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Smart Grid Presents Opportunities in Cost Savings, Power Reliability, Energy Optimization

electricityUtilities, commercial businesses and other organizations have the opportunity to spur the development of a U.S. smart grid, which is expected to deliver significant energy and cost savings. A smart grid is the right decision to meet both social responsibility and economic business objectives, according to Dave Hardin, Invensys Operations Management, in an article written for ISA.

Hardin believes industrial customers have the opportunity to participate in transitioning toward a smarter grid, particularly since the industrial sector uses more energy than any other sector, consuming about 50 percent of the world’s total delivered energy, according to a recent Energy Information Administration report. In the U.S., this translates into 25 percent of the grid’s total energy consumed by the industrial sector, a major operating expense for many industrial operations, he says.

While industrial consumption has a significant impact on the grid, the grid can impact industrial operations, including electrical disturbances that can impact power quality and reliability, as well as damage equipment, which can cost the industrial sector about $20 billion annually and the commercial sector about $57 annually, says Hardin.

The smart grid can help. Hardin says a smart grid, which already has initial funding of $4 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will deliver more reliable transmission and distribution, bi-directional energy flow with customers and intelligent energy consumption.

Hardin notes that industrial microgrids, self-contained energy systems, include the capability to consume on-site energy generation as well as grid-supplied generation, protecting operations from grid faults that affect power availability and quality while also allowing excess energy to be exported back to the grid.

Utilities already see the benefits and plan to invest $21 billion in smart grid security efforts between 2010 and 2015, according to a new Pike Research study, reports Government Technology. The push is being drive by the U.S. Department of Energy’s smart grid stimulus programs, and the need to secure smart grid deployments, according to the article.

In the meantime, organizations are pushing ahead with their smart-grid plans. As an example, the CURRENT Group and Verizon have partnered to deliver real-time power consumption and analysis communications between utilities and wireless sensor networks, reports IP Call Recording. The partnership is aimed at optimizing energy supply and demand, improving security and reliability, and reducing operational costs, according to the article.

Under the agreement, Verizon will provide the wireless and IP network services, network and security services, and IT security consulting services, while CURRENT will provide the intelligent sensor that monitors distribution grid performance.

The organizations say a Joint Smart Grid will give electric companies three adoption options: substation-by-substation, application-by-application or enterprise-wide basis, reports IP Call Recording.

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