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Grid modernization integral to improving resiliency

By Donna Donnawitz
August 26, 2013

Reliability is one of the greatest challenges facing utility providers. Legacy models for grid operation, which are still in place in many regions, won't get you very far when a weather emergency or similar problem strikes. Current models for grid operation have left many electric companies in a bad situation when outages strike, and smart grid solutions could be the answer.

Grid revitalization and modernization is not an isolated movement. Instead, the President has identified grid modernization as a key processfor the United States. A recent report from the Executive Office of the President identified establishing a 21st century grid as a major priority moving forward, and pinned smart grid solutions as the technology that can make that happen.

Looking at the importance of a more reliable grid
The news source explained that there have been approximately 679 widespread power outages caused by extreme weather during the period of 2003 and 2012. At first glance, that number may seem a bit low, but you have to look closely at the research to understand its importance. First, the study specifically indicates that the figure only represents widespread outages, meaning they had to have impacted a significant number of people for an extended period. The research also indicated the kind of damages these outages have had, and it is fairly staggering.

The 679 weather-related widespread outages have led to billions of dollars in economic losses because grid reliability issues disrupt every phase of society, as schools are canceled, businesses can not get the job done and other problems emerge. As a result, the economic implications of major power outages indicate that change is necessary, and a modern grid built on smart grid technologies is the solution that the country needs, the report explained.

Establishing an effective smart grid
Terminal servers represent one of the essential considerations when trying to modernize the grid. Communications architectures are integral to improving grid reliability, as real-time automation solutions can use the network to notify operators of areas that are not functioning properly or damaged. However, establishing this infrastructure is challenging because multiple media protocols are usually used within utility infrastructure. Serial-based network solutions are particularly problematic, as they are common in critical areas like transformer stations. Serial to Ethernet terminal servers are integral to interconnecting these serial solutions with the Ethernet networks commonly used to support data transmission in the smart grid.

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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