous segments are linked at the end of today's story.) As always, we welcome your comments; please use the Talk Back form at the bottom of the page.

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By Liz Enbysk

SGN Managing Editor

 

Echelon CEO Ron Sege laments that there are so many standards-setting bodies in the smart grid industry that effectively, we have no standards.

 

"If only," Sege says, "the smart grid industry could replicate how the Internet standards evolved." With the Internet, he says, 90% of the standards were handled by four entities.

 

Does Sege sound impatient? Maybe he is. He'd like to migrate from working on what he calls fairly pedestrian problems -- like how things plug together and what protocols we use to communicate on the grid – to the interesting problems. And he has a few of those in mind:

·         How do we analyze data coming off grids and turn it into useful information?

·         What kinds of visualization analytics can we apply?

·         How do we incorporate machine-to-machine learning?

·         How do we predict when and where the next outage or transformer overload will occur?

·         How do we squeeze every ounce of efficiency from our utility grids?

 

That said, Sege does expect to see a smaller and clearer set of standards emerge in the next few years.

 

Jason Cigarran, VP of Marketing at Comverge, agrees industry standards will be on the front burner. "In fact," he says, "we expect interoperability and standardization to be major themes over the coming years as utilities look to build systems that can quickly and efficiently help all classes of consumer optimize energy usage."

 

Utilities also want to drive down the total cost of ownership, notes Rodger Smith, SVP and General Manager of Utilities at Oracle. They are looking to integrated technology solutions to do that for them. "Therefore," he says, "open, standards-based IT systems that allow for easy integration and data sharing, and that optimize back office solutions, will be more and more attractive in years to come."

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