Beyond the smart grid

Tom Nolle/CIMI Corp.
13 Apr 2011

Few of the people excited about the concept of the smart grid have a real idea of why they should be excited or how the concept could be beneficial to them. Even fewer are likely to understand how smart grid roles for consumers and businesses might intersect with telecom services and opportunities.

But network operators are looking at the related facilities monitoring market -- and they're finding revenue potential in facilities monitoring as a service.

The basic idea of a smart grid is to create a feedback loop between points of consumption for a device or appliance and its production/distribution network.

A smart grid could allow power companies to match their distributed capacity to the load, as well as control appliances or equipment to reduce the total load during periods when the distribution system is under stress.

Access to this kind of feedback loop could reduce blackouts and brownouts, and increased efficiency could improve power company economics and control utility prices.

With smart grid-enabled facilities monitoring, consumers and businesses could expect price breaks on their bills in return for granting operators permission to intervene and cut appliances or devices off during periods of systemic stress.

This means that there would need to be a mechanism for device control in each home, business, industrial facility or anywhere else power is consumed. It also demands that all power-consuming facilities be monitored for usage.

Monitoring is the function of creating network alerts from sensor conditions of any sort. That makes it a good application to offer both consumers and businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized businesses.

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