An Electric Revolution: Smart Grid
An Electric Revolution: Smart Grid
An Electric Revolution: Smart Grid
2 minute read

Smart grids employ a combination of program management, business analysis, distributed generation, equipment monitoring, data acquisition, telecommunications and other technologies that will bring the grid of 2009 into the future.

In spite of the technological advancements of the past century, the electric grid of 2009 doesn’t look all that different from the electric grid of 1909. That will soon change as utilities gradually transform the current electric grid into a dynamic, optimized Smart Grid that is better suited to meet client demand and today’s economic and political climate.

The Smart Grid is the convergence of information and operational technology applied to the electric grid, allowing sustainable options to customers and improved security, reliability and efficiency to utilities. The Smart Grid can affect every aspect of the electrical system from the generator to the refrigerator, and each utility will adopt a unique approach. Each Smart Grid approach employs a combination of the following:

  • Program management
  • Business analysis
  • Distributed generation
  • Remote equipment monitoring
  • Data acquisition technologies
  • Telecommunications
  • NERC compliance
  • Data integration management
  • Data analytics and evaluation
  • Demand-side management
  • Energy services
  • Home Area Network

To help utilities find the right Smart Grid strategy, Burns & McDonnell has built a Smart Grid Laboratory to further study and analyze these focus areas through hands-on testing of a range of vendor equipment, rate structures, and renewable and distributed generation resources. This method is what Burns & McDonnell coined The Intelligent Approach to the Smart GridSM.

For more information, contact Mike Beehler, 816-822-3358.

12 Smart Grid Elements

Program Management

Develop a multifaceted, multiyear plan that details an overall Smart Grid strategy for the utility. The plan should define specific strategies, including stakeholder relations and prudency review, that will result in higher performance, controlled costs and revenue protection.

Business Analysis

Develop strategies, technology assessments and the business case to support regulatory requests and funding for pilot projects.

Distributed Generation

Engineer the connection, dispatch and/or storage of renewable and microscale generation resources to the customer/owner and the electric distribution system.

Remote Equipment Monitoring

Design and manage the installation of intelligent equipment devices on major substation equipment and critical transmission spans to remotely monitor asset and environmental conditions on a quasi real-time basis.

Data Acquisition Technologies

Specify a vendor-neutral advanced meter infrastructure (AMI) system or a substation/distributed automation program that acquires real-time data to support improved security, reliability and operational efficiency of the distribution system.


Study and develop a robust broadband telecommunications system for rural, suburban and urban applications to transfer mission-critical and non-critical data from the customer, distribution feeder or substation to system operations centers.

NERC Compliance

Evaluate physical and cyber security requirements of the distribution system to include substations and system operations centers, and develop a plan to comply with existing mandatory North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) standards and for future cyber security challenges.

Data Integration Management

Coordinate the integration and long-term management and warehousing of operational and/or customer data from new and legacy systems onto a secure platform that allows data analysis, visualization and reporting by various user groups.

Data Analytics and Evaluation

Analyze real-time and archived data to develop a better understanding of load factors, energy usage patterns, equipment conditions and voltage levels. Integrate the data into usable customer programs and/or operation and maintenance algorithms that identify, trend and alert operators to incipient failure.

Demand-Side Management

Study the rate impacts of conservation and load-management programs to include demand-response programs and dispatchable or stored renewables, using AMI data for various customer classifications. Obtain regulatory approval to test the marketing, performance and acceptance of the programs through pilot projects.

Energy Services

Provide design only or turnkey (engineer-procure-construct) services for commercial and industrial customers that implement energy efficiency or load-shifting projects at their facilities.

Home Area Network

Identify, test and analyze the response of new electric household appliances and consumer devices to market price signals from the utility via AMI or the Internet in the context of existing or pilot-rate structures.

Check out the interactive version of the Smart Grid graphic >

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