Smart Grid Heavy Hitter series – Oracle’s Guerry Waters

I decided to run a series of interviews with people deeply involved in the Smart Grid space. I’m calling it the Smart Grid Heavy Hitters series. I will publish a new interview every Thursday until I run out of interviewees (or out of energy – poor pun intended, sorry!).

In this, the first of my Smart Grid Heavy Hitters’ interviews, I talk to Oracle’s VP of Industry Strategy, Guerry Waters.

It was a great interview – in it we talked about:

  • Oracle’s vision of a successful Smart Grid
  • The benefits of Smart Grids
  • The requirements for a successful Smart Grid rollout
  • The impacts of regulations on Smart Grid rollouts
  • Examples of Smart Grids and
  • Oracle’s place in the Smart Grid ecosystem

I’d like to thanks Guerry and Oracle for being such willing participants in this project and Ludovic Leforestier for helping make this interview happen!.


Oracle’s Turning Information into Power report

Oracle Turning information into power report

Oracle released the results of a research report last week called “Turning Information into Power“.

The report had some interesting findings – from the press release:

Americans are concerned about energy costs and show interest in new energy options.

  1. 94% are concerned with the energy costs of their primary residence.
  2. 95% are interested in receiving detailed information on their energy use.
  3. 76% are interested in renewable energy technologies for their home – and 72% of those respondents state that “reducing personal energy costs” is the most important benefit of renewable energy.

Other interesting findings include:

  1. When asked to give their utility suppliers a grade on their “current ability to provide detailed, useful information on energy consumption,” only 14% of Americans gave their utility an “A.” When grading themselves on the same question, only 16% of utility managers gave their organizations an “A.”
  2. While more than half (58%) of electricity and multi-service utilities surveyed currently offer net metering programs – which allow homeowners to generate their own renewable energy or sell it back to their utilities – just 11% of these utilities say their customers are actively pursuing the programs.

This clearly demonstrates a communications issue between the utilities and their customer base.

While on Smart Grids –

  1. 91% of utility managers believe it is critical that the U.S. adopts smart grid technologies.
  2. 41% of utilities have assessed the opportunity for smart grid technologies and
  3. Utility managers believe “upfront consumer expenses” (42%) and a “lack of consistent industry technology standards” (30%) will be the biggest roadblocks to maximizing benefits of the smart grid

There is a lot of interesting information to digest in this report – mainly though it is good news. The American people want more information on their energy use, they are interested in renewables and microgeneration. The renewables, for their part, believe that rolling out smart grids is critical, provide net-metering programs but don’t, as yet, provide detailed useful information on energy consumption in their bills.

Both sides perceive the biggest obstacle to the rollout of smart grids is financial.

Let’s hope that the $11bn pledged to the implementation of smart grids by the Obama stimulus plan will break down some of these barriers.

I hope to be interviewing Guerry Waters, vice president, industry strategy, Oracle Utilities about this report in the coming weeks, if you have any questions you’d like me to put to Guerry, please feel free to leave them in the comments.


Oracle’s Utilities Meter Data Management taking off


Photo credit Not Quite a Photographr

Interesting bits of news from Oracle on the Smart Grid front in the last couple of days:

  1. Oracle recently released Oracle Utilities Meter Data Management 1.5, which includes enhancements to help accelerate advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) integrations, to ultimately lower implementation costs for utilities that are implementing smart metering programs, to detect outages more quickly, drive energy efficiency initiatives and provide more accurate billing information to customers.
  2. UtiliPoint reported that Oracle won seven out of 14 major meter data management customers in 2008 (no link, sorry as UtilitiPoint charge around $3,000 for their reports!)
  3. Modesto Irrigation District is rolling out a Smart Meter project to more than 91,270 residential and about 12,700 commercial and industrial customers using Oracle’s Meter Data Management. Tom Kimball, MID’s Assistant General Manager for Transmission and Distribution, said

    Smart meters make good economic sense for consumers and utilities alike in this time of rising electric rates. Moreover, the California Energy Commission may soon require this type of electric meter, and the Legislature is moving in the same direction

  4. And news just in today that Italy’s Acea Distribuzione selected Oracle Utilities Meter Data Management to support its Automatic Meter Management (AMM) project, covering approximately 1.6 million meters – making it one of the largest AMM deployments in Europe to date.

    The Oracle solution will help us to provide our customers with advanced options including consumption profiles as well as consumption information online – ultimately allowing the consumer to make more informed decisions about their energy use

    said Delio Svaluto Moreolo, Metering Department, Acea Distribuzione S.p.A.

We have been writing a lot on this blog about the advantages of Smart Grids, and president Obama has recently called for the rollout of 40m smart meters in the US so it is great to see the big software vendors pushing out the necessary apps to help utilities make smart grids a reality.


Oracle Utilities, Smart Grids and vehicle to grid

I was talking to Guerry Waters, the VP Industry Strategy in the Oracle Utilities Global Business Unit the other day.

Guerry was telling me about Oracle Utilities’ background and how they came about as the result of Oracle’s acquisition of SPL back in Nov 2006 and Lodestar in 2007.

We got onto the subject of Demand Response (surprise, surprise!) and I raised my concerns about utilities being too command and control. When I said that for DR to really take off consumers need to be in control of their devices Guerry said:

The idea of automatic control of your Demand Response in the home is very intriguing but very much on the edge now, so what we are doing is we are working with a number of companies, like Tendril, that provides Home Area Networks (HANs) and control of devices in the home, where there can be parameters set from signals that are being passed to the HAN about price…. and bring that down to the HAN and let the HAN respond according to parameters that have been set by the consumer themselves…. and give the consumer opt-out capabilities from that.

Guerry went on to describe scenarios where your Home Area Network can contact you via SMS, for instance if you are away from home to alert you that your HAN is about to respond to a DR signal and do you want to overide or not!

Guerry did say that there are very few utilities thinking this far out but the fact that there are any is hugely heartening!

Our conversation went on to discussing vehicle to grid technologies and it was super to see that Oracle are thinking about the challenges to be overcome and ways to roll out the technologies required to make this a reality.

With both SAP and Oracle rolling out enabling technologies in this space, the Electricity 2.0 vision is quickly becoming a reality.