In the words of Kenny Mercado, “Grid modernization will dominate investments over the next 10 years.”
Mercado, senior vice president of electric operations for CenterPoint Energy, shared his thoughts during a panel discussion on the “Grid of the Future” last week week at DistribuTECH. He says we will continue to see a focused commitment on investing in our grid for the next 5 to 10 years. However, utilities can’t afford to wait until 2020 to jump in, they must begin planning now.
“At the core of the new era will be the advancement of technology near the meter or behind the meter, which really is all about the customer and the community wanting more control,” states Mercado.
The advancements in technologies in California, New York and Texas will be the mainstream models that other states will need to pay attention to as they move forward.
Mercado says, “Utilities need to make very smart, very innovative investments in their infrastructures and investments in their systems to modernize capabilities inside the grid to be ready for whatever types of technology they are going to advance.”
At a minimum, Mercado says the Grid of the Future needs to do five things:
- Improve system reliability and system resilience
- Enable near-real-time customer services, customer applications, customer choice
- Keep monthly energy bills affordable
- Enable competitive distributed energy and renewable resources of all kinds
- Protect grid from bad acts.
Mercado reports that from 2009-2012, CenterPoint Energy invested more than $1 billion in its advanced metering system and intelligent grid. And in the three years extending from 2012 to 2014, CenterPoint Energy put more focus internally on the grid and invested $2.3 billion in infrastructure and systems it uses in its service territories.
Time is critical. Investments need to be made now to be successful.