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Utilities discuss their needs and wants from the smart grid

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, August 15, 2012

At the SoftGrid 2012 conference, four major utilities discussed the biggest challenges they have faced in integrating big data analytics into their power networks, GreenTech Media reports.

According to the news source, all four utilities have performed impressive smart grid deployments that include innovative intelligent electronic devices, substation automation and demand response programs. But despite these technologies - which are said to revolutionize how utilities operate - many say they are still struggling to put all the pieces together, and how to use the huge amounts of data to better their services.

The conference, which recently took place in San Francisco, played host to executives from San Diego Gas and Electric, Seattle City Light, Arizona Public Service and Tennessee's EPB. Each utility leader gave presentations on how they have handled the issues that arose during their smart grid installations, how they plan to allay any problems they foresee in the future and what they expect smart grid advancements to give back to them.

While each executive told unique tales of smart meter deployments and distribution automation installation, a common theme did appear, the media outlet stated. Most notably, the integration of intermittent renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, was said to be a major focus for all utilities. Another highlight recurrent in all presentations was the need for highly trained utility technicians and engineers who can handle the complex systems.

According to the news source, Tony Tewelis, director of technology innovation at APS, stated that the utility has been doing what it can to use IEDs to determine which transformers are over-stressed and may need to be repaired or replaced. The company is also collecting data from devices that monitor feeder lines that deliver solar power, to ensure a constant flow of electricity.

David Wade, COO and executive vice president at Chattanooga utility EPB, said it recently installed a fiber optic network that will enable it to connect distribution automation systems, which have been instrumental in keeping the power on during a series of recent storms.

The smart grid is increasingly becoming the complex and sprawling power network it was forecast to be, but utilities are using innovative new technologies, such as SUBNET's software and products, to easily integrate smart grid infrastructure. SUBNET products help utilities gather information from a wide range of IEDs, which utilities can then use to enhance overall operating efficiency.

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