T&D World Magazine

Smart Grid Study Identifies Utility Hurdles

U.S. utilities must correct, update, and integrate customer and infrastructure data before a smart grid can be effectively implemented, according to a benchmark study conducted by Esri. The smart grid, a popular plan to add communication and computer technology to electric networks, promises to make energy cleaner and more reliable.

Of the 226 study respondents, 71 percent view geographic information system (GIS) technology as strategic to the smart grid; the remaining 29 percent believe GIS plays a significant role. According to the study, utilities report a lag time of up to 90 days to move data from the field into the GIS. Data accuracy is reportedly spotty, and data is either incomplete or not GPS accurate.

Utility operators will need GIS for crucial smart grid requirements such as collecting and updating data and managing the installation of smart meters and sensors. GIS is also seen as a critical tool for analyzing energy consumption and incorporating renewable energy resources.

"Simply put, GIS facilitates the building and operation of a smart grid," said Bill Meehan, utility solutions director for GIS software company Esri. "However, many utilities in the United States acknowledge that the data in their GIS is not ready for the smart grid. Without accurate data and GIS for monitoring things like demand response and consumer behavior, the smart grid may not live up to its lofty expectations."

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