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Most executives expect smart grid use will rise in 2012

By Donna Donnawitz
February 14, 2012
Approximately 80 percent of utility executives polled in a recent Zpryme survey expect investments in smart grid solutions to increase during 2012. The study found executives are increasingly prioritizing smart grid deployment in an effort to quickly upgrade utility distribution systems and improve sustainability.

Phil Davis, senior manager at the Schneider Electric Demand Response Resource Center, told Zpryme that a diverse range of industry conditions are currently creating a positive environment for smart grid investments in the United States.

"Utility investments will increase because smart grid technology is the only rational long term strategy to manage the complex requirements of renewables integration, government regulation, emissions requirements, and increased stakeholder demands, all while maintaining the reliability and predictability that customers, employees and investors expect," said Davis.

While news surrounding smart grid technology in 2012 is overwhelmingly positive, the study did warn that utility providers need to move quickly toward the technology. The supply of government funding for smart grid is set to run out sometime in 2012, creating an environment in which it will be much more difficult to invest in the technology after the year-long period of rapid growth. This concern is echoed by the 90 percent of respondents who told Zpryme that they believe government support is among the most important elements to smart grid's success.

Increased smart grid investment is not the only trend coming for 2012, more utility providers will actually begin putting that money to use by installing smart grid systems. More than half of respondents they expect to see tangible smart grid expansion within utility networks, not just investments for the future. According to Zpryme, this trend is emerging after 2011 witnessed many utility companies accept government subsidies and plan their smart grid deployments. Providers now seem primed for progressive action.

The United States is not alone in experiencing rapid expansion on the smart grid front. Studies from a variety of sources have pointed to increased smart grid spending in a diverse range of settings, with emerging economies also falling into the mix. Improving sustainability is one of the primary reasons why so many countries are getting behind smart grid, and a recent study from Lucintel found making better use of renewable resources is often one of the primary reasons behind smart grid adoption.

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