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Utility workers, residents learn more about smart grid devices

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Thursday, December 15, 2011

As smart grid legislation promotes greater use of the new grid across the country, residents and utility workers are having to learn about the new components, which promise greater efficiency on both ends of the power distribution spectrum.

According to the Coloradoan, Fort Collins has been pushing for smart grid deployment for years, and now as the system grows and installations are made, workers are finding there is a significant learning curve for constructing the new components.

"We are just beginning to install our smart-grid infrastructure, and a lot of that technology is new to us," Fort Collins Light and Power line man Travis Walker said. "This new technology is fairly foreign to everybody so far."

However, workers will soon be able to learn more about the new grid by taking classes offered by Front Range Community College. The courses were developed through a partnership between Colorado State University, the University of Colorado, Excel Energy, Schneider Electric and several cities on the Front Range, the media outlet stated.

The classes will focus on automation aspects of the new grid.

"What's happening in the power industry, the workforce is aging and there are predictions of 30 to 60 percent of the workforce retiring in the next few years," said course designer Conwell Dickey, a retired Hewlett Packard electrical engineer. "There are a lot of concerns we need to be modernizing the power grid and we need to be training people to work on it."

For more advanced expertise on smart grid deployment, many utilities are turning to SUBNET Solutions, Inc. The solutions provider has worked with the top utilities in North America to install new smart grid technologies, such as substation automation devices and remote access capabilities, all while complying with the stringent cyber security standards that have been established by NERC CIP requirements.

In Illinois, where the state government recently voted in favor of a massive new smart grid overhaul plan, residents of Naperville are expected to attend one of 14 open houses held to educate residents about the upcoming smart grid installations, the Chicago Tribune  reports.

City officials say it is important for residents and workers to know how the new system will work, as it will be a more efficient and cost-effective way for the city to run its electric network.

The project will cost $22 million, with 50 percent provided by a federal grant. 

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