Jesse Berst's Global Smart Energy and Michael Butler's Cascadia Capital have assembled this multi-part series where business leaders share their opinions on the future of the smart grid. This eighth installment features Sunil Cherian, President, Spirae.

Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, Spirae is focused on developing solutions for large-scale integration of renewables, DG and demand response into a seamless system that works for system operators, utilities and end users.

Q: What is the most important next step in the development of the smart grid?

A: The next phase of smart grid development needs scalable and adaptable demonstrations designed to address concerns about system reliability and cost/benefit uncertainty. These projects should be designed to demonstrate how the smart grid offers a rich platform for enabling new business transactions between energy producers, consumers and service providers while maintaining grid reliability through automatic network and power management. Smart grid platforms should be naturally scalable so that innovative solutions, value propositions, regulatory changes and policy incentives can be tested and refined, proven in operations and continually scaled for broader adoption.

Q: What kind of "shovel-ready" jobs can the smart grid produce?

A: Smart grid deployments need a variety of solutions such as: smart consumer appliances and energy management systems; metering, protection and switching equipment; renewable energy systems, distributed generation, andstorage; advanced modeling, simulation, and training software; and grid operations and enterprise information systems. Smart grid projects will create or retain jobs in all these areas, led by smart grid analysis (business, technical, regulatory), design, development, integration and operations jobs. With appropriate incentives, distributed resources such as flexible demand, roof-top PV, grid-friendly energy management systems and selective grid upgrades can be immediately deployed to support smart grid objectives that create job opportunities.

Q: What role should the federal government play in this transformation? What role should the states play?

A: The federal government can accelerate the adoption of smart grids by facilitating a common set of standards in areas such as generation interconnection, data exchange, service delivery, reliability and security. This will enable vendors and solutions providers to confidently develop products and services for smart grids. Financial incentives for deploying scalable and adaptable smart grid implementations will enable utilities and other stakeholders to share the uncertainties and risks of smart grid development and adoption. At the state level, regulatory changes and policy incentives can play a significant role in enabling individual projects, regional collaborations and multi-utility smart grid initiatives. Ultimately, federal and state policy and regulatory certainty is essential for attracting the long-term investments required for smart grids.

(Pictured above Sunil Cherian, President, Spirae.)


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