This afternoon we attended an Itron Utility Week breakout session with Tracy Tinsley, project manager, information management, at Duke Energy. Tinsley discussed how Duke Energy continues to make progress with its implementation of smart grid technology while making the business case to justify the long term investment to regulators and consumers.

During the session, Tinsley highlighted the various elements of a successful smart grid business case, including knowing your target audiences, having a clear strategy and demonstrating the value of the solution.

The typical audiences for a smart grid business case include customers, regulators, utility executives and business operations. Tinsley iterated the importance of understanding these audiences and being able to recognize and tailor the business case to their perspectives and needs. It is also important to have a separate communication strategy to reach each target audience.

Next, a successful business case has a clear, overarching strategy and roadmap to ensure all parties are aligned and unified with the direction the company is going. This will allow collaboration and synergies across multiple business units.

In addition, it is critical to demonstrate the value of the deployment in a business case. Tinsley discussed three pillars that are core to most business cases: expense reduction, operational efficiencies and increased revenue. Lastly, data is critical to business cases. It is important to show what data is available and how it can be analyzed.

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