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Texas, California stand out as smart grid leaders

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Thursday, November 08, 2012

As utilities expand their smart grid deployments to incorporate a host of new technologies and devices, the grid itself is continuing to evolve into a truly intelligent network that can support the most advanced analytics applications, resulting in major improvements in operational efficiency.

While necessary, there is no getting around it - these upgrades are expensive. However, according to Fierce Smartgrid, because of the importance of these projects, many utilities are learning how to eek out the most value from the upgrades by learning how to address future problems and develop solutions that can keep costs down.

Nowhere has this been better demonstrated than in California and Texas, where utilities are sharing information on how they implemented successful smart grid programs.

In Texas, where residents get their power from an independent grid that supports one of the largest energy markets in the country, it is imperative for utilities to keep their operations going as smoothly as possible. CenterPoint Energy, for example, which has installed thousands of intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) across its enterprise to collect data on the health of its infrastructure, outage events and firmware updates, has successfully been able to manage all of this data with new smart grid technologies.

With about 30 terabytes - the equivalent of 2,000 smart phones - of data coming in, the utility saw a huge business opportunity to leverage this information to improve operations. By adopting smart grid software that helped them collect and analyze the data, CenterPoint can now perform research and apply the appropriate analytics faster than ever.

"We knew the smart grid and the intelligent grid would change our business," said William Bell, an AMS an analytics technology director at CenterPoint in an interview with FierceSmartGrid. "If we can get people to change their behavior, we don't have to build power plants."

Across the state, utilities are using such devices and system to keep tabs on outages and personnel working in the field, in turn saving time and money.

"One of the things we are trying to do is make sure that we're always sending the right crew to the right place at the right time," Bell added.

Managing these thousands of IEDs, however, can be challenging. SUBNET's Unified IED Access Control Security was developed to help utility professionals access and manage all of their devices.

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