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PG&E says smart grid plans will greatly benefit U.S. utilities

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In the last month, Pacific Gas and Electric has announced a slew of new procedures associated with the smart grid roll out that will ultimately benefit it and other companies.

The utilities' focus on the project highlights how substation automation and management has emerged as one of the most important aspects for utility smart grid projects around the country, GreenTech Grid reports.

However, PG&E is by no means the first utility to implement smart meters, power line senors, remote access to grid switches, communications and software in this way. Expenditures on smart distribution grid systems - the grid that lies between substations and consumers - are expected to outstrip smart meter spending in the near future, with an expected increase from $2.2 billion in 2010 to $5.6 billion in 2015, according to GTM Research.

But with PG&E's role as a leader in the smart grid movement, its recent announcements have had a resounding effect on utilities across the country.

The utility's Cornerstone Improvement Program, a $360 million project expected to install intelligence into 400 of its grid circuits in the next few years, is an important example of how the new grid will benefit U.S. power managers. According to the news source, about half of that money will go to the company's fault location, isolation and service restoration (FLISR) program, making it one of the largest FLISR deployments in the U.S.

The Cornerstone project also includes improving efficiency in un-networked and un-sensored feeder lines, transformers, switches and capacitor banks. To do so, the company is looking into software based on "decision analysis" that can help bring together smart switches, meters and line sensors.

"That would help us direct that field inspector on how to look for that problem - more and more narrowing the location, and doing it as automatically as possible," said Kevin Dasso, senior director of transmission and distribution engineering at PG&E.

According to EcoSeed, shortly before Thanksgiving PG&E asked the California Public Utilities Commission for permission to build six new smart grid projects that will benefit both utilities and their customers, all of which are under the Cornerstone umbrella.

With more utilities turning to software and expert oversight in substation automation, remote access and other smart grid features, SUBNET Solutions Inc. has the resources and experience to offer companies smooth and efficient smart grid deployment.  

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