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SDG&E sees smart grid as an evolution, not a revolution

Yesterday, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) filed its Smart Grid Deployment Plan (2011-2020) with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). It's by no means light reading - the application and supporting documents total 407 pages -- but its scope provides an excellent planning document for other electric utilities road mapping their own smart grid deployments.

Worth mentioning: Like SDG&E, Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison are also required by California SB 17, D.10-06-047, to file their own smart grid deployment plans by July 1, 2011.

Our cover feature in the just-released May/June issue of Intelligent Utility magazine broaches the subject of Smart Grid 2020, and the lasting changes this decade will bring to the electric utility industry. In it, I noted that some elements are more hazy than others. In SDG&E's deployment plan, there is no haziness but, rather, an acknowledgement that it's a living plan, rather than a static one. It will be updated, the filing says, "as its customers, stakeholders, available technologies, and services evolve; adopt new security strategies as new threats or best practices emerge; and adjust its cost and benefit estimates as its pilot and deployment experiences and new information bring greater certainty to anticipated inputs, time lines and outcomes."

The utility's Home Area Network (HAN) Infrastructure project will provide HAN device commissioning and decommissioning capabilities, manage and distribute firmware updates, demand response event signals, pricing signals and short messages to HAN devices. According to the plan, "This project will implement the required hardware infrastructure to support the Demand Response Control Application (DRCA) deployment. Security review and penetration testing are also included to ensure that security threats are mitigated.

"Future implementations will support growth of the system, additional infrastructure required for a customer device management portal, and security testing of new HAN."

The goal, with regard to demand response and energy efficiency? "As SDG&E empowers its customers to become more involved in their energy usage," says yesterday's filing, "SDG&E envisions a new grid with complex systems allowing demand response programs that help both the utility and the customer, energy efficiency practices that become the norm and not just for those who are 'green,' the further expansion of distributed energy, and the introduction of energy storage to support the system."

It's a tall order, but the plan looks do-able. As always, SDG&E is one utility that bears watching...closely.

The ins and outs of smart grid implementations will be one of the many topics discussed at the Knowledge Summit 2011.
 

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