Utilities Head to the Cloud: The Industrial Internet Helps Modernize the Grid0

Ysabel Yates | Thu Nov 29 2012

The world’s electricity demand is expected to increase more than 70 percent by 2035. This steep increase will present utilities with costly capacity, environmental and security needs – that’s why GE is helping manage these changes with the power of “intelligent machines” that reduce costs and improve efficiency.

GE’s internet-based management system Grid IQ™ “Solutions as a Service” (SaaS) enables utilities around the world to upgrade their grid networks and benefit from immediate information transfer and interconnectedness.

The technology was cited as one of nine industrial service technologies that are creating more modern, interconnected businesses in a 21st century economy by GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt at a conference held this week in San Francisco.

“The internet has changed the way we consume information and talk with each other, but now it can do more,” Immelt said at Minds + Machines 2012: Unleashing the Industrial Internet. “By connecting intelligent machines to each other and ultimately to people and by combining software and big data analytics, we can push the boundaries of physical and material sciences to change the way the world works.”

The Grid IQ™ SaaS technology combines the benefits of advanced metering infrastructure, outage management systems, interactive voice response, demand optimization systems and geospatial information systems into simple, hosted, subscription-based packages. Integrated services also offer utilities greater grid modernization capabilities by better managing electricity loads.

“GE’s Grid IQ™ SaaS offers utilities a new method for monitoring, managing and controlling their grids more intelligently,” said Mike Carlson, general manager of smart grid solutions for GE’s Digital Energy business. “The menu of services available under our hosted SaaS server program offers utilities a cost-effective alternative for meeting their data management challenges.”

Consumers benefit by engaging through a Web portal, allowing them to make smarter decisions and better manage their electricity, water and gas use.

The system meets the needs of smaller and mid-market utilites that want to avoid the overhead expenses involved with developing their own smart grid management networks.

Already, cities in Georgia are partnering with GE and utilities to utilize the Grid IQ SaaS tools to improve energy efficiency and to reduce cost.

“We are proud to offer this new service to our member communities as they pioneer the future of energy in Georgia. To offer the best service, we have teamed with GE — a trusted industry leader — to implement low-cost, effective solutions and to improve the use and delivery of energy to the cities’ customers,” said Keith Bass, CEO of Electric Cites of Georgia.

“The City of Norcross is the first municipality in Georgia to take advantage of our Grid Modernization service, which provides a low-risk improvement of utility operations and ultimately benefits their customers.”

Using a cloud computing services model, these capabilities can be deployed in 50 percent less time than traditional turnkey project models and 10 percent of the estimated implementation cost.

In addition to helping better manage resources, the Industrial Internet is expected to spur economic growth. In the U.S alone, the Industrial Internet has the potential to boost average incomes by 25 to 40 percent over the next twenty years, according to the results of a new report written by Peter C. Evans, GE’s director of global strategy and analytics, and Marco Annunziata, GE’s chief economist.

Top image: Courtesy Flickr user Keoni Cabral