Radio waves deliver flexibility and security.
William Atkinson is a freelance journalist based in Carterville, Ill.
In recent months, much of the smart-grid buzz has involved a newer technology being introduced into the mix—wireless.
According to Eric Miller, a senior vice president for wireless technology vendor Trilliant, the reason for the new-found popularity of wireless smart grid is that it addresses many of the communications challenges utilities face related to geography, bandwidth, performance, and upgradability. In addition, wireless technology already is available. “There’s a tremendous amount of investment globally in wireless communication for other applications that you can leverage and work off,” he says. “You don’t have to pay to invent wireless.”
Wireless in Action
One utility already moving in this direction is Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P). The company is using wireless smart grid technology as part of a pilot program, among the largest customer-focused pilots of its kind in North America to date. This summer, 3,000 CL&P customers are taking part in the utility’s Plan-It Wise Energy program, a voluntary rate program to test residential, commercial, and industrial customers’ interest in, and response to, time-based energy rates and smart meters. Smart meters will measure customers’ electricity usage in one-hour intervals. The system will collect and transmit information about customer electricity usage to the utility, and then back to the customer, via a two-way wireless network.