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Biggest smart grid trends of 2011

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, January 04, 2012

On December 21, Green Tech Media listed what it believed were the top smart grid trends of 2011.

The keyword for the year, the news source stated, would have to be "integration," as just about all meanings of the word can be applied to different situations in this year's smart grid activity. Whether it's integration of corporate acquisitions or the integration of devices used by utilities and vendors to create one fused system, the word has dominated smart grid language in 2011.

The integration of smart meters has led many utilities to prove that millions of newly deployed devices can do just what they were touted to do.

Pacific Gas & Electric has shown how meters can be used in outage detection, which plays a vital role in justifying the cost of the smart grid roll out by benefiting both utilities and electric consumers. The large scale deployments that have taken place this year have provided a glimpse into how well they work, with most experts saying the replacement of aging devices has been a success.

Smart meter integration was at the forefront of many political debates, including ComEd and Ameren's $3.2 billion smart grid plan in Illinois, which is still being debated in the state.

But perhaps the most important integration seen in smart grid technology is the marriage between managing the smart grid and managing electric markets, according to the media outlet.

Combining the technology for managing power flow with technology for how it's paid for has been critical. Further improvement could mean smart grid technology providers will have new access to utilities and customers alike that pay for power consumption.

For example, Schneider Electric's $268 million purchase of Summit Energy allowed the company access to Summit's clients, which contribute to $20 billion in annual power sales. Those customers are now smart grid customers, while technologies once reserved for utilities are now available to market managers.

In 2011, the IEEE issued its smart grid interoperability guide, which discussed how interoperability will play into the smart grid as more suppliers and technology manufacturers emerge in the industry.

SUBNET, a solutions provider that offers expertise in remote access and substation automation, uses an interoperability philosophy in its software, which drives the company's holistic approach to real-time integration of various intelligent utility systems, a service that has been paramount in smart grid roll outs across the nation. 

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