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Improving Operational Efficiency Top Smart-Grid Concern for Utility Execs

OracleSmartGridPrioritiesImproving service reliability and implementing smart metering are two top smart-grid priorities for utility executives over the next decade, according to a report from Oracle. The study also finds that utility executives believe that sharing best practices, developing an information architecture strategy, establishing smart-grid industry standards, and publishing results of pilot projects and internal research are their best bets for success.

The report, based on surveys from 150 North American C-level utility executives, finds that 45 percent of respondents say improving service reliability and operational efficiency is a top priority while 41 percent indicate that implementing smart metering is also a top concern over the next ten years.

The U.S. smart-grid market is expected to double, reaching $42.8 billion in 2014  from $21.4 billion in 2009, according to research from Zpryme.

Despite the high-growth projections, a key finding of the report, “Smart Grid Challenges & Choices: Utility Executives’ Vision for the New Decade,” reveals that only one in five respondents are moving ahead with plans to deploy system-wide smart grids. Forty-nine percent of large utilities (with more than 100,000 customers) and 18 percent of small- to mid-sized utilities (with fewer than 100,000 customers) have trial programs, according to the survey.

Slow adoption of smart-grid programs is also related to the lack of state regulations that create incentives for utilities to use less energy, reports CNET.

But respondents overwhelming believe that consumers will benefit from a smart grid. Case-in-point: Eighty-six percent of large utilities and 82 percent of small- to mid-sized utilities said that a smart grid will provide consumers with energy usage information that will enable smarter choices. Other benefits cited include reduced carbon footprint, more reliable power and lower energy costs.

Forty-three percent of utility executives reveal that their most worrisome issue is consumer reactions to rate increases.

Sixty-three percent of utility execs also expect smart metering to be adopted first followed by demand response and critical peak pricing according to 48 percent of respondents. They also expect consumers to gravitate first toward in-home displays for real-time access to usage and cost data (62 percent) and smart appliances (51 percent).

Oracle, together with Cisco, is driving the adoption of Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications standards for smart grids, which will help utilities better manage and reduce energy consumption, improve smart grid security and reliability, and reduce overall energy costs.

To help improve consumer awareness of the benefits of a smart grid, a new industry group, the Smart Grid Consumer Coalition, will be launched at the DistribuTech utility conference, reports CNET.

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