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Broadband Breakfast Club Video on Smart Grid Initiative Plays Up Fiber and Wireless Role for Advanced Energy

in Advanced Energy/Broadband TV/FCC/Fiber/Gigabit Networks/NTIA/Privacy/Rural Utilities Service/Smart Grid/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2013 – The status of the development of the national smart grid and its relationship to broadband buildouts was the center of discussion at the June 2013 Broadband Breakfast Club.

The concept of smart grid is a marriage of intelligence and communications, said David Wollman, Deputy Director of the Smart Grid and Cyberphysical Systems Program Office in the Engineering Laboratory of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in his keynote speech.

He discussed NIST’s role in leading the development of smart grid interoperability standards and protocols, as well its charge to help develop a roadmap and advanced energy systems advancements toward a national smart grid rollout.

The event was entitled, “Advanced Energy, Smart Grid and Fiber to the Home: Using Advanced Energy to Jumpstart Fiber Builds.” (Story continues below the videos.)

Event Highlights

Complete Program

Stemming from a Presidential Directive and the Energy Information and Sustainability Act of 2007, the Department of Energy is the lead smart grid office, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is the overall industry convener, and NIST was tasked with the role of smart grid standards, protocols and systems development, Wollman said.

NIST is working to mesh standards and protocols for technologies already in place in the utility and telecom systems, as well as to develop new standards and protocols for interface in the home. Woolman also spoke about broadband fiber as a gateway to the home, replacing traditional electricity meters.

Consumers can be engaged to take advantage of the high-bandwidth capability that broadband offers through efforts like the Green Button Initiative. In it, utilities collect data on energy usage, consumption and performance on a continuous basis. Building managers can click and download the data. This could enable new services that account for energy usage patterns, such as home security systems.

In the panel discussion that followed, John Hewa, Vice President of Technology and Research at the National Rural and Electric Cooperative Association, said that utility cooperatives are taking an active role in the smart grid rollout. Co-ops are already pushing beyond simple smart meters and addressing in-utility facility advancements toward energy conservation with regard to conductors, feeder switches and other technologies that interface, shape and reduce load.

By contrast, James Salter, CEO of Atlantic Engineering, said utilities’ focus has been on wireless solutions for smart grid applications. That, he said, misses the key benefit: the ability to take advantage of changing consumer demand for energy. The current low cost of electricity disincentivizes companies, and consumers, to push for new “demand-response” applications concerning energy usage.

C. David Hudgins, President of Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, said today is just the beginning of the smart grid revolution. He referred to the slow pace of change as the fact that the industry is still operating on “utility time.”

Additionally, Hudgins highlighted a growing movement in Virginia to reject smart meters as privacy invasions. A recent before the Virginia General Assembly would have shifted the burden for consumers to “opt-in” to obtaining a smart meter, instead of “opting out” of receiving such a meter. Although the measure was defeated, Hudgins said the battle set back adoption of the smart grid.

Malcolm Woolf, Vice President of Government Relations for Advanced Energy Economy, agreed that we are at the tip of the iceberg for both advanced energy and smart grid.

The old utility-based model of centralized electricity generalization is under assault by a whole array of disruptive technologies, including demand response, distributive generation, electric vehicle charging, and many forms of consumer engagement providing an array of services. Woolf’s organization, Advanced Energy Economy, aims to bring players together to develop the disruptive technologies and that will drive the smart grid.

Hewa said that rural electric utilities have thousands of smart grid projects involving “demand response,” together with safety, reliability, and consumer convenience implications showing that electric co-ops are “innovating at the pace of value.”

In describing his cooperative’s work on broadband build out, Hudgins described how Old Dominion has worked hard to turn around southern Virginia’s economic decline by effecting hundreds of millions of dollars in fiber-optics in the ground: that every school, community college, training center etc. has a fiber connection. That has helped to attract a Microsoft data center, among other businesses.

Salter said that some municipalities have been able to amortize the cost of fiber build outs through electric system improvements. He noted that utilities’ investment – just to bring electricity to the home – is at $12,500 per home, versus the cost of a fiber build out of up to $2,500 per home. The savings that could be realized through cutting costs for electricity generation would pay for the cost of bringing fiber to ever home, said Salter.

Woolf said that all of these issues and challenges show that we are in the early stages of this smart grid evolution. Although meters have been adopted quickly as a means of reducing response times in the case of outages, to truly capture the value of the smart grid, he said, real-time pricing will be necessary to incentivize consumers to conserve.

Utilities’ Economies of Scale for Broadband Fiber + Smart Grid Applications = Ultra-Fast Broadband Everywhere?

in Advanced Energy/Expert Opinion/Public Safety/Smart Grid/Wireless by

June 17, 2013 – The smart grid and broadband go together like mashed potatoes and gravy. And yet why is it so hard to get electric utilities and broadband experts to dialogue on the role that electric companies can play in expanding super-fast broadband?

Tomorrow’s June 2013 Broadband Breakfast Club, on Advanced Energy, Smart Grid & Fiber to the Home: Using Advanced Energy to Jumpstart Fiber Builds,” is at least a step in the right direction.

Tomorrow’s event brings the debate about broadband and the smart grid together in an exciting and new way. While advanced energy is predicted to be an opportunity greater than the internet economy to date — and fast, reliable broadband will be a key feature of advanced energy implementation and distribution through smart grid systems. Yet, while smart grid networks of various complexity exist, new networks are limited by the short supply of fiber build outs. The event will be moderated by Sylvia Syracuse, Director of Marketing and Events at the Broadband Breakfast Club.

Think of these questions, which tomorrow’s discussion aims to tackle head-on:

1. Where are we in the development of the national-level smart grid?
2. What are the barriers to implementing this broadband-enabled smart grid?
3. What is or what will be the utilities role in building this smart grid?

Central to these questions will be David Wollman, Deputy Director on Smart Grid and Cyberphysical Systems Program Office in the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Wollman, our keynote speaker at Tuesday’s event, leads efforts to coordinate and accelerate the development of smart grid interoperatbility — and research to enable new smart grid advances.

Equally important in getting these answers will be the role of the electric utilities — both the investor-owned utilities, and the electronic co-ops. Tomorrow’s panel event will feature John Hewa of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and C. David Hudgins, of the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative. Also addressing the subject will be Malcolm Woolf at the Advanced Energy Economy.

One key insight that Broadband Breakfast Club hopes to emerge from tomorrow’s event comes from a presentation made several months ago, at David Isenberg’s Freedom to Connect conference in Washington, by James Salter, CEO of Atlantic Engineering Group.

Salter’s core idea is that the United States is 15 percent built with fiber to the home. Salter thinks that the U.S. should be 100 percent fiber — and that electric utilities should build, or at least partner, in the remaining 85 percent.

Salter — whose Freedom to Connect Power Point is available here — believes that smart grid-related applications are the killer app for big broadband deployment. But there are three obstacles that he identifies:

1. They don’t have any regulatory incentive to do real SmartGrid – they get a return for a new coal plant, they don’t get a return for technologies that avoid a new coal plant – We must change politics of regulation.

2. They don’t believe you need big data requirements to do SmartGrid – We must show them they are shortsighted
– Ask Chattanooga

3. They don’t want to be in the retail telecom business and they don’t want to partner with anybody – We must convince them that cyber security and common infrastructure aren’t mutually exclusive.

Salter lays down a powerful challenge to the electric utilities. Register to attend Tuesday’s Broadband Breakfast Club to see how and whether advanced energy and the smart grid can help jumpstart more fiber builds.

Broadband-Enhanced ‘Smart Grid’ Provides Energy Savings and Enhanced Economic Development

in Fiber/Gigabit Networks/Smart Grid by

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2013 – High-speed broadband is the key to optimizing energy usage, said Graham Richard, CEO of Advanced Energy Economy, at Thursday keynote speak at the annual Better Buildings Summit sponsored by the United States Department of Energy.

Richard, the former mayor of Ft. Wayne, Indiana, described the advanced energy industry as a highly meaningful economic opportunity, noting growth rates that dwarf those of many other industries. The intersection of energy with the internet appears to be especially promising.

“Some have predicted that this opportunity is greater than the opportunity of the internet economy to date,” Richard said.

Richard recognized a number of cities that have carried out successful programs to optimize energy efficiency, with EPB Fiber Optics of Chattanooga, Tennessee, among the most successful.

Chattanooga created a “smart grid” system utilizing an ultra-high-speed gigabit-per-second broadband network consisting of thousands of smart switches and meters. Among many other functions, the network allows them to reroute power almost instantaneously when power lines go down.

Richard cited the case of a particularly severe outage during which power was restored within six minutes. Authorities estimated that they would have taken about four hours to restore power under the previous system.

Such functions have clear economic benefits, he said. Businesses are no longer hindered by significant power outages. Additionally, the smart grid system has reduced electricity rates for consumers.

Richard also emphasized the importance of collaborating with the private sector in establishing more energy efficient cities. He noted how useful private investments could be in building green energy infrastructure.

Such relationships are mutually beneficial In that the local economy benefits from green energy in the form of greater employment, reduced environmental impact, lower energy use, and business growth.

During the eight years that Richard served as mayor of Fort Wayne, he implemented a number of programs to save energy and create jobs, and he was named Government Leader of the Year by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

The Better Building Summit, subtitled “Unlocking the Clean Economy,” aims to provide resources for state and local leaders to implement more energy efficient policies in their communities. The event included speeches and panel discussions of various strategies for implementation.

According to Richard, integration of the internet is crucial for such implementation and has the potential to bring about significant improvement in energy.

“The world will run on secure, clean, affordable energy,” he said.

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