Utilities prepare for a bumpy road.
Ed May and Stephen Johnson
Electric vehicles promise major benefits for utilities, including increased electricity sales and accelerated transformation of passive energy consumers into collaborative stakeholders. But EV integration faces major challenges, from transformer overloading to the complexity of managing mobile transactions. Addressing these challenges in a collaborative way will allow the industry—and the country—to realize the benefits of a healthy market for electric transportation services.
The smart grid and the slippery business of setting industry standards.
Four years ago, Congress made its wishes known: it tabbed the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop a set of standards for the smart grid, and then instructed FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission “adopt” those standards, but only after finding a ”sufficient consensus,” and only “as may be necessary” to assure “functionality and interoperability.” Yet what is known is not necessarily clear. Who decides if consensus prevails? What does “interoperability” mean? Should FERC’s “necessary” finding extend to retail smart grid applications, arguably outside its purview? And the biggest dispute — must standards be mandatory? — finds PJM at odds with much of the utility industry.
Integrating distributed resources into the smart grid.
The remedy for America’s gravest economic woes may lie in a smart grid that can deliver vast amounts of clean, renewable energy while enhancing our energy security and democratizing our energy system. Although regulatory questions and technical challenges might dominate the industry’s short-term focus, the smart grid’s driving forces parallel America’s long-term national interests — a fact that should guide ongoing technology strategies and investment decisions.
Past accomplishments and future plans.
Policy makers in the E.U. and the United States are taking different approaches to facilitating smart grid development. While both regions are setting standards that the rest of the world likely will follow, they also face difficult challenges in resolving issues around cost recovery, customer engagement and workforce preparedness.
Building a business case around smart grid data.
Much has been said about the smart grid’s potential for transforming the utility business. But while the industry has focused on technology, process and organization, another factor—data—likely will prove to be a key transformational driver. Benefits for utilities and their customers depend on how effectively companies make use of a torrent of new and powerful data.
Similar desires, different approaches.
Smart grid is a global phenomenon, but different countries are taking different approaches—for different reasons. For instance, utilities in Europe are more focused on laying the foundation for distributed generation and microgrids, while the United States is more concerned about creating standards for interoperability and security. Understanding the differences can help decision makers deploy smart grid technology effectively and economically.
Technology creates new opportunities for demand- side management
By Kristin Brief and Brad Davids
Customer value is a key factor in any smart grid business case. But not all customers are created equal. In particular, commercial and industrial (C&I) customers have greatly different needs, considerations and sensitivities, compared to residential customers. As a result, demand response and efficiency programs won’t produce the same results across customer classes. Getting the most from the C&I market will depend on integrating smart grid with smart building technologies.
Hype, hysteria, and strategic planning.
The industry is learning some painful lessons about public communication. Hype has given way to hysteria over smart grid rollouts, and forced many companies to re-think their strategies. Capturing the benefits of new technology requires a straightforward approach to selling the benefits — and facing the costs.
Lockheed Martin teams with Tendril; Pattern Energy 101 MW wind plant starts operating; Alstom to supply steam equipment to GWF plant; Siemens wins government efficiency contract; GE Jenbacher introduces high-efficiency gas engine; OpenADR Alliance forms; Better Place gets into San Francisco taxis; EnerNOC enters TransAmerica Pyramid; and more.
Understanding consumer preferences in energy efficiency.
Utilities are just beginning to learn how to engage customers. Across business models and regulatory frameworks, realizing the full potential of smart metering requires a new core competence in consumer support.