Across the U.S. Utilities Share Experiences from Smart Grid Deployments

chart with pen

Regional Peer-to-Peer Smart Grid Meeting

Smart grid technologies have the potential to transform the electric system by improving utility operations and giving customers information that can help them better manage their electricity use. However, before the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided stimulus funding for smart grid projects, there was very little data from actual smart grid deployments to back up those claims. Now, two years into over $4 billion in government-funded projects, best practices and real benefits are coming to light.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability has partnered with local utility companies to host Smart Grid Peer-to-Peer Workshops throughout the country.  These meetings provide vital support to smart grid implementers who are working to overcome challenges and make the Smart Grid a reality. The workshops also encourage collaborative dialogue and the sharing of real-world practices among utilities and others in the energy community that will help drive successful smart grid implementation nationwide.

To date, workshops have been hosted in the Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, Northwest, and Mid-Atlantic regions.  The discussions focused on consumer engagement strategies and technical implementation of smart grid technologies.  And while each region has unique characteristics and challenges, DOE has recognized some recurring themes:

  • Communicate and engage customers and community leaders early
  • Be prepared ot address customer concerns on sensitive issues
  • Opt-out provisions are an important component of smart meter deployment programs
  • Prepay is showing promise for low income customers
  • Establishing new technologies on varying antiquated systems is difficult
  • Data management and mining is a growing challenge
  • Employee education at all levels and in all areas of the organization is needed
  • Change is accelerating and success requires a clear strategy
  • Customers and communities are diverse and require solutions that are specific to their needs and preferences

By hosting these peer exchange workshops, DOE is encouraging ongoing dialogue and networking that will foster long-lasting relationships within the community of smart grid implementers, and thus help participants successfully start and execute smart grid projects. One utility noted at a recent workshop that some of the Smart Grid’s greatest value comes from its ability to simplify the customer’s interaction with a utility and the utility’s ability to provide immediate service to address customer needs. The dialogue and lessons learned from the peer-to-peer series will also help to inform DOE of ongoing challenges and issues.  See these meeting reports for additional information:

The peer-to-peer series is open to anyone who is working on smart grid technologies or is interested in adopting or deploying them, such as utilities, regulatory personnel, industry, academia, large energy users, state policy advisors, and consumer advocates.