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IBM launches utility coalition

Antony Savvas

IBM has established the Intelligent Utility Network Coalition to help business users manage their energy costs more efficiently, and to develop energy efficient products and services.

The first company to join the coalition is US energy utility CenterPoint Energy, which is expected to be followed by others in Europe and Asia.

Tom Standish, CenterPoint Energy group president for regulated operations, said, "We expect that the intelligent grid will improve electric power line grid planning, operations, and maintenance, enabling us to deliver power more efficiently.

“We also expect such technology to contribute to fewer and shorter outages and higher productivity, while maintaining high levels of data security. The technology involved will create a platform for exciting new products and better service for our customers," said Standish.

IBM and CenterPoint Energy aim to enhance the efficiency and reliability of utility operations at CenterPoint Energy, and to increase the ability of customers to manage and use energy in a more cost-effective and energy-efficient way.

IBM and CenterPoint Energy have been collaborating on several projects including the initial limited deployment of an Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI), which allows remote connection and disconnection of service and automated meter reads for customers in the Houston area.

In the future, this technology is designed to allow retail electric providers (REPs) in the Texas market to offer customers enhanced products and services, and to facilitate movement by customers between electric providers.

The new technology is also expected to give customers the ability to better manage their energy usage using real-time price signals and the ability to remotely control appliances to reduce consumption.

In conjunction with the AMI project, IBM and CenterPoint Energy are implementing components of a "self-healing grid," which will provide grid data, information and analytics to improve outage detection and outage restoration times, grid planning, and ongoing operations.

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Related article: National Grid keeps things simple with IT blueprint

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