Smart grid advice from SMUD (Home gateways? Really?)

Don Jacobs works for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), where he leads a  Smart Grid Project Management Office responsible for 51 smart grid projects. You learn a lot of lessons running 51 real-world projects. Jacobs shared some of those learnings in a recent webinar, and the folks at EE Times have summarized two of the most important tips  in an article.


I put a couple of highlights from it below, or click the link to read the full article. I was interested to see Don thinks home gateways have benefits both for utilities and for customers. Many utilities have abandoned the home gateway idea as too expensive for too little advantage. Do you agree with Don? Use the Talk Back form at the bottom to share your opinion. C Jesse Berst

SMUD's SmartSacramento smart grid program deployed 615,000 smart meters. The AMI network also connected to home area network (HAN) devices. SMUD deployed 6,700 HAN devices. The project was funded in part by a $127.5 million grant from the Department of Energy.

Lesson number one: When working with consumer devices that touch the smart grid, there's no substitute for field testing. This is especially true for mobile, battery-operated devices. When SMUD recognized the need for certification and testing, it took a hybrid approach, using both internal and external testing.

Among other things, SMUD discovered that stationary devices like thermostats had high conductivity rates, but mobile devices such as in-home displays had low rates.

Lesson number two: Home gateways can simplify testing for utilities while giving customers more choice. For one thing, the HAN gateway/router can act as an additional security firewall behind the meter. It can also provide two communication paths to the connected HAN devices, a primary ZigBee path through the meter, and a backup broadband path for customers with Internet access.

"Overall, our smart meter network has become a catalyst for a closer two-way partnership between the utility and its customers who work together to improve energy efficiency and reduce peak demand."

Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.


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