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Sirti Bestows Award of Honor
October 21, 2010. Billie Moreland, PhD, of Billie Moreland and Associates and Steve Simmons, PhD, E...

Triangle %u201CGraduates%u201D at Sweet Sixteen
The Idea (1994)
In June 1994, while on a layover in the San Francisco airport, Dr. Steve Simmons cam...

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03/31/2004 - INTEC Energy SIG Cites Problems & Progress

"The Northwest is nationally prominent as pioneers in energy technology," said Jesse Berst, Center for Smart Energy, at the INTEC Energy Technology Special Interest Group (SIG) Thursday, March 18. The eight speakers at the SIG addressed the problems faced with electricity generation and consumption in the United States.

Beside Berst, speakers included Terry Oliver, public utility specialist from the Bonneville Power Administration, Dave Holms, Manager of Distribution Systems, Avista Utilities, Mike Davis, CTO ReliOn, Thomas Wilson, President & CEO, PCS Utilidate, Harry Stephens, President & CEO, Avista Advantage, LeRoy Nosbaum, CEO & Chair of the Board, Itron, and Jeff Morris, Executive director, Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative.

Each speaker outlined the problems and possible solutions in electric distribution from their perspective. The greatest potential problem was, of course, total breakdown causing wide spread power outages to the end user --- whether that user was a giant manufacturing plant or a small home. The need is for clean, reliable power.

There was actually little disagreement among the panelists. Problems to be solved include current regulatory chaos, deteriorating infrastructure, a positive balance sheet, and load management. Solutions may have to begin with national energy legislation followed by legislation on the state level. There is little money available for stringing new lines, so energy providers are going to have to be "smart" in managing the existing infrastructure with load demand. Because of historic demand by their constituency for a positive bottom line, utilities are very conservative. This must be overcome so that utilities will embrace new technology that will help solve many of the other problems.

New technology, for example Itron's advanced metering, can help on all levels of consumption. The "advanced meter" contains electronics that can tell when electricity is being used, and creates information out of that. It tells much more than just how much electricity was used, and how much it should cost. The advanced meter would get information that can tell about how the delivery system is being used, what needs maintenance, and where the bottlenecks are. Through the use of such technology, utilities can have smart energy, smart generation, smart grids, and smart end use.

One difficulty faced by those who are creating technology that would benefit the utility industry is getting the technology out of the laboratory and into production. The problems are with technology transfer, funding, and acceptance by the power industry. There is much work yet to be done.

Billie Moreland
 
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