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IEEE Takes the Lead on Smart Grid

By Bill Williams

Even as the term “Smart Grid” is becoming a household name throughout the United States and around the globe, the definitions of the term remain nearly as varied as the number of reference sources.  The Department of Energy defines the Smart Grid as, “the electricity delivery system, from point of generation to point of consumption, integrated with communications and information technology for enhanced grid operations, customer services, and environmental benefits.”  But IEEE simplifies and broadens the description by saying, “The Smart Grid has come to describe a next-generation electrical power system that is typified by the increased use of communications and information technology in the generation, delivery and consumption of electrical energy.” 

Regardless of the precise definition, development of "smart" technologies to foster more efficient use of technology has become a key element in plans to lower consumer energy costs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.  To help promote this development, IEEE is working to position itself as a global leader in the effort to coordinate and develop the necessary expertise, standards and application of Smart Grid technologies. 

IEEE has recently initiated several projects designed to bring together a “broad array of resources to provide expertise and guidance for those involved in Smart Grid worldwide,” according to the IEEE Smart Grid Web Portal.  The first of which was development of the portal itself.  According to the site, IEEE Smart Grid (http://smartgrid.IEEE.org) “is designed for manufacturers, policymakers, educators, academics, governments, engineers, computer scientists, researchers and other stakeholders in the power and energy, information technology (IT), and communications industries.

The second project was the first-ever IEEE Conference on Innovative Smart Grid Technologies, which was held in Gaithersburg, Md., on19-21 January 2010.  The conference featured a comprehensive collection of knowledge related to Smart Grid technologies, spanning: power and energy systems applications; cyber and physical security systems; wide area protection, communication, and control; smart sensing, advanced metering; home automation, demand response; and renewable integration.

The conference was sponsored by the IEEE Power & Energy Society, Communications Society, Signal Processing Society, Computer Society, Power Electronics Society and IEEE-USA, through a new IEEE Smart Grid Task Force that is coordinating IEEE Smart Grid activities. More than 730 people from 32 countries participated in the event, making it a truly global event.

According to Wanda Reder, 2008-09 President of the IEEE Power & Energy Society and chair of the IEEE Smart Grid Task Force, more than 80 percent of the conference participants were from non-academic fields, including representatives from electric utilities, manufacturing, regulatory bodies, and research providers.  “This was the first Smart Grid conference with peer-reviewed technical papers, all of which were enthusiastically presented,” said Reder. 

Gordon Day, 2009 President of IEEE-USA, was impressed not only by the number of attendees, but also by how engaged they were on the issues.  “They were very focused on the importance of developing smart grids, and the opportunities they present,” said Day.

Thirteen press analysts attended the conference to interview experts and provide coverage for the most recent Smart Grid news. Feeding from the news of the conference itself and the announcement of the IEEE Smart Grid Portal, “the media seemed hungry to learn about new Smart Grid developments,” Reder said.

Reder added that, during the conference there were more than 14,000 views of the IEEE Smart Grid portal in the first 24 hours after the site launch, hundreds of online sites that provided media coverage, 95 journalists that pitched IEEE Smart Grid and more than 15 feature articles published.  “The conference was a tremendous success,” she said, “and we will definitely do this again next year.”

In the meantime, several IEEE Smart Grid events are planned, such as SMART GRID DAY, which will be held in conjunction with the 2010 IEEE PES Transmission and Distribution Conference and Exposition, in New Orleans, La., on 21 April 2010. This will be a special all-day program dedicated to the latest developments about the Smart Grid.  To learn more, visit www.ieeet-d.org/smartgrid.html.  




Bill Williams is IEEE-USA's legislative representative for technology policy activities.

Comments may be submitted to todaysengineer@ieee.org.

Copyright © 2010 IEEE

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