Smart planning for a successful smart grid roll-out

See: John Finnigan blog for the full article

Ben Franklin famously said, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”  This saying certainly holds true for smart grid deployment plans, which can cost utilities several hundred million dollars.  Given these high stakes, good planning is essential.

Many utilities have installed smart grids.  Currently, 25% of U.S. electricity customers have smart meters, a key component of the smart grid.  Some early deployments were rocky, but utilities have learned their lessons.  Utilities have incorporated these lessons learned in the planning process for more recent smart grid deployments.  A well-thought-out smart grid deployment plan should address the following topics:

  • Strategic purpose: What are the objectives for deploying a smart grid?  What are the guiding principles which will govern the project?
  • Road map: The plan should provide a step-by-step overview for each phase of the deployment plan, in chronological order.
  • Technologies: Describe the technologies selected by the utility and explain how these technologies will function together as a unified system.
  • Implementation: Explain how the utility will manage the project and coordinate the activities of the different departments involved in the deployment.
  • Customer impacts: How will customers be affected by the smart grid deployment? What changes will they see in the electricity service they receive, including the meters, meter data, billing, collection, connection/disconnection of service, and customer service?
  • New services: What new products and services, including new rate plans, will the utility provide after the smart meters are installed?
  • Customer education: How will the utility educate customers about the smart grid plan? What channels with the utility use to communicate with customers and how often will these communications occur?
  • Cybersecurity and data privacy: How will the utility keep the customers’ usage information secure? How can customers provide information to other providers of energy products and services? What types of information will be available to these third parties?