Big Brother, Hackers and the Smart Grid
Smart grid, AMI and interval data has caused, according to Tim Wolf, Itron’s director of marketing for smart grid, a “data explosion.” That has aroused concerns and controversy over data security and data privacy. Yet the industry is already employing best practices and strategies—not just those dictated by industry regulators and standards boards, but also those developed and enforced by governing bodies in other industries, including banking and finance. And it’s in the best interest of utilities to continually update their security and privacy policies. “Data is the new financial asset of the utility,” said Scott Palmquist of Itron.

Paving the “Green Highway” with SDG&E
San Diego Gas and Electric is, in their words, paving a “green highway” with smart grid demonstration projects focused on EV charging. Early results show that time-of-use (TOU) rates and demand response programs are effective means for managing peak load. The utility sees these efforts as critical to the future success of EV proliferation in California by “ensuring the safe, reliable and efficient integration of EV loads with the grid.” The key to program success? SDG&E says that customers must have continuous education and communication related to pricing and bill savings.

The Microgrid Dilemma: To Be or Not to Be?
Microgrids are hot topics in the industry, but what are they, what challenges do they represent and how can they help the energy future? Itron’s George Simons and GE’s Sumit Bose led the discussion, focusing on the dilemma utilities face in deciding whether to enter the microgrid realm and how, or leave it to thrird-party providers, albeit with its own list of integration challenges.

The Itron-GE team defined microgrids as having the following five characteristics:

  • Combination of conventional and/or renewable on/off the grid energy sources
  • Energy storage system to compensate for renewable intermittency
  • Communication networking of all microgrid elements including load clusters
  • Integration with protection controls to ensure reliable operation
  • A smart control system to optimize and manage generators, energy storage and loads within the microgrid
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