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TMCnet's Smarter Utility Week in Review

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September 01, 2012

TMCnet's Smarter Utility Week in Review

By Cheryl Kaften, TMCnet Contributor

In Smarter Utility news this week, utilities and consumers are using new connectivity to find and report system outages, two major industry players and joining forces to develop a next-generation digital substation, and data centers are using new software to open a path for “stranded power.”

Oncor, the largest distribution and transmission system in Texas, recently announced that it has successfully implemented SmartData for Outage Management. Oncor also confirmed that during the initial few months of operation, SmartData for Outage Management detected over 80 percent of Oncor’s outage and power quality events long before their customers called in to raise complaints. 

Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd), which serves 70 percent of the population in Illinois, has released a new Facebook application that enables users to report power outages. By visiting ComEd’s Facebook (News - Alert) page, clicking the “Report an Outage” icon and entering the same log-in information they use on, customers can let the utility know that their power is out and where the outage is located. Customers can return to the app to check on the status of the outage, as well. ComEd is the first public utility in the country to offer this capability through Facebook.

Alstom Grid and Cisco (News - Alert) have signed a commercial and technology agreement to develop the next generation of digital substation solutions for electrical grids. This collaboration will leverage Paris-based Alstom's smart grid expertise in digital substation solutions with Silicon Valley-based Cisco's capabilities in connected grid solutions and Internet Protocol (IP) communication technologies. Together the two companies will create a new level of IP-based communication performance for integrated cyber security, distributed monitoring, and controls, using Cisco's ruggedized substation-grade Connected GridT routers and switches with communications and cyber-security functions, and Alstom's cutting-edge DS AgileT control system for substation automation.

The ever-growing need for fresh applications creates power scarcity at data centers. Power Assure has unveiled the PAR4 Measurement Service, which is intended to gauge the accurate active and inactive energy consumption of instruments used in data centers. This service can open a path for stranded power, while at the same time enhancing IT capabilities. The PAR4 Measurement Service presents the precise requirements of power to accomplish best practices in energy management at datacenters and considerably perks up power management efficiency.  

Denmark-based Kamstrup, a manufacturer of system solutions for energy metering, has introduced the Omnia Suite, which the company describes as a, “smart grid-ready end-to-end solution for utilities, with an unprecedented strong focus on openness, security and meter-reading performance.” In addition to its commitment to wireless technology and strong security architecture, the company also is supporting the smart home. The Kamstrup Omnipower smart meter features smart home-ability by means of a transparent communication channel. A communication module (such as ZigBee) can be installed in the meters, so that price signals and text messages can be sent to smart home equipment for further processing. An Energy Monitor App provides an instant picture of any unwanted power consumption and contributes to a more conscious usage.

Geographic positioning systems are changing the way people work worldwide. For example, in agricultural operations, GPS-based water management technology is being employed to monitor sloping and drainage, helping to increase crop yield and productivity. Now, Sunnyvale, California-based Trimble (News - Alert) has introduced the WM-Topo survey system–a portable solution that can be used to collect topographic data in even the most challenging terrain. Comprising a Trimble Nomad handheld computer and a pole-mounted Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver, the product can be carried into nearly inaccessible areas, such as ditches and steep terrain, muddy fields, and fields with mature crop cover.

In related news, Trimble also has introduced a Connected Farm app for smartphone platforms. This free app uses the built-in Global Positioning System (GPS) of the smartphone for collecting in-field information to aid in fast and accurate decision making. The app allows farmers and agronomists to map field boundaries, mark flags, take geo-referenced photos and enter scouting information for pests. The Connected Farm app for smartphones will be available for download from the Apple (News - Alert) App Store and Google Play Store in September 2012.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

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