Insights from our Editorial Team
AMI not necessary for outage management
The story of Snohomish County Public Utility District's path to smart grid technology implementation continues here, with a discussion with Chris Heimgartner, SNOPUD's assistant general manager, distribution and engineering services. Sometimes, AMI isn't the first-response answer, or the best answer, for a particular utility's customer needs.
PG&E, SCE and SDG&E band together to meet state mandates
California's three large investor-owned utilities have joined together to propose a five-year partnership with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to tackle the biggest challenges presented by the state's regulators, and recover the program's $150 million costs from ratepayers.
Central Vermont Public Service tackles AMI, automation, dynamic pricing
A small utility pursuing big goals finds that formal processes for external outreach and transparency coupled with internal change management can help employees succeed with their "day job" as well as a raft of smart grid-related projects. To learn what Central Vermont Public Service is doing to pull off this feat, read this column.
City wants own utility, Xcel says city will pay dearly
The "smarts" in smart grid will spread beyond the utility and, in the case of Boulder, Colo., the city is considering breaking away from Xcel Energy and forming its own muncipal utility. Can Boulder afford to go it alone and move faster on renewable energy than Xcel's ambitious schedule?
McKinsey report touts benefits
Energy Central's Christopher Perdue examines the importance of data management and analytics, especially given the proliferation of data that often results from utility smart grid investments.
IEE report agrees that utility benefits first
A report on smart meter value by the Institute for Electric Efficiency largely agrees that utilities benefit first from smart meters and smart grids, though benefits for consumers will come with time.
Utility drivers need translation to consumers
The logic of consumer benefits from the smart grid or smart meters flows from the benefits these technologies offer first to the utility. So how to articulate and communicate smart grid benefits to consumers is primarily based on the diffuse notion of more efficient, less-polluting utility operations. When utilities institute dynamic pricing and introduce pain points, consumers will see the benefit of energy use feedback and strategies for avoiding spiking bills. No wonder communicating with consumers is much-discussed.
Electric utilities explore the hybrid route
"One size fits all" is definitely not the case when it comes to utility communications planning. From broadband over power line and microwave to WiFi, WiMAX or cellular, many electric utilities are using a hybrid approach to smart grid communications networks. Three utility executives discuss their plans here.
'Distributed smarts' mean self-sufficiency, microgrids, municipalization
Our columnist identifies several trends that take "smart grid" ideas outside of central utility control and discusses how that will change the utility industry in unpredictable ways.
Costs and benefits weighed by leading utilities
Do the benefits of smart grid deployments outweigh the challenges? Our columnist looks at three utilities across the country and finds that their priorities, locations and external drivers lead to an affirmative answer. At least the utilities in question, including San Diego Gas & Electric, CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy, all say that rigorous business cases support their moves to modernize the grid and connect with customers.