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Engineers must understand changes smart grid will bring

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On a very basic level, the smart grid is all about getting more information from more sources. This data will come from energy users, generating facilities, intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) and many more smart grid technologies, which will help utilities design a more reliable grid.

According to Consulting Specifying Engineer Magazine, it is crucial for utility engineers to understand the developments that are taking place across their systems in order to fully benefit from the modernized grid.

The relationship between utilities and vendors will become increasingly important, as both parties will need to have a firm grasp of how the changes will affect the power network. With so much data being collected across the electrical distribution system, a facility operator will need to know how to leverage that information to keep its operating costs low, among other reasons. The requirements demanded of utilities and the decisions they will need to make will steal time from an operator's day and money from its budget if all of the changes are not understood, the media outlet stated.

By fully understanding how to use smart grid technologies, utilities have the opportunity to digitally locate exactly where an outage is sourced from, and how widespread the damage is, resulting in shorter downtime and repair work. Currently, reports of outages typically come from phone calls, emails or even manual search teams. With the smart grid, however, utilities can better manage the network by identifying an outage or interruption. IEDs allow utilities to remotely access substations to collect data, rather than sending out teams to assess damage.

Many of the improvements that have been installed onto the grid can be traced back to the development of standards for nationwide implementation. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), more than 1,000 phasor measurement units have been installed throughout the grid.

Other standards are being developed to account for everything from architecture to cyber security, which have been said to be the most pressing issues for smart grid implementation.

To help engineers and utility operators learn more about smart grid implementation, SUBNET has developed training programs that provide the expertise needed to manage and administer substation assets.

SUBNET's One Architecture Boot Camp helps utility experts understanding how to create a substation architecture that reduces configuration time to hours from days, lower the chance for errors, and simplify the process, reducing the need to rely on the software's "expert users."

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