Cisco outlines strategy for utility networks

IP network will extend from the power generation facilities to the home

Cisco this week disclosed a plan to provide network infrastructure to utility companies and their customers to help manage power supplies and energy consumption.

Cisco is looking to supply utilities with an IP network that extends from power generation facilities to the home and will replace "fragmented" legacy infrastructures. Cisco's smart grid strategy will encompass data centers and substations, neighborhood-area networks, and businesses and homes.

Cisco expects the market for smart grid communications infrastructure to be $20 billion annually over five years.

Citing data from the Electrical Power Research Institute, Cisco says smart grids will reduce the impact of power outages, which cost U.S. industry $50 billion a year, and greenhouse gas emissions. Smart grids also have the potential to reduce household energy consumption by up to 15% and generate 280,000 jobs.  

Cisco will develop energy transmission and distribution automation systems using its switches and routers; provide IP-based backhaul communications for smart meters; and supply home and business energy-management capabilities from its EnergyWise power efficiency system for its switches. Cisco also will provide support services to smart grid customers.In addition, Cisco will partner with systems integrators, industry vendors and utility customers for smart grid projects. Cisco recently announced its involvement in Energy Smart Miami, a collaboration with General Electric, Florida Power & Light and Silver Spring Networks to build out a smart grid deployment for the City of Miami.

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