Thursday, April 05, 2012
San Diego utility company finding success with smart grid
San Diego Gas & Electric recently took in another award as an intelligent utility provider, as the large-scale electric and natural gas distribution company is finding great success using advanced technology to improve operations. According to a recent Intelligent Utility report, the organization has used smart meters and other smart grid technology to catapult itself into the role of one of the most advanced major utility organizations in the country.
Considering the scale of SDG&E, its accomplishments are considerable. Jim Avery, senior vice president of power supply, told the news source that the company serves more than 3.5 million people and does so through the deployment of more than 1.4 million electric meters. The service has to be adapted to the needs of more than 25 different communities spread over 4,100 square meters of land, making utility delivery a major challenge. Smart grid has helped the company meet the demands associated with such large scale utility delivery and helped the organization overcome major operational challenges.
The move to smart meters and smart grid operations took place in 2011, when SDG&E installed the technology in both its electric and gas operations. This allows the organization to remotely track operating conditions and adjust distribution accordingly. It also makes it much easier for the utility to take full advantage of communications infrastructure and allow for more interactive customer usage models. At the same time, Avery told the news source that reaching this point was somewhat challenging because the company had to overcome external conditions that affected the grid and could not be predicted before deployment. These issues were dealt with through good communication within the utility provider and with customers throughout the duration of the project, making it much easier to deal with the unique challenges of smart grid setups.
While smart grid creates some challenges, it also overcomes many core flaws in the current utility grid. One of those issues the limitations of renewable energy. Wind turbines and solar power are especially vulnerable to inconsistent power delivery because the sources of energy are not constant. This has limit the use of these resources in important power systems. However, smart grid is enabling more renewable energy use because it can store excess electricity and predict distribution needs over time to ensure there is always enough power to meet demand.
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