Utility Industry is Prioritizing Bandwidth Optimization as Part of Network Integration Efforts

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With the utility industry gradually changing, a significant focus has been placed on modernizing the energy grid to accommodate more sophisticated data capture and sharing capabilities. This shift is driven by the need to optimize bandwidth and improve the efficiency and reliability of power delivery, especially in light of increasing demands such as electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy sources. But a sense of urgency looms since successful integration of these technologies directly impacts service quality and sustainability efforts. 

But what does this modernization really entail, and how are utilities and their partners tackling the challenges and opportunities it presents? 

Bringing some clarity to this question for a segment of Experts Talk to highlight some concerns about today’s energy grid are experts Nick Tumilowicz, Director of Product Management at Itron and Charlie Nobles, Vice President of Utilities Business Development at Ubicquia, Inc. The two examined the industry’s current state and future directions.

They looked into network solutions for grid modernization when it comes to how utilities manage and optimize data bandwidth to handle new loads and data-intensive applications, such as distributed intelligence and grid edge compute.

Here are five of the their main takeaways from their discussion:

  • Each utility has unique needs and challenges, requiring tailored approaches to grid modernization that consider specific use cases and customer impacts.
  • Modern AMI systems utilize sub one gigahertz mesh networks not only for meter reading but also for supporting distributed intelligence, enhancing grid responsiveness.
  • New technologies enable the capture of detailed data at second or subsecond intervals, allowing utilities to quickly assess and respond to issues as they occur, thus protecting critical infrastructure like transformers.
  • Despite limitations in current infrastructure, effective management of data transmission bandwidth is crucial, particularly for handling high-frequency data necessary for immediate operational decisions.
  • The discussion highlighted ongoing challenges such as managing unplanned EV loads and environmental factors, suggesting a need for further in-depth discussions to explore comprehensive solutions.

Tumilowicz and Nobles detail how complex the landscape of grid modernization is, providing a clearer understanding of how utilities can navigate these changes effectively.

Article by Alexandra Simon.

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