/>
X
Business

IT standards needed to make smart grid data really smart

Advanced meter reading is all fine and good, but it is what the utility does with that data once it is collected that really matters. And if that data is collected in a different way for every different smart meters that's sitting out on the smart grid, that analysis will be harder and harder to perform.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

Advanced meter reading is all fine and good, but it is what the utility does with that data once it is collected that really matters. And if that data is collected in a different way for every different smart meters that's sitting out on the smart grid, that analysis will be harder and harder to perform. Standards are also the thing that make the idea of a distributed smart grid, with energy sources from many different locations and suppliers, the hardest thing to support.

I really had not through the implications of that notion until I was contacted by some representatives of Informatica, the enterprise integration technology company. Mind you, I KNOW that Informatica is obviously very self-interested in this particular topic. I'm not blind to that. But it definitely is something to be concerned about.

Jay Aubby, a smart metering expert for Informatica, relates the story of a British utility company that kept sending bills to an address, only to see them unpaid for months. When the company visited the location, it discovered the building was gone, but the meter hadn't been dismantled. Whoops! A great illustration of why being connected is important.

Aubby says that standards will be especially important for two big reasons: First, in deregulated marks, it will allow for better seamless switching between suppliers. And second, for the development of the microgrid made up of distributed energy sources. It's not just connecting to the grid, it's properly measuring the new supply that is a challenge, he says. "Do the utility companies really know what they are doing?"

The biggest challenge to this is the fact that many utility companies are supporting IT infrastructures and data analysis systems that are 20-plus-years old, which makes it harder to develop a common definitely of data that is interoperable. Until the utilities get on the ball and begin to update this infrastructure, supporting a truly smart smart grid will be very difficult indeed.

Editorial standards