Community News and Information
Updated: 6 hours 57 min ago
The energy industry has worked hard to come up with innovative ways to find qualified talent to step in as its aging workforce retires. The University of Maryland, with help from the Energy Department and other federal agencies, now offers an online course to help veterans get started on careers in engineering design.
News accounts of utilities removing Sensus smart meters because of fire concerns have continued, despite the apparent lack of evidence the company’s meters were responsible for any of the fires reported. The company’s new generation of smart meters, which includes high temperature detection technology and other safety features, may help it clear this latest hurdle.
This week’s smart grid wins roundup covers a lot of ground, from EV charging and Volt/VAR optimization to solar and a managed smart metering partnership in India. It also covers new funding for smart grid and related technologies and Echelon’s agreement to sell its smart grid business.
While demand for more distributed energy resources is growing, today’s pricing structures provide little incentive to deploy them where they will do the most good. Click to read one approach to incrementally transition to a more sophisticated pricing system that would better reflect real costs and benefits, and some specific options for pricing.
It’s always a good idea to keep track of how the varied energy industry markets are performing. It does take time, though. That’s where our smart grid market reports roundup comes in handy. Read the brief summaries and click on the links for more details.
It may seem unusual to say electric and water utilities should work together. They provide entirely different services and aren’t managed or regulated the same, so what’s the point? But the two are interdependent as the historic California drought makes very clear and, as an Environmental Defense Fund post points out, collaboration is inevitable… even though there are initial challenges to be worked out.
Electric utilities are getting some flak from consumer groups for asking customers to help pay the cost of electric vehicle charging stations, even though many of those customers won’t be using them. Now would be the perfect time for utilities to explain to customers and regulators how valuable EV charging stations are when it comes to managing intermittent renewable energy.
Testing new technologies in a realistic setting is obviously the best way to ensure they will function properly at actual load levels, before they're integrated into the power grid. Click to learn about a distributed energy resources test bed developed by two national labs and how it will benefit both utilities and equipment manufacturers.
Microgrids have emerged as yet another hot topic as more and more cities and campuses adopt them to ensure continuous power during outages. And that conversation is a pretty good indicator that utilities should be getting ready for microgrids before they hit prime time.
This week’s smart grid wins feature includes what could almost be considered a bit of everything. Read about a variety of smart grid companies and projects ranging from solar and smart water to transmission and energy efficiency. And don’t miss the awards for AutoGrid Systems and Silver Spring Networks.
Sensus has unveiled a new contribution to smart grid technology: its new Generation 4 smart meters. As company president Randy Bays put it, the goal was to develop a meter capable of improving operational efficiency for customers, utilities and cities alike. Click to learn more about the new offering.
Boulder, Colorado’s attempts to divorce Xcel Energy and set up its own municipal electric utility just took another turn in what is already a convoluted story. Xcel asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission earlier this week to rule that the city can’t condemn the transmission line that surrounds it without the agency’s permission.
As the cost of distributed wind and solar power generation drop, costs for fossil fuel and nuclear continue to increase. While the intermittent nature of those renewables presents challenges for many utilities integrating them, the growth rate of those power sources in many countries may surprise you… particularly in developing nations.
As utilities roll out new technologies, they sometimes find problems after the initial installations. That mistake can be costly and the negative publicity damaging. Guest contributor Angus Panton offers guidance to help utilities ensure that doesn’t happen: advance testing methods that can spot problems in meters and other devices before they’re delivered to customers.
The California Public Utilities Commission is rewriting requirements for how utilities value distributed energy resources. Guest author Tom Osterhus says the changes will bring new value opportunities, but will be dangerous for utilities that fail to adapt. Click to read his explanation of what those changes will look like and what their impact will likely be.
Mergers and acquisitions are nothing new in the smart grid sector, and equity analyst Louis Basenese expects the trend to continue. Why? Against the background of an aging electric grid, the big companies understand innovation is crucial and that cutting edge companies have it. Read on to learn why he believes two pioneering companies could be in their sights.
New technologies are frequently viewed with suspicion in the utility industry. Consider the developing “connected home” market as an example. Guest contributor Angus Panton makes the case that the new market offers substantial growth opportunities for utilities… as long as they attend to four key issues early on.
One view of the future for electric grids and utilities is a scenario that includes two types of distribution utilities, one responsible for maintaining grid operations and another that will sell energy services. Click to read an explanation of one increasingly popular concept of the new utility model: “distribution service operators.”
A new report says Europe’s centralized fossil-fuel power plants could be obsolete very soon as a direct result of solar power, energy storage and electric vehicles. And the 2020 tipping point date? That’s when investment bank UBS believes the payback period for a rooftop solar system will be attractively short and batteries much less expensive.
Smart grid companies are always coming up with new tech products and services and enhancements to existing products. We thought it was time to take a look at what they’ve been up to, so click to read about new offerings from ABB, Belden, GE, Leidos and other companies.