Insights from our Editorial Team
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.
Substation automation, fiber and sensors come before AMI
The Snohomish County Public Utility District chose to begin its smart grid journey by tackling substation automation, a fiber network and distribution line sensors. Our columnist describes SNOPUD's work and speaks with its CIO.
University of California San Diego takes microgrids to the world
The second installment of a conversation with Byron Washom, director of strategic energy initiatives at the University of California San Diego, reveals operational details of UCSD's mircrogrid and how that microgrid fits with its local utility and independent system operator. If you're interested in the future of electric utilities, read this column.
Preparing for one million cars by 2015?
In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama called for putting one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. A report earlier this year from the Department of Energy, "One Million Electric Vehicles by 2015," claimed that although the goal is ambitious, key steps already taken and further steps proposed indicate the goal is achievable. In this article Christopher Perdue examines what utilities can do to prepare for a proliferation of electric vehicles.