More power to you: Smart grid ready to move past advanced metering

There have long been hopes that the nation's electric grid would be a viable third wire to deliver broadband services. The problem is that the grid, more than half a century old and creaky as that might sound, is in dire need of upgrade just to carry electricity, let alone any kind of data. Still, the promise of using that pipe into the consumer home to, at a minimum, meter energy usage was always an end goal.

Now, utilities are using federal stimulus funds to build out a two-way advanced metering infrastructure on their electric grids as a first step to enabling "demand response/HAN (home area network) enablement," says a Green Tech Media (GTM) research report.

The report asked 50 leading utilities to describe how they'd like to use their end-to-end communications network. The majority, of course, said it would be smart metering that would save manpower by recovering utility usage information for billing and other purposes. A close second, though, was developing a wider scale home network environment to control devices within the home.

Along those same lines, the IEEE P1901 working group has further refined its coexistence mechanism for broadband over powerline (BPL) networks. The refinements will make it possible for consumers to continue using devices even when multiple technologies are connected to the same wire, the IEE said in a news release.

For more:
- see this story
- and this news release

Related articles:
Utilities inject smarts into the electrical grid
GE announces first US WiMAX-based smart-grid pilot
Smart grid goes beyond 'watts happening' to spy on homeowners

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