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Smart grid deployment plans differ slightly among utilities

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Tuesday, February 21, 2012

There is a good chance 2012 will be the first year in which global smart grid investments near $10 billion, and the subtle nuances of each utilities' deployment will likely lead to issues with the vast amount of systems going online, Renew Grid reports.

According to the news source, while the term "smart grid" may be new, the development of several systems, subsystems, equipment and devices to better monitor, measure, control and secure the electric grid has been ongoing for the past half-century. As each generation of electrical equipment becomes more intelligent than the last, utilities and industrial companies have left smaller footprints.

But the newest aspect of the smart grid is the attempt to mitigate the problems that have arisen as utilities attempt to integrate various disparate operational and engineering activities. In doing so, utilities can provide a more intelligent and visual approach to data management and telecom operations, and also have greater physical and cyber security measures in place - both of which are the foundation for a truly intelligent grid, according to the news source.

SUBNET has developed solutions and software that address the issue of integrating intelligent electronic devices, and works with utilities to ensure NERC CIP security requirements.

While many see the smart grid as a single large endeavor that takes one massive deployment, really, the news source states, the smart grid is the combined technologies that, if integrated carefully, will allow utility management to more easily and accurately inform its staff by providing better visualization of real-time activities.

As more utilities understand the benefits of the smart grid and become aware of the best ways to integrate their systems, more deployments will likely arise. In Vermont, the Central Vermont Public Services’ (CVPS') smart grid plan has made impressive strides through collaboration, new policies and public outreach.

CVPS, the largest investor-owned utility in Vermont, is beginning the year-long process of installing smart meters for its customers in February. A recent case study shows the project has moved along steadily due to the collaboration between utilities, Vermont's legislative action and consumer outreach.

"These results provide interesting lessons for the rest of the country," said Kevin Jones, smart grid project leader for Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment. "As this case study demonstrates, smart grid implementation is off to a productive start. Ongoing policy refinements, project development and infrastructure investment will be needed in order to achieve the smart grid’s full, long-term potential."


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