“The Smart Grid Is Inseparable from the Internet”

By Marcie Barnes

This is a live blog post from the talk entitled¬†”The Smart Grid Is Inseparable from the Internet” at SXSW. Speaker is Steven Collier VP Mktg & Business Dev Milsoft Utility Solutions Inc. and blogs at www.smartgridman.com



The power grid began in late 1800s in New York City by Thomas Edison when he deployed Pearl Street Station. He invented the light bulb because he wanted to put the gas company out of business when they shut off his service. It’s been built over time to be “big” – capacity and redundancy (backup paths) have been the only tools. As electric consumption grew by leaps and bounds, power plants are being built bigger and bigger. Plants, transmission lines, and distribution centers are still the same with the smart grid – the only difference is the electric meter – make the meter smart.

Power plants take 10-20 years to build and get online, so there are going to be outages – the grid is in trouble. “The secret plan to kill the smart grid” is to tell the consumer they can’t use electricity when they want to or will have to pay way more, and have to manually monitor what is on or off in the home. This is the mindset of most big utilities, that they will be able to change consumers’ mindsets.

Nuclear power was supposed to be so cheap that it wouldn’t have to be metered. They almost always take much longer to build and cost way more than originally estimated and don’t produce the energy promised. Coal and gas-fired plants are not popular either.

Reports ask for a more intelligent grid – there is no reason why consumers shouldn’t expect the power to always be on in the 21st century. A smart grid uses digital technology to improve reliability, security and efficiency. Monolithic centralized grids are also targets for terrorists. We need a modular, flexible, self-healing grid.

In order to make the grid smarter, we need to use the internet – remote control capabilities, IP based, open standards, use enterprise analysis to collect and analyze data.

Phaser measurement units (PMUs) measure the electrical waves on an electricity grid so there could be syncing between when things should be turned on or off. Microgrids – local generators – would offer more security.

Enernet – a conjoining off all the challenges of the grid with the internet.

“The Internet of things” – connecting inanimate objects – is the next step in technological revolution.

Question about nuclear power – it could come back but we should be building smaller plants so events are more containable.





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