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Modernizing the Grid: a Conversation with Cisco’s Connected Energy Customers and Partners

Cisco recently sat down with Richard Creegan of Itron, Gary Murphy of BC Hydro and Dave Geier of SDG&E to discuss the current state of the smart grid transition and to get their perspectives on the new set of offerings in Cisco’s Connected Grid portfoli0. Through a host of new solutions, services and partnerships for utilities, Cisco aims to provide a common communications and network platform to help utilities move forward with grid modernization efforts.                                                                                     

We began with Itron, which joined with Cisco in 2011 in an effort to combine expertise and offer a fully-compliant IPv6 Field Area Network (FAN) solution to the industry. 

CiscoThe alliance between Cisco and Itron has produced its first solution for the utility industry. Can you talk a little about why you felt this union made sense?

Itron: Both Cisco and Itron have their own unique expertise. When it comes to Cisco, information technology is core to what they do and it elevates the value of what we offer to customers. Combined with Itron’s proven expertise in delivering operational technologies that utilities use to run their businesses, this partnership established a vision to create a smart grid platform that will help move both companies forward.  

 Next we turned to BC Hydro and SDG&E, two utility companies who are both utilizing Cisco’s new FAN solution. 

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How Smart Grid and Broadband Work Together

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

Energy policy is a topic that is on the minds of government and business leaders the world over. According to The Climate Group, an independent not-for-profit organization, our global economy is still driven by energy needs, and the vast majority of that energy comes from a finite supply of fossil fuels. According to their assessment, unless we rethink the way we produce and consume energy, eventually there won’t be enough to go around.

They believe that we need to cut our emissions by two thirds by 2050. But we need to do it in a way that protects our livelihoods, creates jobs and supports economic growth around the globe.

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Will ‘good enough’ be enough? Take 2

I recently read an article about a “good enough” network. I know this has come up in the past, but this time was in a much different context. Some people might believe that a “good enough” network is enough enough when you are moving data and web servers, but what about when it becomes the lifeline for the power grid? Read More »

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Cisco and Harris Corporation Help Improve Electrical Infrastructure in Western U.S.

As electrical outages plague the East Coast after Hurricane Irene, it’s interesting to think about how technology could transform our energy future.  In one example, Cisco is collaborating with Harris Corporation, an international communications and IT company, on a five year contract to provide a Wide Area Network (WAN) for the Western Electric Coordinating Council (WECC), the North American Regional Entity. WECC is responsible for coordinating the bulk electric system reliability for the Western U.S., Canada and part of Mexico, as well as the largest and most diverse North American Electric Reliability Corporation Regional Entity.
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Evolution of Cisco’s Energy Strategy

Since 2009, when Cisco formally entered the “smart grid” market, we have made great progress in leveraging Internet Protocol (IP)-based technology to enable the transformation of the global energy industry. Through pilots, industry partnerships, acquisitions, and hiring key leaders from the energy industry, we’ve gained insights and are contributing innovative architectures and solutions to our customers.

As with every new business, we must be vigilant in applying lessons learned and willing to adapt our strategy to evolving conditions, be they economic, technological or policy-related.  So after several customer pilots, we are refining our strategy so we can most effectively apply our experience and expertise in IP-based communications to the electric, gas and water networks globally.

Over the past two years the home and building energy management markets have evolved in such a way that we believe we can provide more value to our customers and the industry by enabling interoperability through our core networking products and solutions (for example, EnergyWise) as part of our integrated architecture within the broader smart grid effort.

For building energy management, this means we are actively pursuing several strategic options for Cisco’s Network Building Mediator and Mediator Manager product line, with an emphasis on minimizing the impact on current customers, partners and employees.  For energy management in the home, we will transition our focus from creating premise energy management devices to using the network as the platform for supporting innovative applications and architectures that will improve our customers’ value proposition in the consumer energy management market.

By driving the network as the platform, leveraging our broader Cisco product portfolio and partner ecosystem, and by incorporating lessons learned into our Connected Grid Architecture, we can enable active customer participation in markets, grid operations, and service innovations.  We can also drive open standards-based solutions and interoperability between existing products. This decision will enable Cisco to best serve its global customers by giving them the flexibility they need to be responsive to market transitions and consumer desires.

Enabling collaboration among public and private stakeholders within the industry is also vital to the success of our customers and partners.  Cisco is hosting a Global Energy Summit on Tuesday, September 27th with John Chambers and thought leaders from the Energy industry including: former California Public Utilities Commissioner Dian Grueneich, former Commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Suedeen Kelly, President and CEO of Digital Energy for GE Bob Gilligan, Secretary General of Elia Group Pierre Bernard, President and COO Global Energy for Itron Philip Mezey, and many more distinguished guests.

Our commitment to the industry remains strong and our vision for energy management and Smart Grid has not changed – to transform energy production, distribution, consumption and management using an end-to-end IP platform.  By learning and adapting to changing market conditions, Cisco can better enable a 21st century model of energy management and the future global energy infrastructure.

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