Foreword: September Issue

Written by Doug Houseman


Welcome to the September issue of the Smart Grid Newsletter. It is my pleasure and honor to edit this edition.

Having been involved in what we now call “smart grid” or grid modernization since the 1980s one piece has always frustrated and slowed the effort to build our grid of the future, that is enough bandwidth to support the communications and control that supports the operation of the grid. This is especially true at the distribution level, which is the portion of the grid that connects the bulk power system to the customers. With billions of end points around the world, and the number growing from rooftop photovoltaics, storage systems, electric vehicles, and building energy management systems, the need to send and receive more information to manage the grid is growing rapidly. Bandwidth and latency are two critical factors in monitoring and controlling the distribution grid. In the 1990s most of the distribution grid was autonomous, and meters were read by meter readers walking their routes with a clipboard. This began to really change with ENEL’s installation of 27 million automated meter readers in Italy. From there more than 700 million automated meters have been installed globally, using all sorts of communication. Joining the meters are distribution automation devices like reclosers, controllable capacitor banks, voltage regulators, and other equipment. Today more than 1 billion end points on the distribution grid report their status. By 2050 that number will probably pass 2 billion, with the deployment of more Photovoltaics, storage, and electric vehicles.


The articles in this issue deal with:

  • Utility owned communications of the cellular sort, decoupling the commercial need to change standards every decade, allowing the utility to manage their communications growth pace and avoiding having to revisit every device 3 or 4 times during its normal lifespan to change the communications mode.
  • What to think about when dealing with 5G cellular systems, and what a utility may need that the vendors may not understand.
  • How to think about trust in a cyber-security relationship. Trust being one of the most important items in most attempts to hack into a system and create issues for the operator.
  • Finally, there is a short article on bandwidth needs, looking at many of the smart grid and smart city demands for bandwidth. The article is intended to help people size up how much bandwidth is required.


I wish to thank everyone reading this Newsletter for taking the time to do so, and hope that the information in the articles is useful and worth your time. 




This article edited by Jorge Angarita

For a downloadable copy of the September 2021 eNewsletter which includes this article, please visit the IEEE Smart Grid Resource Center.

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Doug Houseman Grid Modernization Lead, Burns & McDonnell: Doug has extensive experience in the energy and utility industry and has been involved in projects in more than 70 countries. Doug is a leader in grid modernization thinking, he was asked to author significant portions of the IEEE’s GridVision 2050, DOE’s QER and to revise CEATI’s Distribution Utility Technology Roadmap. Doug is a NIST fellow and member of the GridWise Architecture Council (GWAC) where he had a hand in both the Smart Grid Interoperability Maturity Model and Transactive Energy. He has led the IEEE Power and Energy Society’s Intelligent Grid Coordinating Committee and Emerging Technology Committee for the last five years. He has presented more than 20 tutorials and webinars for grid modernzation for IEEE.

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