With smart grid events being offered almost daily, unless your day job is to attend seminars, a vetting of the agenda and presenters is critical. The Association for Demand Response & Smart Grid, now simply known as ADS, is celebrating its 10th anniversary and lived up to expectations this week with the commencement of its signature event, The National Town Meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid. With knowledgeable and experienced presenters from the White House to the California Public Utility Commission, the dialog at Wednesday’s meeting highlighted policy, pricing, innovation and barriers. Sitting in the audience, the conversation among attendees was as enlightening as the thought-provoking discussions from the panelists.

During a break, I had a great conversation with Jamison (Jay) Shaver from GE’s Digital Energy business. From light bulbs and appliances for residential customers to a suite of products to help utilities develop an intelligent and resilient distribution grid, GE is smart-grid-poised industry wide. As Jay discussed with me the five core components of the modern grid, he stressed that many of the supporting systems and platforms used by utilities can now be seamlessly integrated, providing better access to outage information across functional areas such as customer service, dispatch and engineering. Having a dashboard ready with various data points should improve the restoration process. According to Digital Energy, here are the five core grid modernization components:

  1. Smart meters and an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI),
  2. Geographic information system (GIS),
  3. Outage management system (OMS),
  4. Distributed management system (DMS) and
  5. Distribution automation (DA) capabilities.

Jay says these core elements work cohesively to help prevent outages. Typically morbid, I learned about the concept of a smart meter “last gasp”: As the power goes out, smart meters transmit important data to the utility, notifying them of the outage and other diagnostics. Such vital information improves restoration efforts. Knowledge is power.