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To Deliver Promise of Smart Grid, Adopt IP Standards

trilliantBefore the smart grid can show its true benefits and grow robustly, the industry needs to adopt internet protocol-based standards, industry leaders said.

Without IP-like standards, the smart grid may stumble along, with unexpected fits of unreliability that affect the practicality and stability of such systems, reports ProcessingTalk.com.

As happens with many developing technologies, at this early stage various manufacturers are pushing their own versions of technologies and standards, and some of these are incompatible.

“If the smart grid is to become a reality, there needs to be a single interoperability standard and … it should become an IP-based smart grid,” said Jorge Blasco, Chief Executive Officer at DS2, in the article. “For example, each communication technology often comes with its own management protocol, so if a utility uses three or four different communications technologies for its Smart Grid, it may end up with three or four different management systems that don’t talk to each other.”

An IP-enabled smart grid would mean that every smart meter, smart appliance and distributed sensor could have its own IP address, aiding in remote management of the devices.

The Department of Energy recently finalized $3.3 billion in grants that it first proposed in April. The fact that the grants range from $500,000 to $200 million is better than the $20 million cap that was first proposed, said NEMA, which has a list of state stimulus efforts here (registration required).

Many companies are forging ahead with products to address the smart grid needs of commercial and industrial users.

For instance, Cisco and its partners have the Building Mediator platform, which connects power supply for heating, ventilation, lighting and IT systems to that firm’s IP network. This allows network administrators to govern energy use across the company by setting a series of rules, such as automatically turning on and off an employee’s office lights and computer after the employee swipes his or her badge at the security desk, reports Forbes.com.

The Building Mediator is part of Cisco’s recently announced Smart Connected Buildings program, a standards-based building SCADA system that intelligently integrates existing building systems.

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