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Future of the Grid Series – Part One: What Does the Future of the Grid Look Like?

This is the first of a three part series on the Future of the Grid and the transformation of legacy models.

The electric system in the United States is in the initial stages of a major transformation.  This transformation completely changes the legacy model of central generation, transmission and distribution to a highly diverse and distributed model with substantial amounts of renewable energy, customer-owned generation, and smart, price-responsive loads.

The present regulatory framework does not serve the needs of this transformation.  If current regulatory requirements – such as net metering – were carried forward to a world of large numbers of customer-owned generation, the result would be the much written about “death spiral” for the utility industry.  This means utilities would remain responsible for reliability and the supplier of last resort while being deprived of much of their revenue.

Over the past year, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity Deliver and Energy Reliability (DOE OE) and the Gridwise Alliance have undertaken a Grid Visioning Initiative and facilitated a series of four regional workshops across the country to aggregate stakeholder views on ways that grid operations, business models, and regulatory models must evolve.

The regional workshops were held in four locations:

  • Western Workshop, December 11, 2013, Seattle, WA
  • Central Workshop, February 4, 2014, Dallas, TX
  • Southeast Workshop, April 8, 2014, Durham, NC
  • Northeast Workshop, May 13, 2014, New York, NY

Attendees included consumer advocates, public service commissioners, manufacturers, renewables developers, state energy officials, utility executives, and state and federal legislators and staff.

Future of the Grid National Summit

The Future of the Grid Summit held June 26, 2014 in Washington, DC, was the culmination of these workshops.  Panel sessions were held to discuss each of the elements of the framework and engage attendees with questions and discussions. The participants discussed the key themes that emerged from the regional workshops and discussed the framework developed by the Gridwise Alliance based on data gathered from the regional workshops. Cisco provided sponsorship for the National Summit, adding Cisco to the list of those providing support and leadership to the Department of Energy and the Electric utility industry.

Keynote speakers at the summit were:

  • Bob Shapard, Chair of Gridwise Alliance and CEO of Oncor
  • Eric Lightner, Director, Smart Grid Task Force, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Representative Jerry McNerney (D-CA)
  • Dr. Ernest Moniz, Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Patricia Hoffman, Assistant Secretary, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Department of Energy

As Secretary Moniz conveyed in his remarks, the Department of Energy is engaged in conducting their Quadrennial Energy Review. The collaboration and leadership provided by the Gridwise Alliance is critical to the future of the industry and a sustainable energy future.

Becky Harrison, CEO of Gridwise Alliance, framed the discussion with an overview of the findings from the regional workshops, and the framework developed as a result.

A New Grid Framework

The framework begins with the Evolution of Grid Operations.  Grid modernization is not only updating the grid infrastructure for resilience and reliability, it is also fundamentally changing the operating model of the grid from a focus on central generation and delivery to a highly distributed and dynamic multidirectional flow of power from diverse resources.

The next step is the Evolution of Business Models.  With more and more power coming from renewable resources and distributed generation owned by customers, the business model of the industry must change to one that fairly values and fairly compensates all participants and customers.

The Evolution of Regulatory Models immediately follows as there is very little flexibility in the existing legacy regulatory framework of the industry that is embedded in a mix of Federal and state legislation, regulation, and jurisdiction.  Does the “natural monopoly” of the grid persist when growing amounts of power are produced by customer-owned assets?

The fourth element of the framework is Transitioning to the Future Grid.  The enormity of the grid requires that this transformation take place over time.  It is completely impossible to renovate the grid as we might renovate a building – you can’t shut it down, undertake a huge construction project, and open it with a ribbon cutting ceremony at some point in the future.

The framework is iterative as each portion changes to accommodate changes in the other elements.  This in itself is a dramatic departure from the largely static regulatory and business model that has existed for more than 70 years.

Why is this important for Cisco?

Cisco has been a longtime member of the Gridwise Alliance (GWA) with both Laura Ipsen and now Rick Geiger, serving as board members.  GWA holds a unique voice in the industry as an organization and a forum for discussion and collaboration across the entire ecosystem of stakeholders in this critical industry.  Cisco is able to hear and understand diverse points of view as well as provide input and thought leadership on issues that are shaping the future.

As we engage utility customers in discussions of their strategic objectives and the priorities and business outcomes they seek, the work of Gridwise Alliance and the role of Cisco provide tangible credibility of our commitment to the industry.

If you’d like to know more about Gridwise Alliance, please contact me by commenting on this blog. Also, watch out for parts 2 and 3, where I’ll break down the DOE’s final summary report and the vision of the nation’s future electricity grid.

Cisco Partner Weekly Rewind – December 12, 2014

Partner-Weekly-Rewind-v2Each week, we’ll highlight the most important Cisco Partner Ecosystem news and stories, as well as point you to important, Cisco-related partner content you may have missed along the way. Here’s what you might have missed this week:

Off the Top

We had the opportunity this week to hear from Edison Peres on how Cloud Builders Monetize Intercloud by Helping Customers Create Hybrid IT. If you’re interested in how building data centers and private clouds have become such a big part of the partner business, be sure to check out Edison’s blog.

If you are already a private cloud builder it’s great reinforcement for what you’re already doing and we would love to hear from all of you. Let us know what you think of Edison’s latest blog post.

New growth opportunities with the introduction of Cisco Connected Analytics

Cisco’s Connected Analytics portfolio brings analytics to the data center; anywhere; in near-real time. This helps capture insights that create opportunities, simplify business operations, and enhance the customer experience. Cisco’s Connected Analytics portfolio provides partner growth opportunities, allowing you to add business intelligence, analytics, and data management services that differentiate your practice. Read More »

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How the Journey of Data Can Transform Cities

In the modern world, terms like “big data”and “open data”are making their way from tech industry forums and into local innovation initiatives across cities.

And Kansas City, MO., is no exception. Earlier this year, Think Big Partners– based in the City of Fountains and aspiring to be one of the most entrepreneurial cities in the United States –began a new collaboration with Cisco to architect a new open data portal that will be complete with some of the city’s public data sets, and eventually data from participants in this broader initiative. The goal of this portal is to help the entrepreneurial community gain easy access to relevant data in order to cull and develop their own creative Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

This new portal is one component of a larger effort for Think Big Partners, Cisco and other innovative companies to work together to manage a Kansas City “living lab” for entrepreneurs and start-ups from all over the country to tap into. The lab is designed to incubate an open ecosystem for these entrepreneurs, innovation partners and other members of the start-up community to develop new applications and technologies to address some of Kansas City’s biggest challenges. The opportunity to deploy these emerging technologies onto a larger scale, industrial platform and test them will accelerate IoT innovation through a unique commercialization model.

During the Global Editors Conference this week, where I virtually participated in a media roundtable hosted at San Jose State University on how the Internet of Everything is impacting public sector, I spoke about how Think Big Partners and Cisco are helping to create a new journey for data and IoT innovation using the new data portal as the vessel for this journey.

This new open data portal will serve as an intersection for entrepreneurs to not only have easy access to the data available, but to help the data continue on its journey to the community through the form of new apps.

Applications that have already emerged as near term, high potential candidates include smart parking, using video as a sensor, and sensors that improve delivery of municipal services especially in the area of water.

Think Big has a history of working as an innovation partner for large companies and will use the living lab, along with our Internet of Things Innovation Lab, to short circuit proof of concept challenges for entrepreneurs while testing new technologies using actual use cases. The combination of data, devices and expertise will yield powerful results at a fraction of the historical costs of commercialization technology.

As we approach 2015, I look forward to seeing this data and applications continue on its journey as the Internet of Things entrepreneur community continues to innovate and create new apps that will enhance the lives of Kansas City residents and in turn, transform cities.

Follow the conversation on Twitter with @ThinkBigKC and #CiscoGEC

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A Model for Evaluating Breach Detection Readiness

Given that modern attacks are complex and sophisticated, there is not a single product or tool that will ever be 100% effective at detecting threats. Prevention eventually fails. Therefore, you need protection before, during, and after an attack.

Modern-day networks are large and complicated. It is a nightmare for incident response teams and security investigators because it often takes days and months to identify that their networks were compromised. A wide variety of tools, technologies and platforms are available, like big data platforms, machine learning algorithms, statistical techniques, threat intelligence platforms, reputation feeds etc. It is often confusing for the decision makers to identify what is needed for their environment.
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Oh, the Places We’ll Go! Cisco’s Predictions for 2015 and Beyond

We’d be hard-pressed to deny that advances in technology are making an incredible impact on all of our lives. The way we work, the way we live – even the way we sleep – are being changed by technology.

As humans, we are increasingly motivated by our desire to be connected to each other and to the information that matters most to us. And in the budding world of the Internet of Everything (IoE), we are seeing this need satisfied further. Thirty years ago Apple introduced the Macintosh and Internet was a word not known to most. As I reflect back to what IT was like back then, I realize just how far we’ve come today and can envision the possibilities of where we’ll go.

Today at the Cisco 2014 Cisco Global Editors Conference I had the pleasure of sitting down with my Cisco colleagues, Maciej Kranz and Joseph Bradley to discuss the future of innovation, trends affecting the technology industry in 2015 – and we talked about the ultimate impact technology has on everyday society. Securing the Internet of Things (IoT), growth of encrypted traffic, network simplification, real-time analytics and the future of work were just some of the hot topics deliberated during our 45-min conversation, dubbed Cisco’s Technology Forecast.

We chatted about how Google’s acquisition of Nest is just the beginning of a trend we see spreading in the coming years, as products and innovations in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) change the way we connect, communicate and make sense of our world. The convergence of Information Technology, Telecommunications and Data Networking technologies into innovative solutions are shaping our future and, specifically in vertical markets, forcing IT players to expand their horizon and look for business partners well beyond the IT world.

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