Not long ago when Schneider Electric’s Mark Feasel would make an appointment to talk to a utility about microgrids, he’d usually get shuffled off to the ‘smart guy’.The smart guy is interesting, but he has no budget and therefore no real influence. Being sent to him signaled the utility’s lack of enthusiasm.But something has changed. For one thing, Feasel has noticed the smart guy is no longer the only one talking about microgrids. At energy conferences, for example, C-suite utility leaders now take the podium.
General Electric Co. is launching its own Internet of Things cloud service for infrastructure industries including transportation, oil and gas utilities and aviation, according to several reports.The platform-as-a-service Predix Cloud will “will capture and analyze the unique volume, velocity and variety of machine data within a highly secure, industrial-strength cloud environment,” GE said in an announcement.
New York is no stranger to the need for resilient, efficient power systems that withstand the wrath of Mother Nature. The increase in severe weather over the past several years has made it necessary for vulnerable regions across the state to find better ways to prepare and protect infrastructure from power outages. Every region of the state is studying the feasibility of installing a community microgrid, thanks to NY Prize Microgrid Competition funds awarded to 83 communities.
Studies have shown that customer education how and where customers want it is critical to the success of utilities. Utilities like the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and Avista are taking this to heart and offering their residential and small business customers detailed, customer-specific information directly from their utility website in a self-service format, allowing customers to learn about and explore options at their convenience.
Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota is going 100 percent solar — but the feat is becoming less and less rare. Universities across the country have been making the decision to add solar, wind, and other renewable programs to help offset their energy use — and utilities are getting involved. Macalester is receiving their solar energy through the SunEdison and Xcel Energy solar garden project, which, when completed, will allow customers to purchase a piece of the garden and receive credit on their electricity bill.