Which path leads to the smart grid?
A fierce debate has erupted in the utility policy community, with battle lines drawn within FERC itself. In the effort to improve system efficiency, two competing alternatives stand out: to build the smart grid on large-scale demand response (DR) programs, or to build it around consumer behavior in retail markets.
The entire utility-consumer relationship must be reengineered.
The business case for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) can’t be justified alone on operational savings to the utility. But critical assumptions involving process improvements and system efficiencies depend on customer involvement. This sequel to a September 2009 article examines customer engagement strategies and techniques.
Customer-specific demand-response strategies become more sophisticated.
Demand-response technologies are quickly becoming more sophisticated, and markets are treating demand as a resource. But realizing the true potential of DR requires utilities to apply today’s technology solutions and program structures—and to base their strategies on actual customer behavior and preferences—rather than yesterday’s outdated assumptions about centralized load control.
DR design flaws create perverse incentives.
Demand response isn’t energy: It’s a separate product, traded in a separate market. Policy trends, however, are moving toward equal treatment for demand and supply resources in electricity markets. Does treating DR as energy inflate its value and create perverse incentives?
Smart meters open the door to advance billing.
Investor-owned utility executives have long understood the benefits of prepaid metering, but technical and regulatory roadblocks have prevented wide-scale implementation. Now, however, two IOUs—Arizona Public Service and DTE—are planning prepaid metering programs that could be offered to all customers. Smart metering technology might pave the way for prepaid to become a standard service.
Forecasting brings wind energy under control.
Advancements in forecasting have improved the reliability of day-ahead and hour-ahead estimates of wind generation. Wind never will behave like a base-load power plant. But as system operators integrate wind forecasts into their planning and market processes, they’re transforming intermittent wind energy into a variable but reliable resource.
T&D and Smart Grid
The ZigBee Alliance and the Wi-Fi Alliance entered an agreement to collaborate on wireless home area networks (HAN) for smart-grid applications. The initial focus of the collaboration will be ZigBeeSmart Energy Profile 2.0, which is the next-generation energy management protocol for smart grid-enabled homes based on today’s successful ZigBeeSmart Energy Profile. The ZigBeeSmart Energy Profile 2.0 is expected to be extended to operate over Wi-Fi technology as a result of the collaboration.
FEI Company, a diversified scientific instruments company providing electron and ion-beam microscopes and tools for nanoscale applications, completed a multiple system installation at the Materials Ageing Institute (MAI) in France, a utility-oriented research center financed by Electricite de France, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Kansai Electric Power Co. and the U.S. Electric Power Research Institute.
Has demand response hit an evolutionary dead end?
On March 18, the day after this issue went to press, FERC was scheduled at its decisional meeting to open a new formal inquiry on the role of demand response in regions that already have competitive wholesale power markets. In particular, how much money should grid operators pay to electric customers who promise not to buy wholesale power?
Siemens Energy has been awarded an 18-month, $300,000 R&D program by the Illinois Clean Coal Institute to study the effects of coal and coal-derived syngas combustion on the behavior of material and coating degradation in utility boiler and gas turbine environments. Focus areas of the research program will explore materials degradation modes in integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) systems and utility boilers.