“By laying out the framework early,
the project team
a clear under-
standing of the
moving the project
forward in a
—Paula Campbell, Southern California
Edison, Rosemead, California, USA
SmartConnect program office
at Southern California Edison,
Rosemead, California, USA.
Under the program, the utility
plans to replace about 5 million existing traditional meters
with smart ones.
“By laying out the frame-
work early, the project team
and executive sponsors have a
clear understanding of the
protocols and processes for
moving the project forward
in a timely manner.”
As part of that framework,
teams must establish project
parameters that can scale
with the initiative’s growth. Developing
the SmartConnect controls and prac-
tices over time, Ms. Campbell says,
“allowed us to monitor them, gather
feedback from the project team and
continuously improve them so they
would be prepared to support full-scale
ALL SYSTEMS SECURE?
One of the biggest concerns with smart-grid projects has been security. By their
very nature, smart grids are communication networks, so controls to prevent
both unintended breakdowns and
intentional sabotage are paramount.
“With smart grids, you could conceivably shut down whole networks from
another country,” Mr. Van Meter says.
To avoid such high-profile breaches,
he urges project managers to tackle the
issue early on.
“A lot of utilities address the technol-
ogy first and put off the cyber-security
until later because there is no one on
their team with that expertise,” he says.
“But that can be a disaster.”
Given all the project variables, a tal-
ent gap isn’t surprising. That means
utility companies often have to bring in
experts, but here, too, due diligence is
When Piedmont Electric Membership
Corp. launched a project to install
smart meters for its 31,000 customers,
the small organization partnered with a
utility management company as well as
a meter supplier offering secure data
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Good stakeholder communication will
ultimately impact the way people manage
their electricity use—and how a project
fares, Mr. Rizzo says. “If you don’t do
this properly, you can face a negative
reaction from the community.”
Fears about security and unrealistic
expectations about what a smart grid
can accomplish could derail a project.
“The utility has to define the benefit
to the consumers,” Mr. Hagan says.