Smart Grid Culture War? Power Guys vs. Netheads

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The Smart Grid can be described as the fusion of digital communications with the electrical power system, unleashing real-time information flows to dramatically improve efficiency and reliability. This fusion of technologies also represents a mixture of technical cultures. The emerging caricature is of “netheads” (data network engineers), fresh from creating a ubiquitous Internet and conquering the telecom industry, arriving on the scene to “fix” a broken-down electrical system.

On the other side, the “power guys” (power system engineers), proud guardians of the 20thcentury’s greatest engineering achievement, look at their fun-but-intermittent browser experiences and wonder how anyone thinks this technology is remotely reliable enough. This is a potentially volatile mix – worlds where even the term “network” has different meanings – and industry decision makers need to be aware how this culture-clash might influence Smart Grid evolution.

Netheads make a compelling argument: The grid needs integrated, consistent, flexible, and, most of all, secure end-to-end connectivity. The decoupled layering of the Internet Protocol (IP) suite is the only alternative to today’s vertically-integrated, application-siloed grid systems. Resistance is futile!

But netheads must understand that the vast soup of protocols vaguely included in the “IP suite” was engineered for voice, video, and data applications with rather forgiving humans as the usual end clients. In contrast, many Smart Grid applications are machine-to-machine control systems – with sometimes very big machines, redefining for netheads the term “big iron.” An overloaded datacom network might result in a dropped phone call, a slow web page, or a garbled movie. An overloaded electrical power network can result in a big BOOM!

On the other hand, the power guys need to realize that the protocol layering implicit in IP is essential for long term adaptability, even if less efficient than a vertically optimized solution for a given function. Many traditional telecom engineers learned this the hard way – witness the ongoing liquidation of telecom behemoth Nortel Networks. But this does not mean that “IP-ness” is a one-size-fits-all magic pixie dust, as much of today’s hype might imply. A substation automation, distribution automation, or AMI network “based on IP” does not automatically deliver interoperability or “standards compliance.” IP is simply a tool that helps unlock the benefits of breaking down applications silos.

So the netheads and power guys have a lot of work to do – together – and the good news is that it is getting done. But it’s a good thing that engineers tend to be such an affable bunch!

Bob Gohn is a senior analyst with Pike Research, a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth assessment of global clean technology markets.


Seeking a Director of Partnerships & Business Development

Director of Partnerships & Business Development – EV infrastructure for a publicly traded international energy provider.

The Director of Partnerships & Business Development is responsible for cultivating, negotiating and managing external business relationships that are critical to the success of the Electric Vehicles Services business. Responsible for maintaining awareness of all external industry developments and identifying existing and emerging companies with skills, resources and other capabilities that can help the business unit achieve its objectives. Expected to establish relationships, promote benefits of partnering with client, defining partnership objectives, negotiating commercial terms and managing ongoing relationship.

• Acquire and maintain knowledge of industry trends and developments across entire electric vehicle value chain – from battery suppliers to auto manufacturers to infrastructure providers and utilities/charging service providers
• Pursue opportunities to expand our service offering and capabilities in new market segments, new sales/service delivery channels, and emerging battery, vehicle and charging technology
• Based on understanding of market trends, bring forward ideas and opportunities to invest in and/or create new business ventures, and inform product development of emerging market needs
• Manage partnership structuring and negotiation in situations where we are developing business opportunities with third parties
• Guide professional development of team members, ensuring they obtain necessary skills and capabilities to deliver committed outcomes

Reports to: Vice President
Location: Houston, Texas

Bachelors degree from an accredited four year college or university with major in Finance, Economics, Accounting, Engineering, or Sciences
• MBA or relevant graduate degree is preferred but not required

• 10+ years experience in strategy, business development, and/or investment banking
• 5+ years in either automotive or energy industry with a preference toward electricity
• 5+ year deal structuring and negotiation experience

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:
• Outstanding networking and relationship management skills
• Strong leadership skills capable of driving change across the organization
• Capable of building, growing, and mentoring a high performance team
• Ability to communicate and interact effectively at all levels of the organization
• Able to manage competing interests and drive to a resolution
• Ability to execute multiple projects at a high level of quality
• Ability to manage and prioritize multiple tasks while adapting to changing environment
• Excellent quantitative and analytical skills including framework and execution
• Excellent oral and written communication skills
• Ability to synthesize analysis into recommendations and management presentations
• Performs well with ambiguity and incomplete data
• Strong knowledge of automotive and/or electricity markets
• Personal computer proficiency with word processing, presentation software, superior spreadsheet skills and database skills
• Comfort working in a fast-paced environment with minimal supervision

Working Conditions:
• Fast pace professional office environment
• 50%+ travel
• Will require overtime

Email qualified, chronological resume to
Company offers exceptional benefits package including relocation.

Advanced Vehicle Stimulus

Advanced Vehicle Stimulus

By EV World Television

Matt Rogers, the Senior Advisor to U.S. Energy Secretary addressed closing session of Business of Plugging In conference, October 2009.

As Senior Advisor to the U.S. Energy Secretary on the The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, it is Matt Roger's responsibility to monitor how effectively the Department's $36.7 billion slice of the bill is being spent to stimulate green tech jobs that will insure America remains competitive in the race to develop advanced vehicles and renewable energy technologies.

In this three-part video, he explains how the department's share of the $787 billion in stimulus spending is being allocated. Here's a short list:

* Funding for 3 electric vehicle factories
* Funding for 20 advanced battery plants
* Funding for 10 electric-drive vehicle component plants

In addition, the DoE funding is facilitating the acquisition of 4,000 electric vehicles, 9,000 alternative fuel vehicles, plus their required support infrastructure. Through a combination of grants, loans and loan guarantees, the Department anticipates leveraging its $36.7 billion into some $100 billion in new technology investments, bringing in private capital "from the sidelines."