March 2007
  
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Ken Sinclair, AutomatedBuildings.com
Editor

As published
 

March Issue - Column 

How can I be part of Modernizing the U.S. Electric Grid? Become part the GridWise movement and attend GridWeek in Washington DC.

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What is GridWise? GridWise™ Alliance http://gridwise.org/ is a consortium of public and private stakeholders who are aligned around a shared vision. A vision of an electric system that integrates the infrastructure, processes, devices, information and market structure so that energy can be generated, distributed, and consumed more efficiently and cost effectively; thereby achieving a more resilient, secure and reliable energy system.

What is GridWeek? GridWeek (www.GridWeek.com) is a four-day gathering of grid modernization stakeholders in Washington, DC. GridWeek provides the opportunity for a variety of organizations focused on grid modernization to hold private meetings and participate in collaborative sessions that include leading speakers on grid modernization activities.

What does any of this have to do with Building Automation?
A smart information network—the Internet—for the electric grid is seen as necessary to manage and automate this new world. GridWeek is focused on this vision.

From an interview about GridWeek with Anto Budiardjo on our AutomatedBuildings.com web site:

Sinclair: Who is involved with GridWeek?
Budiardjo: Apart from the DOE as a major sponsor, we have a few dozen trade and technology groups including GridWise, IntelliGrid, GridApp, FERC, NERC and others. We are also working with key commercial sponsors including IBM, SAIC, GE, GridPoint, Tridium and again many more to come.

Sinclair: How about speakers?
Budiardjo: We have the US Secretary of Energy delivering the Keynote at the “State of the Grid” Plenary at GridWeek in addition to a number of Senators and members of Congress speaking. We also have many top level executives from utility companies, technology providers, federal and state regulators and thought leaders in the area of grid modernization. It will be a very high level lineup of the who’s who in the electricity industry.

Sinclair: How does this affect the building industry?
Budiardjo: There is a major link to buildings, which as you know consumes over half of the electricity in the US. To be discussed at GridWeek will be hot topics such as demand response, real time pricing, alternative energy and distributed generation. Many of the solutions to the shortfall in electricity will come down to reducing demand especially at peak load times, and much of this will happen in buildings through building automation. These include the creation of the intelligent grid; an information system overlaid on the electricity grid to automate the supply and demand of electricity and involves curtailing the peak demands of electricity.

Sinclair: That’s energy management, what BAS is all about!
Budiardjo: Exactly Ken!

Sinclair: What are the challenges that GridWeek hopes to address?
Budiardjo: One of the major challenges is that the regulatory framework in existence today does not facilitate a smart grid; this is a combination of federal and state issues. Holding GridWeek in Washington DC will address this by highlighting these issues and the possible technology solutions, to a Washington audience of Congress and state regulators.

Sinclair: In what way is this an opportunity for BAS players?
Budiardjo: There have been a number of articles on your site about Net Zero energy and demand response. Basically utility companies, unable to build enough power stations, will look to curtail demand from electricity consumers. Utility companies are handing out hard cash to do this, real hard cash for reduction of electricity in buildings. This is an opportunity directly solvable by BAS players.

Control Solutions, Inc From another article on our web site Modernizing the Grid Today’s average generating plant was built in 1964 using technology from the 1950s. Utilities have not improved their delivered efficiency in some 50 years. With stagnant efficiency at 33 percent, we essentially burn three lumps of fuel to generate one lump of electricity. Put another way, two-thirds of the fuel burned to generate power is wasted. Richard Munson, Executive Director, Northeast-Midwest Institute

That article goes on to say:

Consider that only 20 years ago, the share of the nation’s electrical load from sensitive electronic equipment – such as computerized systems, appliances and automated manufacturing – was limited. In the 1990s, that share grew to roughly 10 percent. Today, the load from chip technologies and automated manufacturing is 40 percent, and it is expected to grow to more than 60 percent by 2015.

The Department of Energy has stated that the nation’s aging electro-mechanical electric grid cannot keep pace with innovations in the digital information and telecommunications network. We need, says DOE, an electric superhighway to support our information superhighway. Even more critical, if we are to enjoy the benefits of information and telecommunications innovation, we need an innovative electricity system.

A great opportunity for our industry.

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