Electric utilities can effectively plan for successful smart grid implementation by developing a long-term plan that considers where the deployment will be in five, 10 and 15 years. Gap analyses, master plans and stimulus grants can help.
It starts with a long-term plan. A utility must first consider where it wants to be with Smart Grid deployment in five, 10 and 15 years, identifying key objectives such as improving customer service, reducing outages or increasing operational efficiency. A seasoned, vendor-neutral transmission and distribution expert like Burns & McDonnell can perform a gap analysis to identify where equipment and system upgrades are needed. Burns & McDonnell develops a detailed master plan, which considers management and security of incoming data, preparation for long-term upgrades and effective progress tracking.
Well-coordinated plans can lead to supplemental funding, like it did for CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric, one of six utilities awarded the maximum $200 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Smart Grid grant under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. Through project management, engineering, procurement and construction management, Burns & McDonnell is helping CenterPoint upgrade its distribution system, communications equipment and substations as part of the utility’s effort to build a self-healing, intelligent grid, which will improve operational efficiency and power reliability for Houston customers. This project — complemented by CenterPoint’s related Smart Grid initiative to develop an advanced metering system — will be completed in 2013.
Utilities without stimulus grants can take more time to roll out Smart Grid initiatives to spread out costs, rather than accelerating deployment to meet the three-year deadline required for DOE Smart Grid grant recipients.
For more information, contact Allen Xi, 832-214-2839.