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Getting Some Perspective on Smart Grid

Smart Grid. If you work in the energy industry, it’s everywhere you turn. Conferences, webinars, articles, press releases, advertisements. Messages on renewable integration, electric vehicle charging, privacy, security, consumer backlash, mergers and new acquisitions. Which aspect matters the most?

Guest columnist: Anto Budiardjo, President and CEO, Clasma Events

ConnectivityWeek 2011
Santa Clara, CA
May 23-26, 2011

Unless you have a Google alert ping you at every Smart Grid mention, a #SmartGrid Twitter feed streaming live on your desktop, and four hours a day to spend reading up on the latest trends, it’s hard to stay on top of what’s new and decipher what’s relevant. It’s also very easy to lose site of what’s really important -- the customer.

“Voice of the customer.” It’s a common marketing principle in most industries. But, for most of the history of our electric grid, it’s been an underused concept. There’s been little need to engage users because our industry has operated in a top-down manner -- a single service offered to customers who are thrilled when they flip the switch and the lights turn on.

Smart Grid changes everything. Top-down will become horizontal, diagonal, and circular as our energy goals are met with new technologies and opportunities -- demand response, distributed generation, electric vehicles, smart energy applications for the iPhone, and more. What’s the new (necessary) variable? Engaged consumers.

Residential, commercial, and industrial energy users will all have a very important role to play in our cleaner, smarter, more efficient energy paradigm. Governments and utilities will rely on consumer adoption of demand response, renewable energy, and electric vehicles to meet environmental goals and mandates and to overcome our pressing energy challenges.

So, as an industry, I’d argue that it’s the customer perspective that matters most. This is how I have come to filter my Smart Grid messages -- getting to the heart of what’s relevant by focusing on the needs of energy customers, which will (should) ultimately drive utility decisions, technology innovations, investment choices, and policy.

It is with this mindset that Clasma Events has collaborated with Smart Grid stakeholders across the U.S. -- and the world -- to develop ConnectivityWeek, an event that brings together all major consumption verticals with utilities, policymakers, technology companies, innovators, and investors to truly understand how we can enable meaningful Smart Grid benefits, beyond the grid.

Guest columnist Anto Budiardjo has more than three decades experience within the energy, connectivity and IT disciplines. As a founder of Clasma Events Inc. he is responsible for organizing conferences and events for the emerging intersection of energy and IT, including GridWeek and ConnectivityWeek. He is a frequent speaker at industry events and is a contributing editor of AutomatedBuildings.com. He received the Frost & Sullivan 2005 Building Technologies CEO of the Year award.