By all rights, General Electric should have been a Smart Grid pioneer. It had the technology. It had the breadth. It had the industry experience. And it had a CEO —Jeffrey Immelt —who wanted to be on the forefront of all things green (as witness the company’s ecoImagination campaign).
Yet GE was notably absent during the early years. When our Smart Grid Central analysts originally profiled the company, they pointed to “pockets of technical excellence” marred by the lack of a “merged, coherent story.” (See link to story below.)
I recently spent time with John McDonald, General Manager of T&D Marketing for GE Energy. From what I can see, GE is quickly catching up. Three things in particular make me believe that GE will start marching at the front of the parade:
- A roadmapping initiative for utilities
- An internal roadmap for GE’s own efforts
- Updates and new applications for its GIS tool
Helping Utilities Build Maps to the Future
It was back in 2007 that I first started pounding the table about the lack of roadmaps for utilities. (See link below.) Experts such as McDonald and SGN contributor Erich Gunther were touting roadmaps years before that. A roadmap becomes a touchstone to judge future purchasing decisions; to ensure that the pieces will fit together; and to avoid overlap and redundancy. McDonald says flatly that utilities are unlikely to succeed at the Smart Grid without a roadmap that includes:
- The objectives of the utility
- The available technologies
- The standards
- The business case
Unhappily, few utilities have either the technical depth or the “social engineering” skills to bring together siloed departments and generate a coherent, multi-year game plan.