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Software Drives Smart Grid Deployments

smartgrid2In order to deliver real-time communications over smart-grid networks, utility companies like Duke Energy and Xcel Energy are partnering with technology companies that can deliver the hardware and software necessary to enable communications between utilities and customers as well as network devices.

As an example, Ambient Corp. has recently signed a long-term agreement with Duke Energy to provide communication technologies for the utility’s next phase of its smart-grid deployment. The two-way communications node will support the utility’s integration of numerous devices on the grid, according to Duke Energy.

The contract calls for Ambient to provide its X-series communications node as the central communications technology to transmit data from residential and commercial smart meters, and other applications back to the utility’s network operations center.

Xcel Energy’s Smart Grid City project in Boulder, Colo., has completed construction of the infrastructure and launched the remaining software to enable all Smart Grid City operational functions. The utility says this makes it the first fully functioning smart grid-enabled city in the world.

The smart grid will provide customers with greater energy use information, and allows them and Xcel Energy to control in-home energy management devices remotely when demand calls for it.

This launch ties together all the automated functions of Smart Grid City including: switching power through fully-automated substations; re-routing power around bottlenecked lines; detecting power outages and proactively identifying outage risks. The deployment integrated more than 20 applications, 95 new interfaces and more than 300 test cases.

Early results from the latest software deployments indicate that smart-grid technology is allowing the company to predict equipment failure and proactively make necessary repairs before an outage occurs.

Some of Excel’s partners on the project include Accenture, CURRENT Group, GridPoint, OSIsoft, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, SmartSynch and Ventyx.

In other smart grid news, Nokia Home Control Center (HCC) has partnered with Comsel Systems, to create a new company, There Corporation, to focus on smart-grid, smart-home and metering solutions.

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