Utilities need future-proof communications strategy

According to a new white paper from Navigant Research, utilities will increasingly depend on the energy superhighway to evolve with the industry and to drive industry evolution.

The utility’s traditional role as the sole regional provider of electric power is evolving into one where the grid is a critical, two-way network for energy services, such as integrated solar and wind, transactive energy markets, microgrids, and other disruptive technologies.

As the electric grid transforms, the importance of an energy superhighway–a low-latency communications backbone that will be necessary to support the many software- and hardware-based systems that will ultimately power the energy cloud–is expected to grow exponentially.

“In order to support the energy services-based paradigm of the energy cloud, utilities will need a holistic, network-centric approach to connectivity throughout their territories,” says Richelle Elberg, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “This energy superhighway is the backbone upon which they will deliver energy services, integrate distributed resources, participate in transactive energy markets, and more.”

The energy superhighway is expected to allow utilities to evolve with the energy industry and to possibly drive its evolution, according to the report. Comparable to the build-out of the U.S. Interstate Highway System in the 1950s, massive economic growth is a possible outcome of a concerted effort to develop the energy superhighway.

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