In this interview, Andres Carvallo outlines his vision for a fully realized Smart Grid, discusses why its importance goes beyond electric utilities, and pinpoints the major obstacles to success.
Question: You are a leading proponent of deploying the Smart Grid as an engine for economic progress in the U.S. What should our national goal be?
Our goal should be the complete automation of a nationwide grid. That implies many things including automated fault, detection, isolation and restoration, real-time load forecasting, dynamic volt/VAR control, and direct customer flow control of distributed energy resources like solar panels, electric vehicles and energy storage. The Smart Grid should be able to recognize and manage every device that it powers. Today, when something new is plugged into the grid, all that is typically known is the load. The grid of the future will be self-healing, distributed, interactive and intelligent enough to know if the device is a thermostat or a computer or a solar panel or an electric vehicle – and to manage them in real-time.
Question: What is the present state of affairs?
The good news is that Smart Grid genie is out of the bottle. But there is still a great disparity across the country in the degree of implementation. Some utilities such as Austin Energy, Oncor, and Centerpoint in Texas are very close to the automation goal. Baltimore Gas & Electric is well on its way. Utilities in California like Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, and other pockets of the country, are making good progress. But most utilities haven't even started in any significant way.
Question: Is there a single game-changing decision or policy that will be critical to optimizing Smart Grid deployment?
The best thing that could happen would be for the nation's Public Utility Commissions and Public Service Commissions (PUCs and PSCs) to enact a mandate for building the Smart Grid by 2020. This is not a totally new concept. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) initiatives have been mandated in 20 states. We need a mandate for a fully automated Smart Grid and it should be a national priority. In that regard, I think that the efforts of the IEEE in creating working groups and standards that help establish a common technology platform are essential to a successful, nationwide Smart Grid rollout.
Question: Why do you contend that the Smart Grid is not just an issue for public utilities and their customers but for the national interest as well?
A fully deployed Smart Grid will provide benefits far beyond those the electric power industry typically talks about — that is, better reliability, better outage management, greater energy efficiency use, customer empowerment and so on. Smart Grid 3.0 — which I refer to as Advanced Smart Grids Interconnected — will enable a better quality of life, create more jobs, improve education, power an era of wealth creation and even provide better healthcare for our people. We have to start thinking of the Smart Grid as the ultimate 21st century platform. It will give us a phenomenal quality of service at a reasonable — if not inexpensive — price. The Smart Grid will make our economy more competitive in a world where other nations are well on their way to building Smart Grids. Australia, China, Japan, India and Western Europe are all on the same journey and in many instances are ahead of us. It is not unreasonable to forecast that in the next decade, we will be talking about a Smart Grid divide in much the same way that we now talk about the Internet divide between the haves and the have-nots.
Question: Can you give a current example of an approach leveraging the Smart Grid as a platform?
In Austin Energy's service area, the Zero Energy Capable Homes (ZECH) program requires new single-family homes to be zero net-energy capable by 2015. These homes will be 65% more efficient than homes built to the Austin Energy Code in 2006. This does not mean that developers have to add, for example, a $100,000 solar energy system to a conventional home that might cost $150,000 to build. The goal is more one of assessing weather patterns and energy demands over a 12-month cycle and assuring zero energy over the course of a year.
Question: How would that work in practice?
In most areas of the country, five or perhaps ten days in a year establish the peak energy demand. During the remaining 360 days, energy use is substantially lower — sometimes very low. The idea is size the home's renewable energy system and its associated energy storage so that the home supplies its own power most of the time, extracts energy from the grid at peak times, and actually returns energy to the grid at times of low energy usage. Over a year, the net energy extracted from the grid is zero. In addition to generation and storage, increased energy efficiency is also a major contributor to a zero-energy home. I should add that although we cite solar panels when we talk about home-based distributed generation, it is just one option. The amount of natural gas available today and new, small-scale generation technologies will probably make gas-fired generation a viable option in the future for homes in some areas of the country.
Question: Speaking of new technologies, could you mention a few of the key technologies that will be integrated into the Smart Grid?
We've already mentioned distributed generation. Two other key technologies are microgrids and electric vehicles, which are likely to become an important energy storage resource. Energy generated during periods of low demand such as overnight can be stored in car batteries and used the next day. Other interesting technologies include sensors integrated into every device on the grid, telemetry everywhere, solid-state transformers, machine-to-machine networking, and advanced power control systems. The list goes on and on. But I should point out that there is no silver bullet, no one-size-fits-all solution.
Question: Although there may not be a silver bullet, what will bridge the gap between the various technologies being deployed so they work together seamlessly?
The interconnected aspect of Smart Grid 3.0 involves telecom and software. Ideally, each utility will approach its rollout from the perspective of a software architecture that includes not just the grid infrastructure but includes architectures for homes, buildings and other types of customers. At Austin Energy, we adopted The Open Group's Architecture Framework (TOGAF), which now has a Smart Grid template, and built our own architecture from it back in 2004. In addition, we should create a virtual network communications fabric that creates interoperability between the proliferation of networking technologies and frequencies being deployed by different utilities and even within the same utility. This enables the architecture to be technology agnostic.
Question: Earlier you mentioned that many utilities haven't even started on their Smart Grid journey yet. What's holding them back?
There's a deeply engrained supply-side management approach to power generation and distribution at most utilities. Supply side means that it is sufficient to provide customers with a connection to the grid adequate for their needs and to throttle generation up and down to maintain a 60-Hz balance that everything depends upon. For the most part, utilities have ignored the demand side of the equation. That has to change to a service-oriented paradigm. We need to deploy software, hardware, telecom and power to make the grid far more intelligent, dynamic and capable of two-way energy flow. As buildings, homes, and vehicles become intelligent and power generation enabled, utilities need to extend their thinking to connecting and collaborating with this new smart asset.
Question: What's standing in the way?
Most utilities are being impeded by their regulators and by their corporate culture and business processes. Utilities are typically vertically organized according to function. Over time, this results in a "siloed" corporate culture in which the different people responsible for generation, transmission, distribution, metering, customer service, and so forth don't talk to each other that much. They independently undertake projects that often use incompatible technologies. One of the most important steps we took at Austin Energy while I was Chief Information Officer was to create a technology governance process that encompassed everything from hiring to purchasing to how organization charts were created. We also created an Enterprise Data Council, a Project Management Office, a Technology Security Council, a Disaster Recovery Council, and an Enterprise Architecture Council to professionally manage how the people, process, and technology transformation would create a much better utility with happier customers. These cultural and business process changes are one of the main reasons that Austin Energy has been among the first utilities to achieve a successful Smart Grid rollout. While it is true that Smart Grid technology is far from trivial, it is not the most important barrier. In fact, a successful rollout depends a great deal on a highly functioning corporate culture.
As EVP and Chief Strategy Officer at Proximetry, Andres Carvallo is responsible for global strategy, branding, marketing, products, business development, commercialization, and solutions that deliver technology agnostic virtual network communications' fabrics for the energy, telecommunications, and transportation industries.
It all starts with my focus on the customer as the center of the lifecycle. The Lifecycle rules a discovery, planning, and maturity model process that orchestrates a framework. The framework, called RunITbiz, is made out of the 12 critical elements for Running IT as a Business. The elements are rationalized into demand and supply modules. At the core of the RunITbiz framework is a Service Oriented Architecture that leverages all legacy systems while powering new systems built on new open standards (Web Services, XML, BPEL, etc) including cutting edge Web 2.0 tools (Blogs, Wikis, AJAX, RSS, etc). My RunITbiz Framework has two main modules. One module focuses on Managing IT Demand as a Business and the second one on Managing IT Supply as a Business. Each module has six critical elements to master. Here are the modules and critical elements: Running IT Demand As A Business: 1. IT Governance, 2. IT Structure, 3. Portfolio Management, 4. Business Alignment, 5. Financial Management, 6. Marketing & PR Running IT Supply As A Business: 7. Enterprise Architecture, 8. Vendor Management, 9. Process Management, 10. Project Management, 11. Service Management, 12. Quality Management
I wish you great success in your transformation. And if you have any questions, don't hesitate to reply to any post in this blog or contact me.
1) Lifehacker - http://www.lifehacker.com/ - Lifehackers' motto says it all: "Don't live to geek, geek to live." This blog offers timesavers of just about every stripe, from Firefox shortcuts to tips from the "Getting things done" faithful. 2) IT Toolbox Blogs - http://blogs.ittoolbox.com/ - IT Toolbox has a number of "in the trenches" IT pros who talk about technology and management issues. There are specialist blogs dealing with security, databases and project management, among other subjects. It's a versatile site. 3) Valleywag - http://valleywag.com/ - Bring in the noise, bring in the snark. Valleywag is for those who believe that the tech industry lives or dies by the scuttlebutt pinging around Silicon Valley. And it's amusing for those of us who prefer that the lotus-eaters of Northern California stick with the dishing and tongue-wagging, leaving the rest of us to get the real work done. 4) Kotaku - http://kotaku.com/ - Kotaku is the snarky, gamer uber-blog. It has everything from reviews and gossip to cheat tips. Just about anything you'll ever need, including which game to buy and how to play it. 5) Danger Room - http://blog.wired.com/defense/ - Wired's military and defense blog writes about some of the coolest and scariest military technologies -- not to mention scandals, debates and other military news. Lots of video and imagery are included. 6) Gizmodo - http://gizmodo.com/ - Gizmodo's got the scoop on all the latest toys and cool and wacky inventions -- from high-def TVs and coffee makers to booze belts and USB drives. You've got to love a site that publishes photos of a solar-powered bathing suit. Yeah, they also blog about serious technology news too. 7) O'Reilly Radar - http://radar.oreilly.com/ - This is where you can read Tim O'Reilly (founder of O'Reilly publishing) and others discuss networking, programming, open source, intellectual property, politics and Web 2.0, emerging technology. 8) Techdirt - http://www.techdirt.com/ - Techdirt is a newsy, "tell it like it is" blog that frequently features debates on the hot issues in the Internet and computer fields. Scandals are a specialty. Simplicity is its hallmark. 9) Groklaw - http://www.groklaw.net/ - Groklaw's raison d'etre is needling SCO in its long-running patent fights against IBM and Novell, but the discussion sometimes veers toward other issues that involve technology, intellectual property, and government regulations. 10) Hack a Day - http://www.hackaday.com/ - Want to learn how to add USB to a cheap Linux router? Create a snake robot? How about an XBox 360 laptop? Hack a Day has these basement projects and many more. This site is for the serious techie. At the same time, it's good for a laugh or a new hobby. 11) Engadget - http://www.engadget.com/ - As Coke is to Pepsi, so Engadget is to Gizmodo. It's all about gear, gossip, techish issues and the occasional rant. It's got great product photos, and the editors have access to pre- and early-release gadgetry. Also, some really funny home-made junk. But we prefer Gizmodo. 12) Feedster - www.feedster.com/feedpapers/Technology - Like drinking from the hose. This Web page brings together blog sites about technology, sports, celebrity gossip, food, personal experiences -- you name it. It also offers a blog search feature that allows you to input words or phrases, and it has a very cool RSS aggregator for news feeds. It also injects some great humor into technology news. An all-around great site. 13) Forever Geek - http://forevergeek.com - Forever Geek is a great site with a myriad blogs on diverse topics, from technology and general interest news to movie and game reviews. Definitely a geek paradise. If you want to learn about the upcoming Iron Man movie or read a review of Photoshop CS3, this is the place to go. 14) Rough Type - http://www.roughtype.com/ - Nick Carr -- of "Does IT Matter?" fame -- has a sharp-minded blog that discusses all manner of issues and trends relating to technology. Always an entertaining read, Rough Type often locks horns with companies, people, technologies and policies that rub Carr the wrong way. 15) Smorgasbord - http://www.smorgasbord.net/ - Billed as a site for gadget- and game-loving geeks, this blog also serves up articles that cross over into the political and celebrity news of the day. The combination of entertainment value and tech news make Smorgasbord a top contender. 16) The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) - http://www.tuaw.com/ - TUAW offers collection of independent bloggers -- that is independent but not undecided or uninformed. It's a good source for Apple-related news. The only reason it didn't make the top 15 was its singular topic focus. 17) Elliot Back's blog - http://elliottback.com/wp/ - A self-professed computer scientist, Elliot posts everything from his opinions on why XML sucks, to the Titanic's passenger list and reviews of movies like 300. This site is diverse and well composed, offering great tips on topics such as increasing system performance and blocking spam. 18) Ed Foster's Gripelog - http://www.gripe2ed.com/scoop/ - There is a new crop of blogs that highlight poor customer service for consumer electronics, bad UIs and outright rip-offs, but Ed Foster has been doing it longer than anyone else. Check out these recent topics: Defective DRM, tricky warranties on plasma TVs and bad mobile phone service. 19) Gadgetell - http://www.gadgetell.com/ - This is a great site if you want to get the latest gadget and game news along with some topical opinion pieces. 20) 4sysops - http://4sysops.com/ - This is a very useful with well-written tips and how-to's for Windows admins.
Texas is fortunate to be home to a wealth of energy and technology expertise – an advantage soon to be the focus of a new institution: the Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technologies (CCET). Electric utilities, technology companies, and educational institutions in Texas have recognized the opportunity to work together to enhance the security, reliability, and efficiency of the electric infrastructure in Texas through research, development, demonstration, and commercialization of advanced technologies. CCET is moving forward with projects to produce innovation in the transmission, distribution, and use of electric energy that will maintain the state’s leadership in the industry and improve the economic well-being of all citizens. Current members include American Electric Power, Austin Energy, CenterPoint Energy, Oncor Electric Delivery, Direct Energy, Comverge, Reliant Energy, TXU Energy, Freescale Semiconductor, GridPoint, National Instruments, Intel, IBM, Itron, Current Group, LLC, Good Company Associates and the Texas Consortium for Electric Energy (TxCEE). For more information, please click http://www.electrictechnologycenter.com/
Andres Carvallo was selected in 2006 by CIO Magazine as an honoree of the worldwide award CIO 100 for his leadership in the CIO community for developing, implementing and capitalizing on innovation.
Honoree: Premier 100
Andres Carvallo was selected in 2006 by Computerworld as an honoree of the worlwide award Premier 100 IT Leader for his leadership in guiding the effective use of information technology to improve his company's business performance.
Honoree: Best in Class of Premier 100
Andres Carvallo was selected as one of the best 12 Premier 100 IT Leaders from the 100 honorees for 2006. As such, it is truly a once in a life time opportunity not only to be a Premier 100 IT Leader honoree but to be one of 12 of the best of the best. Furthermore, only 52 CIOs have been chosen as members of the Best in Class of Premier 100 out of the 700 honorees in the history of the award.
Honoree: IW 500 Award
Andres Carvallo was selected in 2007, 2008, and 2009 by InformationWeek Magazine as an honoree of the worldwide award InformationWeek 500 for his leadership in business-technology strategies, investments, and administrative practices as the CIO of one of America's most innovative companies.
Honoree: IT Executive of the Year Award
Andres Carvallo was selected as IT Executive of the Year in 2006 by the Association of Information Technology Professionals and the Innotech Austin Expo and Conference for his demonstrated leadership skills in the areas of product or service development and benefits, team management and guidance, and overall community service.