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Major smart grid project headed to San Antonio

By Max Burkhalter
March 29, 2013

Smart grid technologies are starting to gain a stronger hold in a variety of places around the world. If you look around for large-scale projects though, you won't find many larger than this one - CPS Energy, the largest municipal utility company in the United States, recently announced plans to deploy a robust smart grid setup that will feature a combination of distribution automation and sophisticated smart meters, Government Technology reported.

Looking at CPS Energy's smart grid project
CPS Energy servers approximately 740,000 customers in the San Antonio, Texas, region. The smart grid will be built on an IPv6 network that could enable advanced functionality in the network.Lisa Lewis, a spokeswoman for CPS Energy, told the news source that building the smart grid on an IPv6 network should enable the utility provider to invest in sophisticated capabilities moving forward. In many ways, using IPv6 has future proofed the network. Furthermore, using smart grid in general will allow CPS Energy to establish more efficient power generation sites that enable zero, or near-zero air emissions.

Reducing air emissions is particularly important in a metropolitan region like San Antonio, where air pollution issues are fairly prominent, the report said.

Lewis told Government Technology that having a future-proof network setup should pay dividends for the utility company.

"Because we're all using that standardized [IPv6] platform, we can work with other types of technologies to incorporate them as new technologies become available," Lewis told the news source. "This is such a rapidly changing and growing field that as new things become available, as long as they're formatted and fit this platform, we should be able to plug them in."

Considering the role of IPv6 in smart grid setups
As a protocol, IPv6 offers much more than relief from IPv4's dwindling address space. The extremely large number of addresses in IPv6 can pay major dividends in smart grid setups because the grid depends heavily on connected devices spread throughout the entire ecosystem. At the same time, IPv6 has the theoretical potential to be much more secure than IPv4. These factors combine to make IPv6 network systems a key tool for utility providers establishing smart grid setups. However, using IPv6 effectively also depends on having terminal servers and similar solutions that can handle the network format. Terminal server infrastructure is key to enabling interoperability within the network and an IPv6-enabled device is necessary if the network uses the emerging protocol.

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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