Reliability emerges as greatest benefit to smart grid deployment

RP news wires
Tags: energy management, green manufacturing, maintenance and reliability

A study investigating perceptions surrounding deployment of the nation’s smart grid was unveiled March 9 by Penton Research/Transmission & Distribution World and sponsor S&C Electric Company, a smart grid leader shaping the future of reliable electrical delivery. The survey uncovered the disposition of managers, engineers and consultants in the electric utility industry on topics such as smart grid challenges, benefits, key technologies, government support and public opinion.

A summary of key findings from survey respondents follows.

  • Electricity reliability, efficiency and power stability were identified as the top three benefits to the smart grid. Reliability and efficiency stand out with 68 and 65 percent of respondents pegging these in the top three, while power stability follows at a more distant third with 39 percent.
  • Communications was identified by 81 percent of respondents as the most important technology to deliver the benefits promised by the smart grid; cybersecurity and smart power flow followed at 75 and 70 percent, respectively. Energy storage, enterprise software and home automation were viewed as least important among the choices.
  • Smart meters are at the top of perceived public awareness according to more than half of respondents and least likely to be seen as underfunded, yet smart meters come in just fourth on the prioritized list of technologies needed to capture the benefits of the smart grid. Further, two-thirds of respondents do not believe the right infrastructure is in place for smart meters to live up to their promise.
  • Technologies that are considered by nearly half of industry respondents to be underfunded include energy storage, security and self-healing/distribution automation.
  • Perception of government support for the smart grid falls short with the majority of respondents citing policy makers as “undercommitted” to building a smart grid.
  • A majority of respondents cite high costs as the biggest hurdle to smart grid deployment followed by lack of adequate incentives and IT security concerns following third.

“A key insight from this survey is the industry’s call to focus smart grid investments on the reliable and efficient delivery of electricity, two of the major benefits to be gained from an intelligent grid,” said John Estey, president and CEO, S&C. “S&C understands these industry needs.  We have a proven track record of developing and deploying technology that makes the complex distribution grid more reliable and allows it to self-heal in the event of a power disturbance, both critical requirements of the smart grid.”

“AMI plays a significant role in the smart grid, but as shown in the survey, a fully functional smart grid is about more than smart meters,” said Witold Bik, vice president for the Automation Systems Division, S&C. “There is a clear need to deploy system-wide intelligent automation that will ensure reliable flow of electric power, facilitate self-healing, and enable integration of renewables into the grid. These technologies must receive greater focus and funding to achieve a smart grid.” 

“On the whole, these findings indicate a need for better communication, understanding and alignment among energy professionals, government officials and the general public on the benefits of and requirements for achieving a smart grid,” said Kristin Letourneau, associate director, Penton Research. “This survey provides a great foundation for a richer dialogue on the issues that matter most to the people truly responsible for implementing the smart grid.”

To view the full study, visit

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