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ComEd begins upgrades, says smart grid improvements coming soon

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Monday, January 09, 2012

Illinois utility ComEd began the new year with an announcement that it had replaced 2,200 feet of underground cable as part of an infrastructure upgrade that seeks to keep the frequency and duration of outages low in the Oswego area, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

According to the news source, ComEd expects to begin more work across northern Illinois in early 2012 as a part of the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, a landmark piece of legislature that was recently approved by the state General Assembly.

The grid modernization program will see the utility invest about $1.3 billion in the existing grid to strengthen current structures by replacing thousands of miles of cable and other infrastructure, and outfitting substations and other equipment with new devices.

ComEd says it will spend another $1.3 billion on digital devices that will allow the utility to perform distribution and substation automation functions that will automatically reroute power around problematic areas.

The program will also see many other smart grid technologies utilized, including a higher amount of smart meter installations in homes, which could also reduce outages and increase efficiency for utilities.

Smart meters, one facet of the rapidly growing smart grid market, saw major growth throughout 2011, with an exceptional number of shipments reported in the third quarter.

According to InfroGrok Energy, global smart meter shipments hit 19.2 million in Q3 2011, a 5.3 percent increase from the second quarter of the year. The bulk of the shipments were in North America, where great strides have been taken in advancing smart grid technologies, while China also reported major increases in smart meter use.

"Global smart grid deployments continue to enjoy strong growth momentum, particularly those involving smart meter rollouts," said Pike Research senior analyst Neil Strother. "Projects continue to expand in the United States and Canada, and we are seeing the beginning stages of a massive smart meter deployment in China."

As North America continues to lead the smart grid rollout, many utilities are turning to SUBNET Solutions Inc. to install substation automation devices on existing hardware and incorporate remote access capabilities into current systems.

In the U.S., nine of the top 10 utilities now use SUBNET's comprehensive secure substation gateway and IED management solution to manage devices used in substations, indicating the success of the solution provider's platform. 

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