Smart Grid, a Definition

By February 18, 2009Energy, Technology

A story in today’s D.C. Examiner, “‘Smart grid’ technology may soon hit the suburbs“:

An electricity use monitoring pilot program dubbed “smart grid” may be coming soon to the Maryland suburbs.

Local electric utility Pepco filed a proposal with state regulators last week to put between 2,500 and 3,500 “smart meters” in homes in Bethesda and Fort Washington. The meters record how much and when electricity is used each month and can communicate with Pepco to indicate power outages.

The pilot program would also include sensors on circuits at two substations that have a history of power outages. Pepco said the sensors would allow the utility to identify, isolate and fix the problems more quickly.

Good, but is that all “smart grid” is? Smarter home meters and sensors at substations?

Obviously there’s more. The Department of Energy has a publication, “The Smart Grid: An Introduction.” From page 10:

The electric industry is poised to make the transformation from a centralized, producer-controlled network to one that is less centralized and more consumer-interactive. The move to a smarter grid promises to change the industry’s entire business model and its relationship with all stakeholders, involving and affecting utilities, regulators, energy service providers, technology and automation vendors and all consumers of electric power.

A smarter grid makes this transformation possible by bringing the philosophies, concepts and technologies that enabled the internet to the utility and the electric grid. More importantly, it enables the industry’s best ideas for grid modernization to achieve their full potential.

It takes until page 10 to get to that? And Dr. Smith and the robot from Lost in Space is the illustration?

Clearly, we need some refining of defining. But for now, here’s the Department of Energy’s smart grid section at the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. Eneregy Secretary Chu delivered the keynote address this morning at the DOE-NARUC National Electricity Forum on the smart grid and stimulus bill. (We’ll link later.)

General Electric is prominent in smart grid technology and deployment, and has an animation-heavy website with lots of info, “Ecomagination.” GE’s Smart Grid Technology ad, which ran during the Super Bowl, is great.

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