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POWERGRID_INTERNATIONAL Volume 16 Issue 4

Communicating Over Power Lines Requires Advanced Technology

The global focus on smart grid has placed power line communication (PLC) in the spotlight. Utilities often favor PLC because it is a natural approach that allows them to move data over an infrastructure they control. Advanced metering infrastructure, automated meter reading, street lighting control, smart energy home area networking, home automation and building automation require communications over existing power lines.

NEW PRODUCTS

BURNDY, a manufacturer and provider of connector solutions to the industrial, energy, construction, telecommunication, petrochemical, data center, and transportation industries, introduces the SUPER-CLAMP, its newest raised floor pedestal ground connector. The GXP1828RF is a multi-functional, easy to install, range taking ground connector. This grounding clamp accepts an extensive range of pedestal types as well as conductors. The accepted pedestal range is 3/4” through 2”, for use with either round and square styles (7/8” to 2” round; 3/4” to 1-1/2” square). The wire range is #6 solid to 4/0 stranded. The wires can be arranged in parallel or in a cross grid configuration and can accept 1 or 2 wires.

The Meters are Smart, but What about the Data?

As smart meters continue to serve as the gateway to broader smart grid initiatives, a missing link has emerged that has prompted many utilities and suppliers to take a closer look at why integrating disparate systems and applications have become roadblocks to delivering new services and solutions. The value to consumers and the utility is not the meter by itself or even the data by itself. The true value is in real-time data integration to develop new processes and capabilities such as load curtailment, self healing, fault location detection and restoration, remote connect and disconnect, advance billing, time of usage and variable rate billing and other demand management programs.

Smart Grid Improves Mobile Workforce Efficiencies

Most utility field workers have limited real-time data communications available to them in the field. They check-in at the beginning of their shifts and receive work orders and schedules. Some receive them on paper while others have a laptop in their vehicle and can download/upload data when they are at the office. Few have a virtual office whereby they can access the same information in the field as from the office. In some cases, records, manuals, maps and other documents are not available digitally. In other cases, the utility has not yet invested in workforce automation tools. Over the next five to 10 years, however, mobile utility workers’ world is likely to change, bringing new applications and efficiencies to their jobs while improving overall customer service.

Personal Information Concerns Smart Grid Developers

Because most smart meters collect customer usage data every 15 minutes, the electric utilities deploying them have much information revealing how customers use electricity. When it comes to using this data, utilities have only good intentions. Customers, however, aren’t so sure, and many worry why utilities even have the data and whether third parties will obtain it.

The Increasing Importance of Security for the Smart Grid

A smart grid can help utilities conserve energy, reduce costs, increase reliability and transparency, and make processes more efficient. The increasing use of IT-based electric power systems, however, increases cyber security vulnerabilities, which increases cyber security’s importance. Utilities must consider smart grid security, including vulnerable areas, strategic issues, the layered security approach, data management and privacy concerns, and scenario planning and threat profiling.

Even an Ironman Needs a Little Support

Powerful and speedy electricity transmission is simple. While other parts of the power equation (inside the power plant, inside the substation, inside your home) overflow with complications and details, transmission remains in a unique zen category: It’s 99 percent big towers and long, long wires.

Mobile Workforce Applications Step Up to Smart Metering

Depolyment is among the most daunting challenges to utilities entering the smart metering era. Given current pressures on field technicians, can a utility ask them to undertake the enormous task of changing out every customer’s meter? Can utilities accomplish the task with overtime? Are contract workers required to complete the task? Should the utility outsource the entire task to a third party?

Confusion to Clarity: A Smarter Way to Mine Data

Smart grid data enables utility providers to uncover consumer energy usage and spending habits. By interacting on a consistent basis with customers, companies can take advantage of the unique opportunity to listen to their customers’ needs and wants and provide personalized information. This information can include conservation tips to each customer based on his or her consumption. Imagine how a customer might feel if his local utility company contacted him about a recent spike in his power usage before the billing cycle closed.

IP+Apps Promises a Smarter Grid for Critical Utility Communications

Next-generation communications, particularly data transmission, will help move smart grid beyond concept to practical employment. Better data flow is opening the door to new sensing, measurement and control capabilities that can and will influence electricity production, transmission, distribution and consumption. Most significant is that this new paradigm will replace old top-down energy structures with bi-directional models, ushering in new roles and responsibilities for consumers, electricity providers and even automation technologies operations. But as Internet protocol (IP) network speeds improve and access to smarter voice applications grows, utilities can achieve a smarter communications grid now.