When Congress repealed the Holding Company Act, it gave states greater authority to regulate utilities. New Jersey picked up the baton and enacted rules to protect ratepayers.
Fostering Smart Grid Evolution
A deliberate approach to infrastructure advancement.
The grid’s intelligence has been developing since the beginning of the electric power industry. And most customers expect to continue benefitting from an ever-smarter grid that will readily support future demands for electrical energy—wherever, whenever, and however it’s needed. That’s probably a reasonable expectation, so long as utility leaders understand how their decisions and actions can help or hinder the next critical stages of smart grid development.
The whole utility enterprise will need to become more flexible, capable, and responsive to new challenges and opportunities. So, what are the options? How can a utility take deliberate steps that promote timely and efficient advancement of the full smart grid value proposition? What are the likely outcomes and consequences when an electric utility develops its infrastructure, information, and processes in a fragmented and incidental fashion?
As with any institution or business of notable size, the utility enterprise is an elaborate conglomerate of people, technologies, information, resources, practices and services. This conglomerate is a living and thinking system of systems that is always changing in response to a wide range of external and internal conditions that reflect the past, present, and anticipated future of the utility’s environment. Day by day, month by month, and year by year, the utility works to survive and prosper amidst a complicated mixture of objectives, perspectives, needs, mandates, capabilities, and constraints.
At any given time, a utility’s employees and technologies have their respective capabilities and limitations that are, within allowable cost, combined and applied to support the business. Over time, the scope, complexity, and distribution of information and functions tend to grow and shift from people to technologies that can transform the enterprise.
No matter what, one way or another, the utility evolves. However, that evolution doesn’t assure survival, much less prosperity. In fact, the course of evolution can just as easily cause transformation for the better, or for the worse. The way a utility evolves will ultimately determine the outcomes.
Beginning with rocks and sticks, technologies have been a key driver and extension of social development and civilization. Today, the global society is enveloped by an expanding cloud of energy-hungry technologies, many of them electrically powered. That energy is provided by a huge and complicated energy ecosystem in which people and their electric infrastructure are coupled ever more tightly and evolving ever more symbiotically.
Similarly, the global society is rapidly developing—and developing from—an enormous information ecosystem that’s becoming ever more embedded in virtually every part of the world. Evolving information technologies are driving dramatic transformations in all domains, including the energy domain in general and the electric infrastructure in particular. Now, the inevitable and ongoing melding of the energy and information ecosystems is spawning the many parts of what will hopefully congeal into a truly intelligent and enabling electric infrastructure, the smart grid.
Looking ahead, a combination of developments in technology, demographics, policy, and markets will usher in an era