GDS International

Smart Grids – The Governmental Approach

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Courtesy of GDS International

Scott Blake Harris is the General Council for the US Department of Energy, and has recently spoken out at the NGU US summit (hosted by GDS International).   He was nominated in the position by President Barack Obama in March 2009, and was confirmed by the United States Senate in May 2009.  He focused his address on the $4 billion investment into smart grids and renewables across the US.

Scott spoke at the most recent NGU US summit, a closed event which brings together more than 50 leading executives and whose sole purpose is to discuss the future of the industry in the US, with the worlds glare firmly on America’s energy futures and increased pressure for green solutions he did not disappoint.

From an operational perspective, many utilities are making their 'smart grid' investments in the distribution network.  To fully take advantage of the potential still to be unlocked from investments into smart grids it is imperative to improve reliability and stability while accommodating new revenue models for utilities.

“This is an unrivaled opportunity to develop a greater network of peers - the creation of a dynamic, collaborative community of thought leaders focused on consumer participation in the Smart Grid and the role each of us will play is key.”

The big challenge is how to engage the community and utilities together into a full-throttled drive to create the optimal Smart Grid solutions that will reduce energy costs for consumers and utilities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and build national energy security.  The stakes are high, and it’s not a given that the Smart Grid will be built in the most intelligent and cost-effective ways.  Those Utilities which are to receive Smart Grid funding are concerned on the ability to deliver especially when looking at the bandwidth capabilities needed to tackle the smart grid initiatives, and when faced with a short time frame of three years.  Working together will be key, agreed the NGU Committee, we are capable of achieving the goals it is now time to prove it.  

But the advantages to smart grid implementation for the consumer are easy to measure; Jeff Johnson of Constellation Energy stated that by informing customers of peaking prices during the day, they are able to reduce electricity consumption by as much as 20%.   As technology around the household increases the need for an effective way to measure output is becoming more important, with multiple TV’s and computers now the norm in the average household monitoring output will be essential.

Also taking a stand was Cyrus Wadia who focused on the technical implementations of smart grid technology including T&D to an audience including invited representatives from Alcatel lucent, Itron, Hp, PV Powered and Smart Synch who came to share their thought leadership with the senior executive community.

“Smart meters with two-way fixed communications (AMI) enable utilities to capture information/metrics rapidly and make business decisions faster than ever before. They also facilitate the integration of functional units within utilities and open the door for greater customer engagement and communications.”

If government investment into smart grids has made it the technology of the future meetings such as the NGU US are necessary to ensure a collaborative driving force in implementing the right strategies.  


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