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Advanced Energy

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

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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.

Breakfast Media LLC CEO Drew Clark has led the Broadband Breakfast community since 2008. An early proponent of better broadband, better lives, he initially founded the Broadband Census crowdsourcing campaign for broadband data. As Editor and Publisher, Clark presides over the leading media company advocating for higher-capacity internet everywhere through topical, timely and intelligent coverage. Clark also served as head of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a state broadband initiative.

Fiber

Fiber Helps Co-ops to Save on Electric Grid Usage, Saving Money

Fiber can connect city systems to make them more efficient.

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Photo of William Davidson of NextEra Infrastructure Solutions, Sachin Gupta of Centranet, William Graves of MidSouth Electric Cooperative, and Pete Hoffswell of Holland Board of Public Works (left to right)

ORLANDO, August 21, 2023 – Fiber networks can reduce operating costs for electric cooperatives as well as connect residents to the internet, said representatives of electric co-ops on a Fiber Connect panel Monday, claiming it is a good investment. 

Broadband networks allow co-ops to share data that keeps them more efficient on the electric grid, said William Graves, fiber optic network manager at MidSouth Electric Cooperative in Texas. 

High-speed broadband connectivity enables the smart grid, a network that allows for two-way communication between the utility and its customers, to ensure that electricity is being managed in the most efficient way, said Graves.  

Pete Hoffswell, superintendent of broadband services at Holland Board of Public Works in Michigan added that fiber can connect city systems – such as parking meters – to avoid backlog that occasionally occurs on less efficient networks.  

Smart infrastructure will be critical as demand for power increases as use-cases continue to grow for electric vehicle charging, smart home technologies, and more, said Hoffswell. He added that connectivity is more than just connecting renewable energy systems, it is now about building a smart city. 

“Smart cities are full of smart people, smart people want their cities to be smart,” he continued. Consumers will make more demands on network providers and this demand will change the way that the networks operate, he said.  

Hoffswell added that investor-owned utilities can cover a huge space in the co-op broadband space. Co-ops have the necessary capital for large broadband projects and are a good match for fiber, he said.   

William Davidson, director of strategic initiatives at NextEra Infrastructure Solutions in Florida, said that providing fiber services to customers provides incremental value to the cooperative. He added that cooperatives have the unique ability to be patient with long-term projects that take years to break even.

Some experts have touted electric co-ops as the ideal grantee for the $42.5 billion BEAD program – which funds are expected in 2024 – because they are well suited to build public owned networks that then can either be operated by the co-op or leased to private providers.  

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Advanced Energy

Greater Private Investments Will Supplement Federal Dollars Expended in Build America Initiative

Private investments need to support federal money going to infrastructure projects across the United States.

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Photo of Jigar Shah of the Department of Energy

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2023 – American investments in its domestic manufacturing must be accompanied by private investment and ambition, said the director of the Energy Department’s Loan Programs Office Jigar Shah a a Thursday event by nonprofit newsroom Canary Media. 

Currently, private companies are not interested in financing manufacturing loans in the U.S., said Shah. He urged the private industry to show more ambition by investing in infrastructure programs as federal investments come down the pipeline. 

Don’t miss the discussion of the connection between green energy, semiconductor manufacturing and infrastructure investment at Broadband Breakfast’s Made in America Summit on June 27.

The Build America Buy America Act, strengthened as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, requires that all iron, steel, manufactured products and construction materials used in federally funded projects to be produced in the U.S.

Additionally, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 which invests $400 billion in federal funding to clean energy and the CHIPS and Science Act which invests $280 billion into U.S. domestic semiconductor manufacturing. Semiconductors are the microprocessors that power all electronic applications. 

These investments, paired with the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which invests in various American infrastructure projects, play a central role in the administration’s strategy to revitalize the American industry. They invest in a more sustainable, consistent, and dependable supply chain for the U.S. economy, said Shah. 

Investing in American manufacturing will increase investor confidence that the U.S. is capable of large manufacturing projects, he added. 

By passing these acts, Congress has moved forward to improve American manufacturing, said Shah. It is now up to private industry to make the most of these investments and reinvent themselves to improve American global competitiveness. 

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Advanced Energy

Debt Ceiling Law Doesn’t Change Administration Priorities on Semiconductors, Advanced Energy and Broadband

With government action, America can reindustrialize itself, bolster national security, revive left-behind places and reduce carbon emissions.

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WASHINGTON, June 2, 2023 — Perhaps the greatest surprise of the debt ceiling deal passed Thursday night by the Senate (and on Wednesday by the House) is that it leaves unscathed the Biden administration’s three top domestic priorities: the Inflation Reduction Act (August 2022), semiconductor promotion in the CHIPS and Science Act (July 2022), and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (November 2021).

Together, these measures will invest more than $2 trillion of federal funds into American manufacturing, infrastructure (including broadband) and advanced energy.

REGISTER FOR THE MADE IN AMERICA SUMMIT

As Broadband Breakfast’s Made in America Summit takes shape, we encourage you to register now to attend this important event on Tuesday, June 27, in Washington. The summit’s four sessions will explore the intersection of these vital big-picture topics:

  • (R)e-building Energy and Internet Infrastructure
  • Semiconductor Manufacturing and U.S.-Chinese Tech Race
  • Challenges to Reorienting America’s Supply Chain
  • Making Cleaner Energy and Enhancing Green Industry

The Inflation Reduction Act invests billions of dollars in clean energy projects that work to limit carbon emissions and other pollutants, including solar, wind, nuclear, clean hydrogen and more. But will its investments in clean energy founder on the lack of infrastructure deployment, or by delays in federal, state and local permitting? This session will also consider the intersection of “smart grid” infrastructure, long-haul and local, and the synchronicities between the broadband and energy economies.

• Lori Bird, U.S. Energy Program Director and Polsky Chair for Renewable Energy, World Resources Institute
• Xan Fishman, Director of Energy Policy and Carbon Management, Bipartisan Policy Center
• Quindi Franco, Assistant Director, Government Accountability Office
• Robert Glicksman, Professor of Environmental Law, George Washington University Law School
Other panelists have been invited

The CHIPS and Science Act provides $280 billion in funding to spur semiconductor research and manufacturing in the United States. Semiconductors are key components of consumer electronics, military systems and countless other applications, making a domestic supply chain critically important — particularly amid an increasingly hostile technological race with China. How successful will efforts be to bring semiconductor manufacturing to America?

• Gene Irisari, Head of Semiconductor Policy, Samsung
• Shawn Muma, Director of Supply Chain Innovation & Emerging Technologies, Digital Supply Chain Institute
• Maryam Rofougaran, CEO and Co-Founder, Movandi Corporation
• Rishi Iyengar (moderator), Global Technology Reporter, Foreign Policy
Other panelists have been invited

The Build America Buy America Act, part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, established a domestic content procurement preference for all federally subsidized infrastructure projects. Although waivers of Buy America requirements have been proposed for certain projects — such as Middle Mile Grant Program recipients — it appears unlikely that these will be extended to initiatives such as the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, despite requests and warnings from industry leaders. Although fiber-optic cable production is on the rise, significant issues remain in America’s semiconductor and electronic equipment supply. How will these issues be addressed in broadband and other infrastructure projects?

 Panelists to be announced

The Inflation Reduction Act establishes requirements for the use of American-made equipment in clean energy production. How will those requirements impact green energy development? How will the resulting projects interact with other ongoing infrastructure initiatives? What will it take for America to establish itself as a clean energy superpower?

 Panelists to be announced

Early-bird registration of $199 until Friday, June 9 + government and Broadband Breakfast Club rate.

Check back frequently to see updates on the Made in America Summit event page.

REGISTER FOR THE MADE IN AMERICA SUMMIT

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