The Smart Grid: It’s a “Crazy Quilt” (Part 3)

SG IIoT Logo Powerpoint 10.12.15

Part 3: Plan for a Slow and Untidy Transition to the SG IIoT

Dom Geraghty

Excerpts from Part 3 of “The SG National Necessity Series

  • The U.S. power sector is heterogeneous and its governance and coordination is balkanized: over 3,200 utilities implementing a broad range of different business strategies; 50 state regulatory commissions that more often than not implement different regulatory policies, e.g., on mandated RPS targets; independent siting boards; 100 balancing authorities; 6 ISOs with very different market protocols
  • The transition to the SG IIoT is like the construction of a "crazy quilt", project by project, utility by utility, one disparate patch (project) at a time with many zigs and zags along the way – a “random walk down grid street”
  • The pathway to the SG IIoT is indeterminate because it is governed by thousands of independent decisions and uncoordinated projects that are randomly implemented
  • Today, the SG is a hodge-podge of opportunistic situation-specific application projects (“patches” in the crazy quilt) with different functionalities which don’t communicate across applications and which operate in different time domains
  • There is no universal architecture driving the SG transition, although a number have been proposed – in the U.S., we are undergoing a laissez-faire “transition” to the SG in contrast to, for example, Germany’s top down “transformation” of its power sector
  • New SG applications have to interface with a range of different product and technology vintages because power system assets have a 40-year lifetime and often undergo multiple upgrades during their lifetime
  • Interoperability between SG IIoT applications and the existing power system is being achieved mostly by customized Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
  • The “real-world” transition to the SG IIoT is protracted because of:
    • The requirements to “do no harm”
    • The need to provide due process
    • The modest level of technology readiness
    • The reluctance of vendors to cannibalize existing revenue-producing products
    • Uncertainties in prospective investment returns, and
    • The lack of broad-based interoperability standards
  • The slowness of the SG IIoT transition raises its cost and duration
  • Part 5 of this series suggests ways to accelerate the transition to the SG IIoT while meeting regulatory mandates, achieving a least cost national deployment, and maintaining service reliability

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” 

          -Friedrich Nietzsche, “Thus Spake Zarathustra”, 1885

“His way had therefore come full circle, or rather had taken the form of an ellipse or a spiral, following as ever no straight unbroken line, for the rectilinear belongs only to Geometry and not to Nature and Life.” 

          -“The Glass Bead Game”, Hermann Hesse, 1946

“What need is there of suspicious fear? And if you see clearly, go by this way content, without turning back: but if you do not see clearly, stop and take the best advisors.”

          -Emperor Marcus Aurelius, “Meditations”, 174 A.D.

As always, comments welcome and appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *