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Tennessee works to implement smart grid, utilities hope to spread connectivity

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nashville Electric Service, one of the 10 largest electric utilities in Tennessee, is making great strides in implementing a smart grid network that will support its demand response needs, and will be designed to allow future smart grid developments to be easily integrated.

According to Fierce Smart Grid, the utility will be using RF technology to stay in constant communication with smart-grid related devices and equipment used in substations for distribution automation.

The Energy Collective reports that the system being introduced by Nashville Electric Service will not only deliver heightened energy security and grid reliability, but will also help to spread the influence of the "internet of things," a conceptual design of connecting any object with an IP address to some intelligent system on a communications network. The technology of embedded intelligence could be used in localization, identification, sensing, security, processing and control.

The internet of things is expected to benefit utilities, which are quickly investing in such communications technologies and services in order to expand their smart grid implementation efforts. Smart grid investments are expected to double over the next five years, with telecom companies contributing 28 percent of all investments.

One of the most significant features of the smart grid, the news source states, is the use of IEDs, or intelligent electronic devices. IEDs allow utilities to use remote sensing and control of substation equipment and processes at what has been until now strictly on a machine-to-machine level.

As IEDs spread, utilities will be offered new opportunities to embed communications and intelligence into distribution network equipment. This monitoring can help utilities manage their networks, increasing reliability at low costs.

By entering into the new smart grid network, Nashville Electric Service will be able to meet demand response requirements set by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and will have better distribution automation capabilities.

However, for utilities to fully utilize automation and emerging IED technologies, proper software and guidance should accompany smart grid integration.

SUBNET offers software based on interoperability that is compatible with all existing IEDs, and can provide guidance on how the newest technologies can support substation automation and remote access.

As the propagation of connectivity and remote access has also led to a rise in security concerns, the solutions provider helps utilities to meet requirements set by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation's critical infrastructure protection standards, ensuring compliance and a safe network environment.  

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