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Software investment showcases smart grid's potential

By Max Burkhalter
October 30, 2012
EnergyAustralia, a leading utility provider, recently announced plans to deliver an Opower customer energy management solution to approximately 1.5 million residents of Queensland, Victoria, South Wales and South Australia.

Importance of smart grid software
I know what you may be thinking at this point, "Who cares about software when smart grid hardware advances still need to be made throughout the world?" The sentiment is understandable. However, finding success with the smart grid is about unifying multiple aspects of utility technology.

At the first level, utility providers have to have smart meters, remote sensors, advanced utility equipment and other solutions that allow for strategic data gathering. Once that hardware is in place, utilities have to establish the network infrastructure needed to transport data between consumers and the utility department. This involves a combination of automation systems, sophisticated switching technology and serial to Ethernet converters to bridge the gap between utility-specific infrastructure and Ethernet systems.

Once these hardware systems are in place, utility providers have to deploy software that allows them to manage, analyze and use the data delivered to them through the smart grid. This can be a complex and challenging process, but it is vital to using the technology effectively.

These utility-focused efforts are vital to smart grid success. However, delivering energy efficiency through the technology is dependent on being able to give consumers better control of their energy use.

Alex Laskey, president and cofounder of Opower, said the company's software solution is proving vital in giving consumers more control over their energy usage patterns.

"The Opower platform is the only scalable energy software for the utility industry that helps customers save energy and money," said Laskey. "We are excited to partner with EnergyAustralia in order to bring our platform to a retail energy provider that is committed to providing insight and energy efficiency savings to millions of customers. The MyEnergyReport program will help utility customers in Australia manage their energy consumption and learn ways to save."

Creating a holistic energy management program
The core benefit of the smart grid is giving everybody more control over energy distribution. Consumers can more intelligently monitor and manage their power use, while utilities can better control how much energy is generated to meet customer needs. Achieving this end result, however, is dependent on putting together all of the diverse hardware and software systems involved in the grid. Taking shortcuts in any one area can severely limit the effectiveness of smart grid investments.

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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