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Illinois smart grid project back on track

By Donna Donnawitz
May 29, 2013

Smart grid projects often emerge as a public-private partnership in which a government body will work in conjunction with a utility or electric company to foster grid innovation in a region. While this can lead to an accelerated path to technological progress, it can also leave projects mired in legal and political wranglings. This has been a problem in Illinois, where a proposed smart grid project was being backed by legislation that would speed up the entire deployment process. However, the new laws were not met without dissent, stalling the entire project before smart meters were even installed.

According to a recent FierceSmartGrid report, the legal hurdles surrounding ComEd's Illinois smart grid projects have been dealt with and the venture is now set to move forward.

A close look at ComEd's smart grid plans
ComEd's smart grid strategy involves making sweeping investments to modernize the grid. The goal is to use smart grid technology to eliminate approximately 700,000 outages annually. In turn, customers would save as much as $100 million per year in costs related to outages, the report said. As a result, the long-term implications of the smart grid system would be substantial for both the utility provider and its customers.

Considering the legal wranglings
Controversial lines in the legislation surrounding the ComEd project has many worried, leading to it being stalled because of a veto. The Illinois General Assembly recently overturned the veto.Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO for ComEd, told the news source that, with legal issues dealt with, the company will begin moving to develop smart grid architectures quickly.

"Thanks to the leadership demonstrated by the Illinois General Assembly, ComEd now can get the smart grid program back on track and work toward delivering on the full promise of this program to our customers," Pramaggiore told FierceSmartGrid. "We are starting immediately to accelerate smart meter installation and other work to improve reliability, provide new ways to save energy and money, and serve as a shot in the arm to our state's economy."

Smart grids and reliability
Terminal server architectures are integral to supporting reliability efforts through smart grid innovation. The ability to report outages depends heavily on being able to transmit data from substations to utility managers using Ethernet systems. However, most substations feature many serial-based technologies. Serial to Ethernet interconnectivity is vital in overcoming this protocol gap, and terminal servers can make this possible.

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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