A recent report by Zion Research found that the utility segment dominated the global IoT security market with nearly 38 percent of the market share in 2014.That number is expected to rise dramatically by 2020. However, for electric utility companies, historically lagging in adapting to cutting edge IT/OT practices, are today deploying advanced automation and sensor networks to better track energy use during peak and off-peak hours.
As these companies track usage, consumers are growing equally cognizant of individual energy use as well, especially with the growth of private alternative energy practices such as home solar panels or wind power. The practice of selling privately generated energy back to the smart grid is in its infancy, but consumers now expect device connectivity to track, say, the amount of energy used by lights or the refrigerator during nighttime, off-peak hours. Because of that, the onus lies on utility companies to gather data and deploy advanced analytics that can be translated into relevant information for the average user.
So, if we are moving full speed ahead to a comprehensive smart grid with IoT technology, then it makes sense to ensure that devices are able to communicate and integrate with legacy systems. For example, the UK has followed the US in opening their first laboratory to make sure the next generation of electric vehicles and smart grids are fully interoperable.
While aligning technology is a priority, some experts are saying that the focus should also be on energy efficiency. For example, South Africa’s utility companies are being taxed with energy demands, especially during peak times of day. The energy demands of this country are pushing the smart grid, smart building energy saving concepts to the forefront, as a means to end the struggle. A recent study by the American Energy Indicator finds 44 percent of energy executives believe smart buildings will be one of the top three cost-cutting improvement options over the next ten years.
The MIT Technology Review started this week’s electric utilities news off with a suggestion to end the hodgepodge U.S. utility and move towards a single energy provider. Then, we took a closer look at a need for a plan B to solve the draining energy crisis. A little later in the week, a story came about that questioned the cybersecurity practices in the utilities industry. Next up, Los Angeles grabbed our attention with the new $12 million plan to update utilities in the area. Then, we learned that drones will soon conduct routine monitoring of power lines and substations. Finally, Katherine Tweed draws and interesting distinction between investor-owned utilities and cooperatives, and which side will drive the future of smart meter adoption for data collection.
Hope you enjoy this week’s reading. As always, tell us what we missed!
Why the Hodgepodge US Utility Industry Needs a Ma Bell (MIT Technology Review)
In some ways it appears that it would be easier if there could be one ubiquitous energy provider that could be sliced and diced any way the regulators and politicians would like. Richard Martin with the MIT Technology Review believes that, “The U.S. utility industry is a hodgepodge of publicly traded producers, investor-owned utilities, coöperatives, and publicly owned municipal utilities.”
A Plan B for Every Monopoly Electric Utility? (PVSolarReport)
Energy companies are faced with the challenge of how to meet the demands of the draining energy users with the technical troubles they encounter blending their electrical process with the new grid guidelines. Time for plan B. PVSolarReport find that, “Most utility companies aren’t prepared to embrace the transformative opportunity to democratize the electricity system, whether due to inertia, conservative culture, or perceived conflicts with their profit-maximizing mission.”
Cybersec guidelines for electric utilities get it mostly right (intelligentutility.com)
Jonathan Sander recently reviewed the NIST Cyber-security Practice Guide and suggests that, “There is one area that doesn’t get a full treatment and one glaring omission, though. Multi-factor authentication should have played a much larger role, and there is no guidance on how to deal with privileged identities and their impact on security.”
Edison will spend $12 billion on electric system over next three years (LA Times)
Not everyone is on board with the $12 billion dollar plan Edison has designed, but the detailed plan is set to give the electric grid a modern upgrade in order to improve the quality of service offered to the customers. Ted Craver, chief executive of parent company Edison International has said that, “Most of the yearly $4 billion will be spent on upgrading electric poles, transformers, wires and cables. Roughly $240 million a year, or about 6%, will go toward new power generation.”
PPL Electric Utilities Among First to Use Drones to Assist in Line Inspections (T&D World)
More than 48,000 miles of power lines and 400 substations will soon have routine line inspections manned by drones. T & D Magazine states that, “The utility has made great strides in increasing reliability for its customers, improving 20 percent since 2007. Another 20 percent improvement is being eyed in the coming five years and the drones will play a role in helping us get there.”
What Will Drive Investment in the Next 60 Million Smart Meters? (Greentech Media)
To-date, large, investor-owned utilities have driven the installation of AMI technology, but Greentech Media found that it is actually the smaller cooperatives that “are leading smart meter deployments in the U.S.” Transformative at the time, one-way AMR technology is slowly being phased out in favor of two-way smart meters that can provide data for both regulators and customers. What does the future hold for smart meter technology?