Cisco Systems will bring its networking capabilities to Duke Energy, while Silver Spring Networks will do the same for Commonwealth Edison. Both programs aim to help businesses and homeowners reduce their energy consumption and costs through smart metering programs that let them monitor their power use and adjust their behavior accordingly. Silver Spring also has been tapped for a similar program in Australia.
Cisco Systems and Silver Spring Networks have been tapped by utility
companies to help with their "smart grid" projects.
Duke Energy, a utility company that has 11 million customers in five states,
and Cisco June 9 announced a three-year partnership designed to help bring
smart grid capabilities to Duke's energy delivery infrastructure.
Duke officials are looking to Cisco to bring such capabilities as two-way
digital communication to help reduce the cost and energy consumption while
improving efficiency and reliability.
Meanwhile, Silver Spring Networks was one of several companies named by Commonwealth
Edison June 9 as partners in the initial step of its smart grid strategy. The AMI
(Advanced Metering Infrastructure) pilot program aims to give customers concise
information about their energy use and costs throughout the month before they
get their monthly bills. The idea is that customers will be able to adjust
their behavior accordingly to reduce power consumption and costs.
GE Energy will supply the meters for the project and Silver
Spring will bring its Smart Energy Network wireless network
software and services.
Utilities and government agencies are looking to create smart grids that will
help drive down power consumption and reduce costs for both the companies and
their customers. They're turning to IT networking companies to help them with
Cisco in May launched an aggressive program based on smart grids. The Cisco Smart
Grid initiative is aimed what company officials expect to be a $20
billion-a-year opportunity within five years.
Cisco is looking to give utilities an IP-based communications fabric that
would touch power companies and their customers. Officials said utilities using
smart grid technologies could see a 30 percent jump in reserve power capacity
and a 39 percent reduction in power-generated greenhouse gas emissions.
Homeowners could save up to 12.5 percent on their energy bills, Cisco said.
During a panel
discussion at an event June 5 hosted by Schneider
Electric, Neil Rasmussen, founder of American Power Conversion and chief
innovation officer for Schneider's IT business, said smart grid technologies
are complementary tools in the overall push to reduce power usage in various
buildings, including offices, factories, data centers and homes.
Much of the focus of the Schneider event was on technology that can be used
within these buildings, such as automation and intelligent products.
"[Smart grid strategies don't] replace the need to instrument buildings
or to automate buildings," Rasmussen said. "Smart grid stops at
metering, and doesn't say what's going on inside [the building], where energy
is being consumed."
Duke Energy and Cisco will develop an entire smart grid communications
architecture based on IP protocols.
"Internet protocol-based open standards are key to creating a smart,
highly secure backbone for the nation's modern electrical grid," Marthin
De Beer, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Emerging
Technologies Group, said in a statement.
Cisco and Duke also will develop and install home energy management devices
designed to enable customers to better control their electricity consumption.
In addition, the two companies will test new weather-proof communications
equipment that can be used in Duke's electric substations.
Duke has several smart grid programs planned, including one in Ohio,
where the company over a five-year period will deploy more than 700,000
electric and 450,000 natural gas smart meters. It also is considering a smart
grid project in Indiana,
including the installation of about 800,000 smart meters.
For ComEd, the AMI pilot program will
call for putting about 141,000 smart meters throughout Chicago
and 11 surrounding communities. The initiative is designed to test how
customers interact with the technology, and will offer users such features as
alternative pricing plans, Web interfaces, in-home displays, programmable
thermostats and network control systems.
"Population centers, such as Chicago,
are ideal for the energy-saving power of smart grid technologies," Bob
Gilligan, vice president of transmission and distribution at GE Energy, said in
a statement. "By giving people real choice in how they spend-and
save-their energy dollars, we move them to a new level of energy awareness.
They can make choices that help control infrastructure needs, climate change
and day-to-day costs, ultimately making America's
great cities even more livable."
Silver Spring also announced June 9 that it is
working with electrical distributors CitiPower and Powercor Australia
to give network support to a four-year AMI
program mandated by the Australian government and aimed at about 1.2 million
homes and businesses throughout Victoria, Australia.