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Distribution automation key to smart grid ROI

By Max Burkhalter
December 30, 2013

Smart grids offer a plethora of benefits, from improved demand provisioning to the control over renewable power sources that utility providers need to optimize sustainability and related efforts. However, in order to drive these values and optimize the ROI that comes from investing in smart grid technologies like terminal server solutions, smart meters and more, firms have to look at two factors in deployment - infrastructure and distribution automation.

According to, a recent report from Navigant Research notes that advanced metering infrastructure and distribution automation are the biggest boons and challenges to power companies investing in smart grid solutions. Potential obstacles to grid optimization include insufficiently robust infrastructure, organizational silos for customer-facing solutions and a lack of collaboration internally. The big data movement has also been cited as an issue for organizations implementing smart grid technologies, but more so in terms of handling sheer data volumes, rather than delivering actionable insights.

"The integration of advanced metering infrastructure and distribution automation will help utilities wring further financial benefits out of past investments and strengthen their AMI business cases before regulators," noted Richelle Elberg, senior research analyst with Navigant Research, according to the news source. However, companies have to optimize their deployments first in order to gain these benefits.

The first step to eliminating chokepoints in both metering infrastructure and automation is to carefully select the hardware and support systems used to build the grid in the first place. The right cabling, serial to Ethernet converter technology and Ethernet I/O will provide essential support as firms build their infrastructure and expand it to substations and the customer. From improving the flow of data back to the supplier to optimizing distribution automation remotely, these tools will enable the key parts of smart grid infrastructure and align them with legacy technologies and systems more effectively.

The hardware used in any smart grid deployment creates the key element for success. Should this hardware fail the needs of the business or be lacking in terms of flexibility or scalability, smart grid efforts will inevitably fall short. By focusing on the infrastructure, key hardware to support automation and the interconnectivity of these systems, utilities will see their ROI flood in.

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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