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Itron partners with northeast U.S. utility to study advanced smart grid options

On Wednesday, as Itron reported mixed earnings, the Liberty Lake utility technology maker and service provider also announced it's taking part in an East Coast smart grid demonstration project.

Itron and National Grid, a northeast U.S. utitlity, announced they will be partners on a project to build and evaluate advanced smart grid systems in Massachusetts.

Here's where the geeky tech stuff shows up in the story: the two firms will field-test the multi-application capabilities of the new Itron-Cisco IPv6 based smart grid solution, including advanced metering, home area networking (HAN) and distribution automation (DA). That "stuff" is the typical and more or less standard set of tools the smart grid depends on.

OK, then, what's the key news here?  The press report says the system will use Cisco technology that allows a utility to exchange information with its residential and business customers without requiring them to all use just one proprietary set of equipment or applications.

As designed, that makes the smart grid more open-standards based, sort of like the way the Web is designed.

It's a big deal because this allows an electric utility do have a grid system across a diverse set of customers, including large industrial customers, or when dealing with a dispersed group of home customers, some of whom may be using different home metering products than others across the utility map are using.

If you really want all the other details, here's the official Itron release.

Itron and Cisco not long ago announced they had a similar deal for BC Hydro, one of Canada's largest electric utilities. Here's a summary of the project being done in British Columbia.




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Tom Sowa
Tom Sowa covers technology, retail and economic development and writes the Office Hours blog.





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