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IBM has teamed with eMeter to provide ready-made systems for public utilities to implement an IBM-managed smart grid to help improve their power usage and efficiency. The program is specifically targeted at mid-sized electric, gas and water utilities as part of IBM's smarter-planet strategy.
A smart grid uses two-way digital technology to deliver electricity to customers' homes and to control appliances to increase energy efficiency and reduce power use. A smart grid includes an intelligent monitoring system that keeps track of all electricity flowing in the system, new power lines to reduce the power lost during transmission and the ability to integrate alternative sources of electricity such as solar and wind.
By using a smart grid, power might be turned on to an appliance at a certain hour. For example, power to a dish washer or washing machine would come on during off-peak hours.
The U.S. federal government has allocated $4.3 billion for public utilities and other firms to build out smart grid programs, but many smaller utilities don't know how to begin building such a grid. That's where IBM (NYSE: IBM) and eMeter's turnkey system comes in.
The new eMeter Smart Grid Appliance helps these utilities take full advantage of stimulus funds while also getting smart grids quickly up and running with the core technology, tools, out-of-the-box adapters and best practices needed for quick and simpler deployments.
The eMeter Smart Grid Appliance is a combination of IBM hardware, software and best practices available preloaded on IBM's POWER7 system for rapid installation and implementation. Once set up, the smart grids should be able to automatically monitor and control two-way energy flows that allow consumers to manage energy usage right down to an individual networked appliance.
The bundle consists of a POWER7 processor-based server running IBM Tivoli Monitoring and WebSphere 7 Application Server software with eMeter EnergyIP meter data management and Energy Engage home energy solutions. The IBM servers are optimized to handle billions of transactions securely and efficiently.
IBM and eMeter promise that by deploying these meters and best practices, utilities can reduce the implementation and test cycle time for a smart grid from a year to as little as six months, and shave as much as 60 percent off the implementation cost.
IBM and eMeter have jointly developed these technologies and programs to enable utilities to establish the necessary policies and roll-out strategies for smart grids. Utilities can achieve much greater operational efficiency with smart-grid technologies, as well as more precise measuring of power consumption by individual customers.
"By eMeter leveraging IBM technology, our utility clients will be able to streamline their Advance Metering Infrastructure projects and reduce implementation and operational costs associated with their smart grid programs," said Allan Schurr, vice president of strategy for IBM's energy and utilities division.
The Smart Grid Appliance will become available in the second quarter of 2010.