Helping the Grid Get Smarter

Progress toward what has been referred to as the “smart” power grid of the future got a boost recently when the Electricity Innovation Institute (E2I), an EPRI affiliate, announced completion of the first phase of the Intelligrid Architecture (see News, page 8).

E2I describes its vision of the intelligent electricity grid, or “intelligrid,” as one that employs automated technology to be self-healing and adaptive in nature, is interactive with customers and markets, is optimized to make best use of aging equipment, is predictive in regards to maintenance, and is secure in its ability to protect itself from physical or cyber attack. The Intelligrid Architecture is “an open, standards-based systems architecture for the data communications networks and intelligent equipment” required to support this vision of a self-healing, intelligent grid.

It’s easy to look at EPRI’s and E2I’s ambitious vision of the intelligent grid of the future (available at and dismiss it as a pipe dream. EPRI has admitted that it would probably take two or three decades for its vision to be fully implemented, and in a time when most utility companies are focused on the short-term goals of paying down debt and patching isolated trouble spots in the grid, the long view can be hazy.

However, it’s important to note that several power companies are already applying Intelligrid tools to current projects:

  • Electricite de France is applying Intelligrid recommendations as it redesigns its distribution information system to meet European Union market restructuring requirements.
  • The California Energy Commission is using Intelligrid methods and recommendations as it works with California utilities to implement a widespread demand response program.
  • Intelligrid recommendations for communications standards and technologies are being utilized as part of the Eastern Interconnection Phasor Project (EIPP), reported on in the September/October 2004 issue of Utility Automation & Engineering T&D. Equipment and software being installed as part of the EIPP will provide transmission operators with a big picture of the grid over the eastern half of the country.

Given the progress to date, the Intelligrid vision is beginning to look much more like reality. At this point, it’s important that utility executive and members of the vendor community learn about Intelligrid and what it could mean for the future of the North American power system. At the heart of the Intelligrid concept is the idea of getting power industry participants to work in a cohesive, coordinated manner for the betterment of grid technology. More details about E2I and the Intelligrid Architecture are available at

DistribuTECH attendees will have at least a couple of opportunities to learn about Intelligrid and the Intelligrid Architecture during the upcoming conference in San Diego. T.J. Glauthier, E2I’s president and CEO, will be one of three keynote speakers at DistribuTECH 2005, which takes place Jan. 25-27 in San Diego. Additionally, a group of speakers from EPRI and E2I are scheduled to deliver a presentation titled “Creating the Smart Electric Power Delivery System of the Future,” in the Distribution Operations Management track of the DistribuTECH conference at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25. For more details about DistribuTECH 2005, see pages 16-26 or visit

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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