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Smart Grid System Selection

By Phill Feltham

Currently, utilities, facing many pressures, are expected to change more rapidly than in previous years. Societal pressures to reduce emissions and increase the use of renewables while supporting electric vehicles drive in one direction. The newfound focus of international cyber attackers on the electric grid as a key element of the critical infrastructure drive in another direction.

Together, the aforementioned societal pressures yield a veritable flood of utility grid modernization efforts that embrace internet protocol (IP) networking technologies as new enabling cornerstones to replace existing legacy, non-interconnected, “or siloed”, point-to-point power control and information network architectures. These “Smart Grid” implementations significantly add to overall network data flow while changing processes and procedures.

Fortunately, vendors can learn many valuable lessons from the many early advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and neighborhood area network (NAN) deployments. Electricity Today Magazine focuses on organizing and analyzing the many criteria for selecting a communications system for AMI and the Smart Grid. Government stimulus spending in the U.S. accelerated a raft of early deployments, yielding a strong crop of lessons. Many, though not all, of the lessons learned in the U.S. can be applied to the rest of the world.

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