Design Considerations for Smart Grid Management Systems

By Larsh Johnson in Electric Light & Power, March 11 2010

A rapidly evolving combination of new intelligent networks, information systems and regulations, the smart grid will allow the management of energy in real time and collaboration for energy efficiency. Utilities will migrate from an operational model designed to interact monthly with consumers to one that supports on-demand, immediate, two-way communications.

For utilities, smart grid evolution means that business process re-engineering (BPR) and information systems for grid management must commit to large-scale changes. In this environment, utilities and their information technology organizations face challenges such as:

• Navigating the transition without impacting existing operations,
• Connecting and extending existing information technology systems to provide the increased data and automation required,
• Demonstrating an early return, and
• Avoiding inflexible information technology investments.

Despite these challenges, utilities cannot wait to deploy management systems. Implementing these systems within a smart grid-ready design framework insulates utilities from complexity and risk, protecting them from those challenges listed above. In addition, the framework helps utilities seize the opportunities of this grid evolution. But what constitutes a smart grid-ready design framework? What should a utility look for?

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