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Massachusetts sets smart grid standard with mandatory compliance

By Donna Donnowitz
December 31, 2013

Massachusetts has joined the ranks of states making smart grid deployments a requirement for investor-owned utility providers, launching new regulations that focus on shared cost of grid upgrades between the company and its customers.

According to GreenTechMedia, the state's Department of Public Utilities issued an order on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, which requires all of the big utility providers within its borders to submit 10-year grid modernization plans before July 2014. Other requirements, such as the implementation of smart meters and a budget outline for the plan, must also be included. To date, Massachusetts has seen significantly lower smart meter deployments than almost every other state in the country.

Other states are also implementing their own strategies to bring smart grid technologies to their residents, such as Maryland's Utility 2.0 plan or Ohio's gridSMART project, but few are pushing the broad reforms that Massachusetts is. According to the news source, the recent order includes provisions for power grid reform, with a reduction in the effect of outages across the state, optimization of demand costs, a focus on distributed resources and improved asset management overall. The mandate also includes guideline for electric vehicle support, but no official requirements for its inclusion at this point.

In order to meet the new state standards and expedite smart grid solutions, power providers in Massachusetts may need to upgrade their infrastructure beyond new meters, including serial to Ethernet converters and Remote I/O support to enhanced grid management. This focus will drive the most value to customers and help optimize the growth of future initiatives that will help reduce costs for both the provider and residents.

Further smart grid efforts are always a key consideration for current investments, and utility companies should keep their future in mind, whether deploying an entire grid overhaul such as Massachusetts may be requiring or simply updating substation systems. Tackling these efforts with the appropriate hardware, like terminal servers, ready for integration, will provide the improvements needed immediately, as well as the flexibility for future changes.

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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