Thursday, August 01, 2013
Consumer engagement plays vital role in smart grid innovation
The smart grid offers many potential gains in the utility sector. In particular, the technology is well suited to helping utility providers deliver energy to customers with more precision. This can be supported through network systems that deliver usage data to energy companies more effectively and allow them to depend heavily on renewable resources. However, a power delivery model that is built around better data use also offers potential for dynamic pricing, a divisive issue in the sector. According to a recent Smart Grid News report, consumer education is integral to dynamic pricing, adding to the areas in which getting customers engaged can spur smart grid innovation.
Dynamic pricing and the smart grid
There are two sides to the dynamic pricing issue. On one end of the spectrum, some experts believe that consumers prefer simplicity to such a degree that they would oppose dynamic electric costs that are based on usage. Furthermore, the potential of getting a large bill on a given month because of high energy use rates can be a scary thought for many people. However, the news source said that these concerns about dynamic pricing are primarily hypothetical. In actual use, dynamic pricing has worked in many sectors and there is a good chance that consumers could pounce on the opportunity to save money through better energy use tools that are attached to smart grid functionality.
The report explained that initial efforts to use dynamic pricing in the utility sector have failed, primarily, because smart grid technologies have yet to evolve to the point that they can support more flexible fiscal models. However, grid technologies have advanced to the point that new dynamic pricing models are possible in many instances. These solutions could end up becoming extremely important in saving consumers money, keeping utility costs under control and supporting increased renewable resource use. However, having success with dynamic pricing is not a sure thing and finding success, like in so many smart grid plans, requires consume engagement and education.
Preparing the grid for consumer-focused operations
Altering the utility grid to support consumer-friendly applications and services depends on having a robust network in place to support data delivery to a wide range of sources. As a result, utility providers must not only develop an effective network topology, they also need to use terminal servers and media converters to overcome interoperability gaps throughout the infrastructure. Having an effective network in place is essential to establishing robust smart grid functions that interact with utility and consumer systems.
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.