Competition to supply gear to modernize the power grid is heating up as utilities Duke Energy and ComEd named their expected smart grid suppliers on Tuesday.
Duke said that it has chosen Cisco to supply an array of equipment for a planned smart grid program estimated at $1 billion over the next few years. Cisco, which unveiled its smart-grid initiative last month, is expected to supply in-home energy monitors as well as networking hardware for Duke's substations, the utility said.
North Carolina-based Duke aims to provide a digital upgrade to its 11 million customers in the five states it operates.
"Replacing our analog electric grid with advanced digital technology to create a 21st century electricity delivery system largely involves data, networks, and communications--all of it Cisco's expertise," Todd Arnold, senior vice president for smart grid and customer systems at Duke Energy, said in a statement.
Chicago-based ComEd on Tuesday announced its recommended providers, including General Electric for smart meters and Silver Spring Networks, which provides wireless communications and software.
If approved, the smart grid program would bring real-time information on electricity usage and rates to consumers by installing 141,000 two-way meters in 11 Chicago suburbs.
Several utilities are investing in smart-grid technology, such as in-home energy monitors and smart meters. By presenting consumers with up-to-the-minute information on usage and changing rates, utilities hope to cut their peak-time electricity usage and avoid outages.
There are dozens of providers angling for business from utilities in these smart-grid programs.
Seven-year-old Silver Spring Networks has emerged as one of the most successful providers, having secured deals with a handful of utilities, including Florida Power & Light.
Cisco, meanwhile, is making a concerted push around energy efficiency and grid modernization, developing a full line of communications products for utilities, consumers, and building managers.