The smart grid. We’ve given this idea of networks intelligently connecting consumers and utilities in a two-way partnership of energy efficiency management a lot of air time of late. We chatted with People Power about its idea of letting end users develop their own devices for understanding smart grid data. We picked Intel’s brain on its role inside the machines of the smart grid. Now we come to perhaps the biggest interview of all in this occasional smart grid series: GE. General Electric, of any single company, has what looks to be the greatest to gain in seeing a successful smart grid roll out nationwide. They’ve developed a wide array of things around this grid concept, ranging from renewable energy generators like wind turbines to the “smart” appliances which monitor and communicate across the network energy usage patterns.
To help us break down how deeply involved GE is in smart grid technology and what the smart grid looks like as a whole, we turned to Bob Gilligan, vice president of GE Energy’s transmission and distribution business, with our questions. He provided us with very detailed responses which we’ve decided to leave in their entirety to provide you the best information possible. We apologize in advance for the length of this article, but do believe you’ll gain a lot of understanding about the smart grid (including GE’s role) from reading it.
EarthTechling: What does GE define as the “smart grid?”
Bob Gilligan: The smart grid marries information and automation technologies with our current electrical infrastructure, helping us support our 21st century energy needs. The smart grid is essentially an “energy internet,” delivering real-time information and knowledge – empowering smarter energy choices and delivering significant benefits. For example, smart grid delivers greater productivity and efficiencies, helping utilities and consumers do more with less – which is especially important considering the limitations of our current grid and the increased demand created by greater consumer electronics usage and, soon, the introduction of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Smart grid also helps us optimize clean, domestic energy sources (like wind, solar and biogas) to enable broader integration so we can more efficiently manage the use of these sources as load demand changes between peak and non-peak periods. Smart grid also empowers consumers with information about their energy usage so they can make choices to save money without compromising their lifestyle.