The Smart Grid Raises Questions of its Own

The dominant takeaway from GridWeek in Washington, D.C., is that utilities nationwide are looking positively toward the release of $4.6 billion in stimulus funds for the smart grid. Everyone is ready to see those funds put to work by the first quarter of 2010 and expects to see the impact beginning to show in the second quarter.

The proliferation of related technologies will help minimize everyone’s carbon footprint. Smart thermostats, electric cars, the increasing acceptance of going green—it’s the right thing to do.

The ripple effect of building green production is evident in the technological developments for wind, water and clean coal, as well as more efficient homes, hybrid cars and smart appliances. Even Google is working to reduce the cost of green technologies by developing its own new mirror technology that could reduce the cost of building solar arrays and solar thermal plants by a quarter or more.

There are still many questions to ask and answer regarding regulations and specifications for how all of this is going to work. Most of the focus seems to be coming from the operations side, but the smart grid has a major impact on the business side of the utilities. The entire customer service system, the customer service representatives and the customers, themselves, will be involved in the coordination or outsourcing of all energy efficiency programs. Meter crews will be installing or swapping out meters. Other employees will be in homes and offices working on thermostats and solar panels.

At CS Week, we just wrapped up our planning sessions for CS Week 2010 in Nashville, Tenn. Across our different venues, we’ll offer sessions to answer the questions on the business side from customer service and billing to IT. We have three tracks focused specifically on these issues: smart infrastructure/grid, AMI and MDM.

Although the popular press addresses most of its coverage to electrical utility issues with the changes underway, CS Week understands that gas and water/wastewater utilities, co-ops, municipals and governmental entities are deeply involved on conservation and water management sides.

We’ll have top speakers and a thorough vetting of all these issues May 24-48 at CS Week 2010 in Nashville. One thing is for certain—a lot is going to change between now and then.

Jerry Duvall, CEO, CS Week

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