IBM: Smart Grid Projects are Getting, Well, Smarter

March 11, 2011 No Comments

One of the most notable things about IBM’s latest smart grid project isn’t necessarily the size of the effort — the utility it is working with, Progress Energy, is putting in more than $520 million — it is the comprehensive nature of the initiative. This is NOT your average smart metering project. It involves a focus on managing power quality and in addressing distribution management, so that Progress will be able to handle the addition of renewable energy sources as well as the impact of plug-in electric vehicles.

“We are really starting to see our clients broaden their thinking when it comes to the smart grid,” said Michael Valocchi, energy and utilities industry lead for IBM’s Global Business Services Unit, when I spoke with him about the project. “Last year, there was an uptick in the distribution part of the business. Now we are starting to see utilities put things together.”

It should know: IBM now is involved with more than 150 different smart grid initiatives in both major and emerging economies.

Its deal with Progress Energy covers the efforts of two utilities in the Carolinas and Florida. Aside from the money that the utility is putting in on its own, the project includes $200 million from a smart grid grant that was awarded by the United States Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The core focus is on making power distribution smarter and more reliable. The specific technologies involved include distribution management, advanced metering, meter data management, and demand response applications.

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