When it comes to modernizing the nation’s vast electrical grid, the discussion often centers around hardware and technology: How much can “smart meters” save us? What problems can a common communications platform prevent? How do we integrate wind and solar options?
But one of the most basic challenges has little to do with technology and a lot to do with the process used to upgrade. A case in point is Phoenix’s SRP power district, which recently integrated a substation’s collection of intelligent electronic devices (IEDs). Results there suggest that successful grid modernization depends in part on modernizing the processes used to identify project requirements. And, thanks to concepts promoted by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) IntelliGrid program, companies like SRP are learning a new way to establish requirements by implementing a strategy developed for other industries: use cases. This new approach initially takes more time and money but in the long run may reduce costs as much as 20%.