[Help] Last update at http://inet.nttam.com : Mon Aug 7 21:40:33 1995

Abstract -- Energy Utilities in the Internet and NII: Users or Providers? Users Track
U6: Community Networking

[Previous] [Table
[Paper [Paper
[Read Comments]

Energy Utilities in the Internet and NII: Users or Providers?

Aiken, Robert J. ( aiken@es.net)
Cavallini, John S. ( cavallini@nersc.gov)
Scott, Mary Ann ( scott@er.doe.gov)


In its bid to respond to evolving business requirements, the energy utility industry is exploring new ways to provide cost effective quality energy to its constituency while concurrently reducing the need for additional generation plants, consumption of non-renewable fuel resources, and generation of emissions . Their options cover a full spectrum that includes the utilities providing the "last mile" access to its customers for both generic internet access required for empowering the users as well as supporting the necessary utility applications. In one scenario the Energy utilities provide high speed NII access to both residences and industry over utility owned infrastructure in order to obtain the level of reliability they need as well as providing the infrastructure necessary to support real time energy supply and consumption management. In a second scenario, the energy utilities make use of a combination of their own infrastructure and that of existing service providers, such as cable and telecommunications companies to satisfy the same set of requirements. Either scenario can greatly increase the number of active nodes on the National Information Infrastructure (NII) and the Global Information Infrastructure (GII); and therefore have a large impact on the network .

As the utilities start making use of the Internet, NII, and GII for partial or total support of their own grid management and business activities, as well as utility to consumer transactions, they encounter certain obstacles that although are not unique are never the less foreboding due to the scale necessary for implementation. Imagine every house, industrial building, campus, office building, and the like having its own local area networks that include both information and energy appliances that need to communicate. Issues relevant to this application area include, but are not limited to: What protocols will be used? The use of multicast for broadcast of real time pricing information? What security and privacy issues will be introduced in this new model? What monetary/business/trade issues will be relevant when the distribution of energy and associated business transactions cross national boundaries? What communications and information models will be used for the utility to consumer interactions? What protocols are required to support re-aggregation of consumer responses to real time pricing updates or shortage notices? Will the building LAN be implemented over the existing power lines, telephone lines, cable, radio or other media? Will each building electrical outlet be addressable and will the smart appliances be nomadic (ie. a Laptop, toaster, etc.) .

This paper will outline the major areas and issues with respect to 1) the energy utilities use and possible provisioning of network services, 2) the current major business and regulatory issues, 3) the technical challenges facing an utility company wishing to use the Internet, NII, and GII to support both its internal and customer based communications needs; and 4) explore what models and technologies are required by both the utilities and their customers (e.g. premises LAN, the gateway to the premises, and the utility infrastructure) to support both energy demand management and possibly generic Internet/NII/GII access to the end user.