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Until fairly recently, most smart grid coverage has revolved around smart meter usage at home and in the workplace. While they are a major component of measuring and monitoring electric grids around the world, today’s utility companies now must look to build on the benefits smart meters impart by continuing to advance in such areas as distribution automation, demand response, distributed generation, and grid optimization.
With all of this smart grid innovation, some utilities are taking the unprecedented step to tie their profitability to their ability to execute energy saving strategies while still maintaining high-quality service. Starting in 2013, Commonwealth Edison of northern Illinois has, among other things, agreed to incrementally improve the length and duration of power outages to customers each of the next ten years. If it fails to improve in these and other areas, state regulators will be able to remove certain portions of the profit from the utility’s bottom line. This landmark legislation also paves the way for streamlined regulatory processes for ComEd should they meet their yearly goals.
The global smart grid market is currently valued at $27 billion and is projected to grow to $49 billion if patterns in emerging countries continue. Utility companies must continue to roll out and upgrade existing smart grid technologies to stay competitive, profitable, and in their customer’s good graces. The correct strategies and communications will make all the difference in today’s ever-connected world.
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