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Consumer demand directs utility investments to smart grids

By Donna Donnowitz
November 18, 2013

Smart grids are overtaking the priority list for utility investment strategies, with more consumers demanding smart grids to deliver clean, sustainable energy.

According to FierceSmartGrid, over 60 percent of utilities executives believe that smart grid investments are the future of their companies. Nearly 85 percent expect the industry landscape to change in the next five years, and that deploying smart grids will be the key to being prepared. Of course, there are many benefits that come with smart grid investments and firms are seeing changing consumer expectations at the same time.

A recent study by the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative found that 60 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for alternative energy sources, focusing more on green power than reliability as a priority. This shift comes as a surprise to many. While smart grid deployments enhance the reliability of energy delivery, they also have many benefits associated with sustainable, clean power that will help firms adapt to this new trend.

According to the report, 67 percent of consumers were in favor of a $2 increase to their bill for cleaner energy, while 58 percent were willing to pay as much as $10 more. Options like solar power or wind farm-produced energy affected the decisions for some.

Smart grid deployment provides improved infrastructure across the board that will enhance the reliability of clean power delivery while keeping the costs relatively low for providers. Smart meters will also help consumers better control and monitor their own usage in order to further green efforts, reflecting positively on the utility companies offering these benefits.

Of course, whenever a firm invests in smart grid solutions, whether to promote clean energy, increased reliability of the network or simply to reduce its own costs, it is essential for it to utilize the proper terminal servers and serial to Ethernet converter technology to optimize the network and minimize risks.

The proper media converters will play a major role in the efficiency of power systems and smart grids, and firms that optimize will see faster ROI. At the same time, customers will notice the difference and be able to harness the advantages of the smart grid sooner as well.

Ultimately, a smart grid is a key consideration for the future of energy provisioning, clean or not, and utilities have to carefully weigh their options in order to do what is best for their customers, the environment and themselves.

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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