cleantech insights

OG&E: A Recipe For Smart Grid Stew

Greg Neichin

I wrote earlier in the month about OG&E’s regulatory approval for its smart meter rollout.  The deployment continues to be a source of interesting news: this time it is an announcement of a new slate of vendors being added to the mix of the utility’s recipe for smart grid stew.

I spend a great deal of time in my research and client work trying to make sense of the smart grid vendor ecosystem, deciphering the desires of utility buyers for best-of-breed vs. integrated solution providers, and analyzing how a myriad of smart grid elements (hardware, software, communication networks, services, etc.) will come together to enable a truly smarter grid.  This is why I get overly-excited to pick apart vendor announcements from the likes of OG&E.

The utility is fast becoming an interesting laboratory for a diverse multi-vendor deployment.  Let’s review some of what has been previously publicly disclosed:

  • Smart Meter: GE Energy
  • AMI Network: Silver Spring Networks
  • Meter Data Management: EnergyICT (Elster)
  • Customer Portal/DR Interface: Silver Spring Networks (Customer IQ)
  • Meter Installation Services: Corix Utilities

Last week’s announcement added three new vendors into the mix:

  • Private Wide Area Network: Alcatel-Lucent
  • Distribution Management System: ABB
  • Asset/Field Inventory Services: Osmose Utilities Inc.

What’s interesting about the new ingredients?

While not high drama, the selection of Alcatel-Lucent to build a private network for metering backhaul and distribution automation (DA) is worthy of attention.  While Silver Spring has established itself, and its RF Mesh topology, as a leader in the market for meter data collection, it is also eager to demonstrate that the technology has legs for DA deployments and wider grid operational duties that require lower latencies and bullet-proof reliability.  Whether OG&E considered Silver Spring for this piece of the network is unclear (the company clearly has a strong relationship with the utility given the selection of Customer IQ for in-home applications).  What is clear is that OG&E will be deploying a hybrid network, much like most utilities, for its full suite of communication needs.

The selection of ABB for its DMS system is also straightforward as the company has established itself as a leader in this space.  The deployment will likely require some integration with EnergyICT, Elster’s MDM package.  ABB and Elster have collaborated on smart grid projects in the past and have a closely shared legacy (Ruhrgas, the precursor to the Elster Group, acquired ABB Electric and Water Metering in 2002).

Finally, the addition of Osmose to the services mix still leaves an open question as to who is tasked with ultimately blending this smart grid stew? Is OG&E playing chef? Is there a master systems integrator that I have not seen announced? Does anyone know who is making sure this cake bakes for just the right amount of time?

Your help, my readers, is appreciated!

To get this and other Cleantech Insights stories delivered weekly to your inbox, sign up for the Inside Cleantech Newsletter:



You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
You can leave a response, or create a trackback from your own site.

  • Stacey Wood

    OG&E does have a master cook in the kitchen assisting them as a partner in their overall Smart Grid plan. The Structure Group has been the solution integrator working with OG&E over the past 2 years in the development and implementation of the OG&E Smart Grid program.