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Market Changes, Energy Pricing Driving Enterprise Smart Grid

As the world comes out of recession, smart grid technology is set to emerge with a far wider usage base, according to a white paper released by Groom Energy.

In Enterprise Smart Grid – An Overview: Definitions Drivers and Vendor Landscape, Groom Energy argues that a convergence of policy, market and technical developments are driving the emergence of the “enterprise smart grid.”

Groom takes the enterprise smart grid to mean “an intelligent network and business process for understanding and managing energy consumption within a large organization.”

Company policy is a major reason for the expected emergence of the smart grid, the white paper says. Most firms broadly expect energy prices to rise, and as such, many are adopting a more comprehensive approach to reducing energy costs.

Managers of companies also want to participate more in utility rebate programs, as well as custom utility rebates for behavior changes, the report said. These in turn require more measurement and verification. These companies are far more likely now to employ corporate energy managers charged with tracking and reducing energy consumption.

Changes within the market, such as an abundance of vendors, are also pushing the enterprise smart grid’s rise to prominence, the white paper argues. Vendors also have a broader role than before: carbon managers have merged into “energy management vendors,” according to Groom.

And technology-wise, low-cost wireless and cellular communications technology is making the sharing of information between both people and machines cheaper and easier than ever before.

Groom’s report includes an analysis showing some of the most common enterprise smart grid technologies being used in various sectors (see chart, above.)

“We’ve seen the customer need emerging over the last few years, initially with our heaviest electricity consumers.  Going forward it’s clear that every business will need to more fully consider current energy costs in their decision-making, and view energy as a variable, not a fixed cost,” said Paul Baier, vice president of sustainability consulting at Groom Energy.

“Enterprise smart grid companies will have all of the data they need for significant energy and money savings,” Baier added.

Groom has also launched a website that defines and highlights the burgeoning market.

In other smart grid news, Tropos Networks and Itron Inc. have announced that Avista Corp. has selected their jointly developed Smart Grid solution as part of the $38 million Smart Grid Demonstration Project in the city of Pullman, Wash., and the nearby community of Albion.

The goal of the project is to use smart technologies to automate part of the energy distribution system with the aim of increasing system reliability and reducing outage time, incorporating renewable energy sources, and providing customers with more tools and information to monitor their energy usage, the companies say.

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