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A survey by Microsoft which polled more than 210 professionals within electric, gas and related companies has revealed an eight per cent increase in the number of utilities moving past smart grid planning and into implementation.
The survey also highlighted the challenges that utilities face, from financial and regulatory to technology and return on investment, as they move from planning to implementation.
A key finding has suggested that utilities need key architectural and implementation guidance, to be certain that future smart grid technology advances will integrate with, and help protect, their existing technology investments.
“Our study clearly indicates the hype cycle is over, and more utilities today are planning smart grid implementations,” said Jon C. Arnold, managing director for the Worldwide Power & Utilities Industry at Microsoft, and member of the Smart Grid Advisory Committee to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
“Our discussions with clients indicate an increased emphasis on architecture in the planning process as they transform their existing information systems and business operations and implement the smart grid.”
The poll also revealed that 73 per cent of those questioned are seeing a rise in budgets to support these implementation efforts, while 64 per cent felt they had an unclear view of the enterprise-wide information and technology infrastructure they will use to structure current and future smart grid deployments.
An equal number said that the flexibility to adapt new or future technologies is paramount to achieving the grid of the future.
“We’re seeing a normal phenomenon occur in terms of the evolution of thinking about these projects,” explains Arnold.. “Utilities are finding out what they don’t know and they are naturally exerting some caution before making big investments, even though the willingness to spend is there.”