Community microgrids raise questions about the role of the utility franchise, versus the free market.
Smart Grid, Smart Utility
The intelligent-grid vision is becoming clearer as utilities take incremental steps toward a brighter future.
whole—in terms of peak-load management and grid efficiencies. In Texas they were spurred forward by legislation endorsing BPL technology. In Minnesota they are being inspired by the need to get the most from renewable power sources.
Irrespective of such differences, the strategic objectives of the intelligent grid remain consistent in virtually every case—to enable significant improvements in reliability, efficiency and customer service. The specific character and importance of each objective will vary, but the overall intelligent-grid strategy will gain momentum as stakeholders recognize its powerful drivers and benefits.
The natural champions for this strategy are utilities themselves—many of which have heretofore approached the intelligent grid with reluctance, if they have approached it at all. However, capturing the smart grid’s benefits for ratepayers and shareholders will require utilities to adopt grid intelligence as a strategic priority.
“In the broadest terms, it is our job to try to educate consumers, regulators and elected officials about what the intelligent grid can do,” Lamb says. “We are the experts, and we should be shaping the process and the vision of the intelligent grid.”