It’s day two of the Knowledge Conference at one of the year’s most anticipated events – Itron Utility Week.

Utility industry observers have been talking about the perfect storm brewing. It’s a coming together of aging infrastructure, distributed energy resources, changing customer relationships, and a call for increasing amounts of renewable energy. It also includes the rapidly evolving regulatory landscape of NERC, FERC, EPA, and state commissions.

Aging infrastructure: The utility industry remains the largest user of obsolete analog and TDM communications that service providers are discontinuing.

Distributed resources: Utility end-customers continue to count on the industry for safety and reliability. These expectations hold even as some seek to drastically reduce their electric bill and carbon footprint by installing solar panels.

Changing relationships: Customers want flexibility to interact with utilities via mobile and social.

Regulatory landscape: Utilities need to collaborate across their organizations, supply chain, and grid control authorities – and with their regulators and communities.

Cisco and Itron see a silver lining.

Multiple efforts are bringing together utilities, legislators, regulators, renewable energy companies, and other stakeholders to build a vision for the future of the grid. This future offers new opportunities, new business models, and a new regulatory framework. It flexibly addresses overlapping and sometimes conflicting goals and jurisdictions.

Examples of such efforts include:

  • New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision
  • Massachusetts’ Grid Modernization
  • The Gridwise Alliance Future of the Grid.

Itron and Cisco support these efforts through membership in the Gridwise Alliance.

In addition, Cisco and Itron are bringing new capabilities to the industry that provide the means to meet these new challenges.

All of the possible futures of the industry require secure, high performance, manageable communication. This is the core of Cisco’s portfolio.

All possible futures also call for sensors at the edge of the grid. Sensors provide utility end-customers with details of their energy interchange (since they can both consume and produce). They provide details on power quality, and near real time outage alerts. These sensors are the core of Itron’s portfolio.

Cisco and Itron together are the utility industry’s engine for resourceful innovation.

 

 

   By Rick Geiger, Executive Director, Cisco

To read more Cisco blogs by Rick Geiger, click here.