T&D World Magazine

Telecom, IT Will Enable The Next-Generation Utility

Energy companies are embarking on a massive period of technology investment that will help make them more efficient, more responsive to consumers and “greener.” Utilities are already beginning to invest heavily in the advanced communications networks that will make the automated “next-generation utility” possible.

The Utilities Telecom Council’s (UTC) new report, “Next Steps to the Next-Generation Utility,” discusses the trends, technologies, risks and opportunities that will shape utility technology investments, helping to guide utility managers, technology vendors, industry analysts, and regulators through the critical investment decisions that will dominate at least the next two decades.

“This study is an important look at the communications and information technologies that utilities will rely on to get them to the next generation,” said William R. Moroney, UTC’s president and CEO.

Some key findings from the “Next Steps to the Next-Generation Utility” report include:

  • Utilities will invest heavily in a variety of advanced communications technologies –fiber optics, Broadband over Power Line (BPL), meshed WiMax, and others – to build Internet Protocol (IP) -enabled networks that will carry critical data needed to automate operations.
  • The opportunity for utilities is great, but so are the risks. Utilities want technology that can be upgraded and expanded, and that will interoperate with other systems down the road.
  • Each utility is different and each must take those differences into account as they study the costs and benefits of automation. An example in this report shows how one utility can reduce labor costs, improve efficiency, and achieve increased profits from an “Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)” automation program.
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