The Smart Grid Vision: 21st Century Utility Industry Transformation

Forward-thinkers in the electricity industry have unified around the 21st century vision of the ‘smart grid'— an intelligent, IT-advantaged approach to power delivery and power markets. Over the long term, the smart grid vision seeks to transform the utility industry by making it more customer-interactive, more self-healing (in the event of a power disruption), and more defensible in the event of a cyber-attack or natural disaster.

The Smart Grid Vision

In the near term, the smart grid vision is focused on:

IT & Energy Operations Convergence: Baked into the smart grid vision is the notion of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), also referred to as ‘smart meters'. Smart meters, unlike legacy meters, enable always-on 2-way interactivity between utilities and their customers. Smart meters enable improved operations, labor savings, and enhanced visibility into energy consumption.

Consumer Participation & Empowerment: The smart grid vision also speaks directly to the issue of empowering consumers to participate directly in the future success of the grid through more intelligent and cost-effective consumption of electric power, as well as to profitably make their own renewable energy (e.g. home based solar) available for resale by the utility industry.

New Market Emergence: While IT/operations convergence and expanded customer empowerment are outstanding benefits in and of themselves, the smart grid vision goes further—enabling new energy- related markets to emerge. For example, with a smart grid foundation in place, a new generation of ‘smart appliances' are on the horizon, as well as consumer self-directed ‘smart home' management services. Additionally, the smart grid vision will accelerate adoption of green renewable energy (solar, wind), as well as greener battery-powered vehicles.

Improved Security & Reliability: In the post-9/11 world, critical infrastructure like electric utilities are now perceived as potential targets for both physical and cyber-attack—and can benefit from the improved security and system reliability baked into the smart grid vision. Additionally, when outages do occur, the system as a whole is more reliable and self-healing—while providing utilities and consumers with near-real-time visibility into events occurring on the grid.

For large, well-capitalized utilities, smart grid experimental pilots and field deployments have been underway for some time. But for many utilities, the large capital investments necessary to deliver on the promise of the smart grid have become prohibitive, especially against the background of a challenged economy. This economic speed bump can really slow down smart grid adoption. Technology innovator Leidos (PKA, SAIC) has creatively addressed this through their game- changing Smart Grid-as-a-Service offering.

Leidos (PKA, SAIC) Smart Grid-as-a-Service:  Changing the Game in Smart Grid Adoption

Leidos, previously known as, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) is a scientific, engineering, and technology applications company that uses its deep domain knowledge to solve problems of vital importance to the nation and the world, in national security, energy & environment, health and cybersecurity. The company's approximately 41,000 employees serve customers in the U.S. Department of Defense, the intelligence community, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, other U.S. Government civil agencies and selected commercial markets. Headquartered in McLean, Va., Leidos (PKA, SAIC) had annual revenues of approximately $10.6 billion for its fiscal year ended January 31, 2012.

Within the smart grid industry, Leidos (PKA, SAIC) has emerged as a first mover and first prover in delivering cloud-advantaged Smart Grid-as-a-Service or SGS. Leidos (PKA, SAIC) SGS offering was designed from the ground up to remove smart grid barriers to adoption for local utilities. How? By providing a modular, customizable, affordable subscription service that enables utility management to focus on their core business of energy operations—not the complexity of IT systems development and integration that goes hand in hand with smart grid enablement.

Leidos' SGS also enables local utilities to leapfrog beyond the pilot phase of smart grid experimentation, and move confidently into a smart grid future with total ROI clarity and zero obsolescence. Additionally, Leidos (PKA, SAIC)'s SGS offering, while leveraging the systems best practices and scale economics of large utilities, is not tied to any one infrastructure vendor roadmap— making SGS a true game changer in the smart grid market.

Leidos (PKA, SAIC) Smart Grid-as-a-Service makes available the full spectrum of smart grid functionality, including:

  • Smart Meters: installation and deployment of meters and smart meter head end
  • Field Communications: including real-time outage alerts
  • Enhanced Security: for defense against cyber-attacks
  • Cross-Application IT Integration: including back-office applications, business process customization, and both consumer and management portal development.

Validating its game-changing SGS strategy, Leidos (PKA, SAIC) was awarded a contract by Intelligent Energy Systems (IES) for smart grid solutions for four Alaskan communities.  Leidos (PKA, SAIC) and IES implemented Leidos (PKA, SAIC)'s Smart Grid- as-a-Service at these locations, and services have been on-line and running since December 2011.

The Alaskan deployment of SGS, an integrated hardware and software solution, provides advanced metering infrastructure, outage alerts, remote connection capabilities, as well as lays the foundation for the future integration of fuel, water, temperature, and alternative energy metering. Leidos (PKA, SAIC)'s SGS provides a complete community energy management environment on an OPEX subscription basis—just what was needed to lower energy costs and reduce dependence on expensive diesel fuel that has historically devastated local village economies.

The challenges of climate, environment, and information technology are especially great in these regions...Smart Grid-as-a-Service will deliver the immediate advantage of on-demand meter reads, improved operational efficiency, as well as reduced energy cost, and will support critical energy management decisions throughout the remote regions of Alaska."

- Steve Root, Assistant Vice President, Leidos (PKA, SAIC)

As a core ingredient of the SGS solution, Leidos (PKA, SAIC) leveraged NextAxiom's hyperService Platform to provide must-have cross-silo integration and unified intelligent information flow.