IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2014 - 53

Perspectives
on Smart
Grid Development

Furthermore-and given the fact that each group has traditionally been exposed to certain vendors and technology providers for its respective silo-each constituency tends to
regard the technologies and solutions offered by those vendors as the answer to much larger,
systemwide problems. and in the utility environment, these problems by default transcend
the confines of a single silo.
the situation is further complicated by the diversity of views, interests, and approaches
advocated by vendors and technology providers in the field. influenced (and constrained) by
its core competencies and technologies, each vendor defines the problems, and therefore the
solutions, in the way that best suits its own technologies and products. one should therefore
not be surprised to hear different suppliers put different spins on basic concepts such as distribution automation, demand response, and so on. the irony is that they are mostly sincere
in what they are advocating. the issue is whether any of their prescriptions is the Holy grail
needed to solve the utility's smart grid integration puzzle. this seems to be a reenactment
of rumi's story of the blind men and the elephant. each person has his own understanding
of what the creature is based on what part he has managed to touch. the absence of sight
(or light) has convinced each and every one of the righteousness of his version of the truth,
ignoring the fact that the smart grid's systemwide issues require all its constituent parts
to work together and implement a collective strategy for doing what needs to be done. in
rumi's words, "if each of us held a candle there, and if we went in together, we could see it."

Smart Grid Development
Utilities in north america have had their fair share of challenges in taking the first step on
their path to full implementation of the smart grid, namely, large rollouts of smart metering
across their distribution circuits. the reaction of the public to the push by utility companies
to implement smart metering took many in the industry by surprise. in addition to open
calls by consumer associations to do away with the idea, many jurisdictions saw the introduction of symbolic resolutions, passed by county and municipal councils, banning smart
meter installation. in response to this backlash from customers, many north american
utilities have had to either slow down smart metering rollouts or devise opt-out programs
while investing in information campaigns to reach and influence their customers.
despite the specific form that the consumer backlash took (e.g., concern about the health
effects of rF radiation, the privacy and security of customer data, or an imminent rise
in the cost of energy), one could see that such concerns were primarily attributed to an
absence of buy-in for this new technology on the part of utility customers.
what is interesting is that very few, if any, utilities have attempted to answer the more
fundamental question of why their customers should embrace this new technology with
open arms. what will make customers want to be willing participants in this process?
would smart meters reduce utility bills? would it provide customers with more reliable
may/june 2014

ieee power & energy magazine

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2014

IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2014 - Cover1
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2014 - Cover2
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2014 - 1
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2014 - Cover3
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2014 - Cover4
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