As I speak on Smart Grid panels and work with members of our utility companies, I have been somewhat amazed at where the utilities are drawing their line of demarcation. The meter is the end of the world from the utilities perspective and they appear to have no desire to look beyond the meter -- into the home, or commercial building -- to better manage power and to understand more about the specific power usage by the consumer. There are emerging companies that are providing intelligence on the consumer side of the meter, but the utilities continue to stand clear of that space. But why -- well the reasons are many from security concerns around collecting and managing that level of data, to the fact that many utilities are still regulated and therefore have little real incentive to pursue more intelligence at the endpoint.
So what does this mean to the utility? I love parallels and I have to draw a parallel between the smart grid boundaries and what I have seen with my Internet Service Provider. Many years ago, the ISP was one's first point of access whenever one connected to the internet. The ISP provided email, and was the link to all services one wanted on the net. But that is no longer true. I personally never access my ISP's web portal, instead preferring other portals such as Google as my link to the web. My ISP is still there, but they now have no ability to obtain additional value from my connection through them because they have become simply a pipeline to the internet.
It appears the utilities are setting themselves up to become simply a "power provider" with minimal additional values to the consumer. For commercial buildings, solutions such as IBM's Intelligent Building Manager will be well positioned to talk to the "Smart Grid" while providing the intelligence needed to truly make a difference for the consumer. The utilities will continue to drive smart grid, but primarily for the producer side and the benefits that the utilities will see as they modernize the power distribution network. There is immeasurable value in that for the producers, and for consumers in the form of better availability, etc but much of the hype around the smart grid for two way interaction with consumers is just that -- hype ....
Is the Smart Grid as Smart as it should be?