Verizon program helps utilities find solutions to smart grid challenges
Verizon is leveraging its 4G LTE network and cloud connections to provide utility companies with another option for incorporating smart grid technologies that help them improve efficiency and lower costs
With the demand for power spiking during the sweltering summer months, energy companies need to plan for critical updates to their systems by focusing on digital transformation, network updates and the adoption of smart grid technology to help meet seasonal demands imposed on power grids.
Verizon’s Grid Wide Utility Solutions program is a cloud-based software platform designed to incorporate smart meters onto the energy grid. The platform can help companies manage their smart meter data and demand response programs, along with distribution monitoring and control for electric, water and gas utilities, the company says.
Rather than retrofitting new sensors into older meters, Verizon is adding next generation sensors, communications and applications into new smart meters and deploying them through their utility partners.
“The solution enables utilities to maximize operational efficiencies,” said Jay Olearain, Director of Product and New Business Innovation at Verizon, in emailed remarks to Daily Energy Insider. “Utilities are able to remotely configure, monitor, and manage end-points within their territory, allowing them to see what is happening within their network, in some cases, down to the individual home.”
Resiliency and the ability to detect and correct outages is another big reason for integrating smart meters. “It enables the utilities to better identify the cause and quickly dispatch repair teams. Better allocating personnel, and offering more accurate billing,” Olearain said.
“Ultimately, this enables better customer service that translates to increased satisfaction from customers,” he added.
No discussion on advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) would be complete without addressing the privacy concerns that are invariably raised by potentially interconnected customers.
“One of the advantages of the advanced meters is they operate over Verizon’s secure network with high levels of data encryption,” says Olearain. “Customers would have opted in to having the meters installed through their agreement with their utility.” Olearain also points out that many of the newer meters can detect tampering.
Verizon previously partnered on the initiative with Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO), an entity on the cutting edge of large-scale solar. The partnership was announced last year with HECO utilizing the system to measure, manage, and balance energy load while also tracking outages. Verizon helped HECO set up an expandable solar grid system that ultimately helped the company reduce its fossil fuel consumption.