Life may move at a slower pace here in Richmond as we sip our mint juleps and leisurely discuss the finer points of the local cuisine. However, we are not as behind the times as our northern cousins are lead to believe; with the added benefit of being able to go to and fro without the grinding delays of Northern Virginia traffic.
Honestly, I’ve never had a mint julep but I did have the opportunity to attend a panel on Smart Grids hosted by the Association of Information Technology Professional (AITP) earlier in April; an example of our enlightened technological state.
The panel consisted several local luminaries of the Smart Grid scene, so some brief introductions are in order. Scott Muench of Tridium was on hand. Mr. Muech is a Senior Applications Engineer and Smart Grid Evangelist who has a passion about Smart Homes. Another was Dan Hermes, President and General Manager of Grid 2020. Mr. Hermes’ firm promotes energy management systems from residential and electrical utilities customers. Engagement Director for OPower, Rick Juneja, came to discuss his companies approach to energy efficiency and smart grid software. Dominion’s CIO, Lyn McDermid was in attendance. Dominion is one the of the nation’s leading utilities companies.
There were several themes that were covered by the panel. One was to discuss the rise of Smart Grid technologies and their impact on the consumer. These impacts could take the form of privacy concerns, regulatory mandates, security risks and technological hurdles. Second, what would the increase in Smart Grid adoption mean for Information technology professionals? What skills will be in demand and how to plan to take advantage of this trend? Finally, what will the industry look like in the near term? What technologies will propel Smart Grids toward acceptance by the consumer?
To kick off the discussion, Scott Muench stated that Smart Grids currently aren’t “smart”. The data being collected by smart meters is generally not being fed back to the consumer so they can make informed decisions about their power usage. Another issue pointed out by Lynn McDermid is that the industry is accustomed to having an analog device that is read once a month. Now with smart meters, they are receiving usage data every fifteen minutes. Dominion only has over 100,000 smart meters in place and how that data be stored, interpreted and used is still to be effectively addressed. [Read more…]