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Smart grid coming to rural parts of United States

By Max Burkhalter
February 28, 2013

I remember watching Field of Dreams as a kid and thinking that it would have been so much fun to live in rural America back in the day when the U.S. economy centered around two extremes - farming in the country and industry in the cities. Those farms seemed like giant tracts of land where anything couldhappen. Even something as crazy, and oddly beautiful, as building a pristine baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield.

Those were the days when the economy was built on actual goods. Now, we live in a time where the economy is built on information, and lets face it, many rural areas don't have the kind of infrastructure in place to help them keep up. The U.S. Department of Agriculture could put an end to that, at least in one area, as it is working on a project that will enable smart grid innovation in rural parts of the United States, FierceSmartGrid reported.

Smart grid headed to rural communities
The groundwork for smart grid deployments in rural regions was laid, in part, by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's efforts to develop robust fiber-optic middle mile networks that provide backhaul for telecoms and direct connectivity for government organizations. This high-performance network setup can be used to support some smart grid functions.

According to the news source, John Padalino, rural utilities acting administrator for USDA Rural Utilities, explained that the USDA's efforts to improve smart grid penetration in rural areas comes as a component of broad government plans to update utility systems.

"In his State of the Union Address last week, President Obama said that in America we have 'an aging infrastructure badly in need of repair' and these investments help to address our country's infrastructure challenges," said Padalino, according to FierceSmartGrid. "Upgrading rural infrastructure sets the stage for economic development, because access to reliable, affordable electricity is essential to rural job creation."

Bringing economic growth to rural areas
With FTTH and smart grid both gaining prominence in rural areas, the need for specialty network systems is becoming apparent. In the case of FTTH, fiber to Ethernet media converters are vital to making the optical infrastructure work well with Ethernet systems used in homes. For smart grid, terminal servers are needed to ensure serial-specific utility solutions can interact with Ethernet network technologies.

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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