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Smart grid secrets - get consumers involved

By Donna Donnawitz
December 31, 2012
If you spent time as a gossip-hungry teenage girl - some of us can't escape our past - you'd know that there are some secrets that really aren't secrets at all. In middle school terms it's issues like who likes who or which teacher tends to sneak really easy questions into tests. When the gossip starts to spread, those of us who were in the "in" crowd during those days turned our noses up in disdain because we couldn't be bothered with such obvious and non-juicy gossip.

As an adult writing about smart grid-related gossip, I sometimes find myself feeling the sense of "why are you telling me the obvious?" The advice to get consumers involved in the smart grid is one of those moments.

Not so secret advice - get consumers into the grid
Utility companies are used to operating in a fairly insular ways. Unless it impacts their bill or leaves them without power for a while, consumers just don't care seem to care about the goings on in the grid. This is understandable and has created an environment in which many utility companies are going about smart grid innovation without getting consumers involved. This represents a significant mistake that limits the effectiveness of the technology. Recent research from the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative explained why.

According to the news source, a series of surveys performed over the course of 2012 point to the fact that consumers actually like knowing what is going on with the smart grid because they can appreciate the technology's potential and support projects. As a result, utility companies could benefit a great deal from consumer education programs in 2013, especially as more of the market is ready for smart grid innovation. Patty Durand, executive director of the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, explained that when consumers understand the smart grid, they tend to like it.

"In summary, we've found that once consumers are educated about smart grid, they are supportive of it," said Durand. "So the opportunity to further engage with our consumers only gets bigger. Armed with research, facts, figures, knowledge and a vision, industry can continue to educate its customers."

Making the smart grid work efficiently
While consumer involvement is key for smart grid buy-in, you still have to get the network to work. Serial to Ethernet media conversion tools play a vital role in this process. They provide the interoperability needed to make the grid work and create an Ethernet foundation for real-time data flow within the grid. With this functionality in place, utility companies can focus less on the network and more on getting consumers involved.

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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