“With regards to smart grid, we’re on the brink of a flood of smart grid projects,” says Wanda Reder, chairwoman of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Smart Grid Task Force. “The federal government released $4.3 billion in economic stimulus money for smart grid through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in December.”
Reder and IEEE are not the only ones planning to invest in smart grid technology. A recent new market special issue of The Zweig Letter from ZweigWhite outlines the reasons why more firms are getting involved in smart grid work and the myriad opportunities that should be available in this arena.
“There’s a lot of opportunity,” says Reder. “The time is now. We have more money, more incentive, and more interest in taking this to a whole new level. We’re thinking about the consumers more than ever before. With the communication piece of smart grid, it’s all about making this a system of systems.”
According to Godfrey Mungal, dean of the Santa Clara University School of Engineering, as many as 30 employees of local engineering firms attended a one-day smart grid overview at the school last fall. Mungal says the program is likely to be repeated next fall and that smart grid could eventually be included more formally in the school’s graduate certificate program on renewable energy.
“Many engineers look at smart grid as where the future is, and they see job openings that fit with what they’re doing here,” says Mungal. “The Obama administration has made it pretty clear this is a priority for them.”
Additionally, Reder sees no end in sight for smart grid advancements and improvements now that the “genie is out of the bottle.”
“There’s always going to be an opportunity to make the grid a little smarter, a little more dynamic,” says Reder. State and local utilities are likely to follow the federal wave of activity; however, many states aren’t involved in smart grid yet because they haven’t yet adopted legislation. According to Reder, California “has always been a leader in the thinking, but all states are in different spots of this challenge."
Additional information about the growing work in smart grid can be found in the full issue of The Zweig Letter at www.zweigwhite.com/p-927-new-markets-focus.aspx.