Insights from our Editorial Team
Austin Energy's Karl Popham discusses utility smart grid essentials
Just before Christmas, I sat down by telephone with Karl Popham, Austin Energy's chief information officer, to talk about the utility's approach to implementing smart grid technologies. Austin Energy is the nation's ninth largest community-owned electric utility, and has branched out throughout its 440-square-mile territory over the years with a number of projects designed to build the utility's energy efficiency and intelligence.
Online forum cites health concerns, consumer benefits and cost recovery
Questions about possible health impacts from radio frequency radiation and electromagnetic fields associated with smart meters have been authoritatively settled. And it's a given that engagement with consumers about smart meters and grids is critical. More pertinent questions remain: Should consumers pay for smart meters if the resulting efficiencies lower utilities' operating expenses? Does lag time between smart meter rollouts and tangible consumer benefits hurt utilities' credibility with their customers?
The arc of a year tracking intelligent utilities
Intelligent Utility Daily columnist Phil Carson dismisses the notion of smart grid as fad and looks back at a pivotal year of coverage, from smart meters to SmartGridCity.
On hot topics, responses run hot and cold
Astute readers commented this past week on electric vehicles, smart meters in California and prepayment programs, taking the conversation on these topics to a new level. Here are readers' insights into leading smart grid topics.
California's record rainfall underscores need for distribution automation
This week's record California rainfall caused mudslides, minor flooding and road closures at the beginning of the week, as well as power outages due to downed poles and downed lines. And Mother Nature isn't finished with the Golden State quite yet, with even more severe weather due to hit last night and this morning. In speaking yesterday with Kevin Dasso, PG&E's senior director of smart grid and technology integration, about the company's intelligent utility efforts, I asked him about how one particular project, PG&E's Cornerstone Improvement Program, would in the future assist in severe weather situations such as the one the company is facing this week.
UTC says that access to spectrum is perhaps biggest issue
A Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) report explores the challenges and opportunities presented by upgrading communications networks on the grid, as intelligence is added. Every utility must find the right mix for itself, based on legacy systems, service territory characteristics and business models, to name a few factors.
Utilities and consumers, however, see 'prepay' differently
A new survey reflects high interest in prepayment programs, with utility benefits that include improved collections and cash flow. Utility respondents to the survey project consumer interest, but a companion survey with actual consumers is due in January. The survey sponsor suggests that a 10 percent sign-up rate across the country would create a $15 billion (annual) industry.
A new year begins with a new approach
The year 2011 will bring with it many new challenges with ties back to 2009 and 2010, but the era of the intelligent utility is clearly evolving, being fuelled by information gleaned both from past successes and past mistakes.
All would agree, prognosticators and historians alike, that there's a lot of change coming down the pike in the coming year. Some of it is in response to consumer/regulator pushback on the consumer-engagement/consumer-cost front, and some is directly related to new technology being added on the end of the line (electric vehicles and distributed solar generation) to a one-way distribution grid not yet ready, in many cases, to take the increased push and pull of electricity involved in these new applications. Here are our Top 11 projections for 2011.
Preparations for electric vehicles underscore shift in traditional utility model
San Diego Gas & Electric is one of several Southern California utilities preparing for the country's swiftest adoption rates for electric vehicles. As it presents EV-related rates and policies, it is also pondering future roles as its business model morphs under the influence of smart grid.
eVgo brand aims at 'range confidence' in Texas Triangle
NRG EV Services has targeted the so-called Texas Triangle "megaregion" for eVgo-branded public EV charging infrastructure, beginning its rollout in the Houston metro area. It's an innovative business approach, recognizes Texans' interest in being on the forefront of clean tech and makes sense on paper. Will it fly? We spoke to NRG EV Service's president.