Do recent weather events in North America help the Smart-Grid movement

Michael Markides, Associate Director, Metering & Energy Management Group, IHS



In late June 2012, a severe storm hit parts of the eastern US, leaving residents and businesses without power for upwards of one week ( Over the past several years in North America, these events seem to have become more common, or at least more visible, often leading to intense criticism directed towards the electric utilities responsible for taking too long to restore power. This latest outage left some residents without electricity during a record-breaking heat wave, with temperatures reaching above 100 °F. Overhead power lines present a significant liability in North America, as a large violent storm can take out lines across a large service area. This leaves behind a mess for the operating utility, who must locate all downed lines and restore power, often requiring manpower beyond what may be regularly on hand. Utilities and residents alike acknowledge that downed lines are inevitable; however, growing anger from residents is rooted in the excessive time needed to restore power, particularly during harsh weather. New regulations, along with increased understanding and deployment of new technology are being implemented to cut downtime. IMS Research has recently published an update to its annual market study on the distribution automation market, highlighting utility investment in new technology on the medium voltage layer of the electric grid. IMS Research forecasts more of the available utility funds will be shifted towards investment on distribution automation equipment and related platforms, with a critical portion going towards FDIR (fault detection, isolation, and restoration) schemes. Automated switches, smart reclosers, retrofit switch-control modules, and communicating fault detectors are all forecast to see increased sales globally, with the highest market volumes seen in North America. IHS