Here, Tony Paine, CEO of Kepware Technologies, explains that open connectivity is a critical element for a reliable smart grid and automated meter applications for the natural gas, water, and electric utilities.
The privacy issue that has naturally emerged as a concern takes into account the serious challenges involved in building out not only a smart, but also secure, infrastructure. Smart meters lead to critical levels of data sharing and interoperability of systems within electricity grids. As increased two-way connectivity between energy producers and end-users emerges, so will concerns for cyber-attacks in regard to this potential exposure of smart grids. For instance, an individual home’s smart meter could be targeted and hacked or it could be more serious with perhaps having a cyber-terrorist being able to black out an entire city. As smart infrastructures proliferate, there are steps being taken to safeguard systems by adding layers of security. Protecting smart infrastructures against criminal or malicious attacks are not only a major concern for utility companies but rather have emerged as a national priority.
The best technologies to support smart grid-related projects will be those that are scalable and easily adaptable to next-generation technologies. As in any fast growing industry, expect a clutter of technologies to emerge as more and more players enter the smart-infrastructure space.
Within the next five years, anticipate a converging of the industrial, commercial, and consumer adoption of smart-infrastructure technologies as they become more pervasive and ingrained. As this happens, the hope is that standards for smart-infrastructure technologies will emerge as there will also be sufficient vendor support to encourage a smart grid market of compatible products and secure applications.
About the author:
Tony Paine is president and co-owner of Kepware Technologies; joining Kepware in 1996 he is now responsible for all Kepware operations. Throughout his career, he has been pivotal in the architectural development of all Kepware products. His attention to detail and the engineering process has been key to delivering technology that functions broadly across the marketplace while also meeting the needs of each and every Kepware OEM.
Tony has represented Kepware in various open standards committees and is currently a member of the Technical Advisory Committee for the OPC Foundation, where he helps to drive the technical direction of our industry. In addition, Tony has been actively involved with the University of Maine System where he is helping to educate the next generation of automation engineers.
Tony has a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maine at Orono.
I have had a smart meter for over a year and am not happy with it. My roof is covered in solar panels. My "true-up" payment at the end of 2009 was around $300. The same payment at the end of 2010 after the installation of a smart meter was over $1,000. I seriously doubt my power consumption increased over 3X in 2010 vs. 2009. The other big concern about smart grid is security. Either personal, as in someone hacking my house to steal power or cause other issues or wide spread as in a malicious attack to take down the whole grid. This should be the first thing that is solved before we start installation of a so-called smart grid.
Tony, thank you for reporting on the communications initiatives for smarter energy use which puts the responsibility on both the provider and the consumer. I agree with you that layers of security will need to be added. What type of technologies are currently being used to safeguard against this now? Also, how will companies and consumers manage the infrastructure? Will electric companies have some sort of management console and will consumers be able to, for example, monitor usage and receive alerts via mobile devices? Maybe there could be a point or reward system for those in groups using energy efficiently. In Austin, TX, Austin Energy has voluntary Energy Savers all over town who agree to respond to their energy usage based on notifications from them so that they, in effect, help to consciously decrease usage during peak times. I will definitely keep reading your articles and updates about this topic as it relates to new urbanism as well.