Blue Pillar Q&A: Big Data, Cloud, and the Smart Grid


Founded in 2006, Blue Pillar has managed thousands of energy asset endpoints via its Digital Energy Networks. Zpryme reached out to thought leader, Kevin Kushman, Chairman and CEO with Blue Pillar for a candid discussion on major utility headlines such as big data, cloud, and events such as Hurricane Sandy.

Q&A WITH BLUE PILLAR [Kevin Kushman, Chairman and CEO]

[ZP] How does Blue Pillar define the smart grid?

[BLUE PILLAR] Our view of the smart grid is different from the invested path of the stimulus/utility-driven AMI binge we’ve been on recently. Blue Pillar views the smart grid as a secure network of nodal energy assets (some production, some consumption, some conditioning/monitoring) that have real or near-real time situational awareness and predictive or rapidly-responsive dispatch or curtailment potential to balance load and supply across each segment of the value chain. Decisions are made based on node-specific information and capacity vs. via a centrally-planned regulatory schema.

Part of the problem is that the widely held premise of meter-led smart grid is not playing out in the optimal way… there needs to be more cohesive/asset-based planning. There have been a lot of wasted resources and efforts thus far, i.e. misallocation of capital, thanks to government incentives.

As it currently stands, I would say the “smart grid” could be described as: enabled asset end points operating as a cohesive portfolio to serve multiple stakeholders in this environment. Attributes of smart grid, at least in theory, could include:

  • Lower long-term cost of ownership
  • Distributed decision making and capacity provisioning
  • Grid stability
  • Power quality
  • Higher conversion of BTUs to KwH
  • Physical and cyber-secure network
  • Net result: Lower energy cost for all stakeholders

Additional – the market is creating massive streams of data borne out of huge government subsidized spends on meters…as a result, we have not been able to see much on the return side, but it has sold tons of meters.
The true definition of the smart grid… is still being defined, but needs to center on user empowerment, not just user behavioral modification through a centrally managed model.

[ZP] How are automated energy asset management systems for distributed energy resources impacting the way in which organizations consume electricity?

[BLUE PILLAR] As follows:

  • Identification of inefficient consumption…looking at wasteful and inefficient equipment and systems that are not using power in the right way.
  • Coupling up real-time awareness with an embedded controls environment that allows you to shape load intelligently. It no longer needs to be a guessing game.

On one side, you have meters collecting data, and on the other side are control systems that are not speaking to the other side, and there is no middle ground, no transactional layer between the two. You end up with a lot of data captured by all these meters, but most organizations lack the infrastructure and technology to do something with that data. It gets lost in translation, or worse yet, it is as if it is not even there. A tremendous opportunity lost.

The Holy Grail – assembling all of these energy sources as a portfolio of load balancing assets.

What’s the impact? Ringing out inefficiency and controlling consumption, unlocking capacity in other assets to change your load profile, which ultimately saves money by matching supply and load much more accurately.

Access the complete Blue Pillar Q&A here:  Zpryme Thought Leaders - Blue Pillar

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