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Smart grid brings long-term benefits from short-term costs

By Donna Donnawitz
December 7, 2012
There is no doubt that smart grid is an expensive technology. The real question is whether or not any utility providers should have a problem with that cost. According to a recent report, there is no reason for utilities to look at the initial costs of smart grid solutions and think they should not bother with the technology. The reasoning is simple - smart grid saves money, lives and time in the long run.

To illustrate this point, the news source explained that a few key smart grid technologies could have helped communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy respond much more quickly to the disaster and get power systems running again.

Considering smart grid's ability to recover
Getting up and running after a disaster is one of the most important considerations for a utility company. Without electricity, many people end up suffering, especially if the event takes place in the middle of a season with harsh weather conditions. The report said that smart meters can play a key role in helping utility companies get electricity working again by pinpointing precisely which homes are without power and automatically notifying the electricity provider when energy access is restored. Similarly, distribution management systems play a vital role in limiting the impact of outages. These solutions monitor the entire electricity distribution solution and provide vital control over systems, enabling key repairs and configuration adjustments to be accelerated.

Smart grid limitations
While these gains are incredible, there's just one problem - money. And the cost issue is not even in the technology. Citing Siemens, the report explained that core IT systems may not be the greatest cost of smart grid. Instead, training employees or hiring new workers could end up being more expensive than installing the technology. However, the end result is a utility grid that is much easier to repair, maintain and use efficiently, eliminating so much waste from the electricity distribution system that the gains can be incredible over time.

Jumping in to the smart grid
Getting going in the smart grid is difficult because it requires a combination of utility-specific technologies and traditional IT tools. In the network, this gap can be bridged through the use of serial to Ethernet media conversion systems. These tools enable interoperability within the smart grid network, ensuring the communications systems in place function properly and efficiently.

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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