The Infosys Utilities Blog seeks to discuss and answer the industry’s burning Smart Grid questions through the commentary of the industry’s leading Smart Grid and Sustainability experts. This blogging community offers a rich source of fresh new ideas on the planning, design and implementation of solutions for the utility industry of tomorrow.

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January 29, 2011

Preparing for DistribuTECH 2011- Weekly Wrap-Up 2

As we put the last minute preparations for DistribuTECH, we would like to introduce you to our live blogger for DistribuTECH 2011.

Devendra Vishwakarma will keep you informed on the activities surrounding DistribuTECH, from informative sessions to conference discussions. Devendra has over 10 years of experience in Transmission and Distribution (T&D) automation product development and project engineering. He specializes in Smart Grid solutions, demand response, Distribution Management System (DMS), Outage Management System (OMS), and wholesale market operations.

Also, make sure to come by the Infosys booth, we have fantastic giveaways:

  • Get your conference passes stamped at our booth to win a 2011 Dodge Challenger in the conference-wide CAR GIVEAWAY! When your card has been stamped at all participating booths, it will be entered into a drawing for the car on the last day. 
  • Pick up a Starbucks vouchers (worth a free coffee only in the convention center)

See you at DistribuTECH 2011!

January 20, 2011

Preparing for Distributech 2011-Weekly Wrap-up

Welcome back to the Smart Utilities Blog! As Infosys prepares for DistribuTECH 2011, we will continue to showcase our thoughts, opinions and industry insights as they relate to Smart Grid, the Transmission and Distribution ecosystem and the utilities industry as a whole. I will be serving as a the community moderator up to the February 1 start date for Distributech and then our team of live bloggers will take over.

At DistribuTECH, Infosys will showcase our diverse portfolio of solutions for Smart Grid, including Infosys Smart Integrator, Infosys Demand Side Management and Infosys Smart Customer Portal. Follow the links to get additional information and drop by our booth to see the demo first hand.

Weekly Wrap-up:
Smart Grid Security:Tarun discussed the concept that we are at a crossroad for Smart Grid. We will be highlighting our security experience as well our growing network of security partnerships at our booth.

Price Sensitive Residential Demand Response: In Devendra's blog on Price Senstitivity of Demand Respons he illustrates the hurdles in implementation of demand respond in the residential environment. Infosys has signficant experience in orchestrating demand response programs and can showcase how both Infosys Smart Customer Portal and Infosys Smart Integrator allow utilities to roll our faster, manage more effficiently and maximum their return on investment with demand response programs.

Keep following our blogs throughout the week as our community of subject matter experts post thoughts and opinions that will most certainly be driving Distributech 2011.

Ben Edelbrock

January 17, 2011

Smart Grid Security - Is it a myth or a reality?

It is really amazing to see how sensitive we have suddenly become to the subject of "Grid Security". As I write this blog, somebody, somewhere is busy strategizing the Security plan or defining the Security standard. There are countless forums, seminars and meetings happening everyday on a single agenda i.e. how to make the Grid more secured.

For a moment, just think of the factors that have contributed to such sudden awakening. What has changed in the more than 100 years old Grid Infrastructure that threatens the security aspects so badly. Well, the experts say, the Grid is becoming more and more communication enabled with smart sensors all over the grid infrastructure, hence increasing the security vulnerability.

But the food for thought here is, was there ever any threat to the Grid Security, before the concepts like "Smart Grid", "Smart Sensors", "Bi-Directional information flow", "Intelligent Network" etc., were not ideated.

If the answer to the above question is a "Yes" then we have a much broader approach to take rather than just focusing on the "Smart" aspect of the Grid. How about focusing first on the process and people first. And then taking a need based customized approach to secure the impacted systems and technology.

If the answer to the question is a "No" then we have to be really careful in making sure other key Smart Grid objectives such as "Improved Power Reliability & Predictability", "Improved Customer Satisfaction" and "Improved operational/delivery efficiencies" are not compromised for the sake of making the Grid more secured with Smart Sensors installed over a highly intelligent network.

I would welcome your feedback on the thought irrespective of whether you think that the Smart Grid Security is a myth or a reality.

January 12, 2011

Price Sensitive Residential Demand Response : Reality check

Demand Response is termed as one of the killer application in Smart Grid roadmaps. The hope is that with penetration of smart appliances, HAN and Smart meters the customers will start participating in the grid operations by dynamically adjusting their pattern of energy usage based on the grid conditions. One of the argument is that residential customers will receive real-time price signal and will bid in to the price sensitive demand response programs. But how much of that is going to be reality. I would say it is a long shot. The price sensitive demand response in the residential customer segment may take a while before it becomes reality. There are several roadblocks, to name few:

  • With incresed use of energy efficient appliances the consumption will go down and the amount of incentive to participate in the demand response programs may not be lucrative to residential customers.
  • In order to make price sensitive demand response lucrative to the residential customers, there needs to be change in the tariff structure which will have to follow the real-time energy prices in order to make an positive impact on the grid operations.
  • The network infrastructure needs to support the communication of the price and DR signals to thousands of residential customers (customers who are enrolled in to the DR programs), which may overlaod the grid communications networks. One of the option talked about is the AMI communication network but more and more AMI networks becoming operational the industry is seeing actual problems with the already stressed out AMI communication infrastructure. DR being the mission critical application the network latency can not be ignored.
  • Secuirty is another biggest issue with price sensitive residential demand response programs because unline commercial and industrial DR customers who can afford to invest in the secure Building Energy management systems, expecting residential customers to have same level of awareness and security in place is not fair.

Then there are technical challenges in terms of real-time DR load monitoring and the maturity of protocols for the price sensitive demand response which can cater to the bandwidth needs for the residential DR. Network latency I already mentioned. Then there will be optimization problems with respect to dynamic load behaviour where the entire supply chain from generation to transmission to distribution to customer participation will have to be optimized.

 

In conclusion I would like to say that the concept is good and very promising but it will take a while before we start seeing price senstive demand response in reality in the residential customer segment.

January 6, 2011

Smart Grid - Changing the Utility's way of looking at data

"Keeping the Lights On" - A very known term in Utilities. Traditionally, Utilities have been successfully managing to provide power to the customers and charging the customers for the usage. A lot of operational activities goes behind this strive for "Keeping the Lights On". Not to mention about the complex meter-to-cash process. But, were utilities ever in such a situation where they had to think - "So much data. What would I do with this? How do I intelligently use this?" There comes the need to look at the data differently and convert the data into information - a food for smarter decisions. Transition from looking at a monthly billing read to granular interval data, events, voltage, current and host of other data coming from meters is not a small task. But, even bigger is the task to process the data. Technologies today do provide the tools to not only look at the information, but also act. Scenarios like outage management, tamper detection, power quality monitoring, fault analysis and prediction, peak demand monitoring and actionizing at ways to react to peak demands - load control, powering on alternate generation sources, etc have been possible and utilities are implementing some or all of these. How? Answer is - Changing the Utility's way of looking at data

Smart Grid : Are your customers ready?

Smart Grid is a major transformation where utilities are revamping infrastructure, bringing automation and increasing reliability. This transformation is leading towards redefinition of business processes to achieve maximum operational benefits which have direct or indirect impact to the customers.

 Utilities try to  :

• Improve existing customer service programs
• Offer new customer service programs
• Introduce new rate plans
• Enable energy efficiency, demand side management or demand response programs 
• Improvement in outage notifications and restorations  
• ...etc

But, are customers ready to walk along with you? If customers are not "active" then it will have major impact in realization of smart grid benefits. Customers are major" influential" actor and can negatively impact you in various ways such as:

• New service offerings will be successful only when customers pay attention & it look attractive to them
• New rate plans offerings or change in tariff need customers buy-in
• Success  of energy efficiency programs depend up on customer's effective participation
• Demand forecasting will be unrealistic if customers behavior are untrendy
• Various AMI pilots & programs (such as Smart Meter, Home Area Network) need customers interest & active participations

In conclusion, smart grid has more "social" impact than operational. Customers are key actors who have influence to slow down the smart grid journey. They need to be "consulted" and "integrated" each & every step rather than approaching at last stage.