lunes, agosto 30, 2010

Should the Smart Grid be a Technological Project to Address a Challenge Faced by Utility Executives?

Following the advice of the great designer Don Norman, the answer is NO, as the most difficult social, organizational, and cultural aspects, were not considered in its explicit architecture act. An emerging revolution can be organized to shifting the whole power industry with the Electricity Without Price Controls Architecture Framework, in which those difficult living system aspects have been explicitly considered.

Should the Smart Grid be a Technological Project to Address a Challenge Faced by Utility Executives?

By José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio, Ph.D.

Creator of the EWPC-AF
Systemic Consultant: Electricity

First posted in the GMH Blog, on August 30th 2010.

Copyright © 2010 José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, without written permission from José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio. This article is an unedited, an uncorrected, draft material of The EWPC Textbook. Please write to to contact the author for any kind of engagement.

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"... technology is the easy part to change. The difficult aspects are social, organizational, and cultural." Donald Norman, "The Invisible Computer," Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT Press 1988. That old quote by Don applies right on the Smart Grid growing difficulties, as a result of “The Integrated Energy and Communication Systems Architecture (IECSA)” design work.

Under the title “THE NEED FOR AN INDUSTRY ARCHITECTURE,” on page 2-1 of the final release of IECSA Volume I, it is written that “There is a two-part answer to the question, “Why it is necessary to develop an industry architecture?’ First, it must be understood that the challenge facing utility executives is keeping the lights on while also enhancing the value of services to consumer… The second, and more powerful argument, is that the only way to address the challenge utility executives face is to go back to basics, understand why the current system doesn’t perform as needed, and then to design interoperability into the system from the ground up.”

While having a consumer portal for “…enhancing the value of services to consumer…,” It is easy to see that the industry architecture “… must be understood that the challenge facing utility executives…” and “… that the only way to address the challenge utility executives face…” is technological. It is important to know that the consumer portal was just a part (see page 5-3) that could “be directly fed into the project.” In sum, the smart grid is a technological project to address the challenge utility executives’ face. To make things a lot worst, according to Table 7 (page 7-6), the living system aspects of the “Industry Organizational Change,” is one the “Areas beyond the scope of IECSA.” No wonder the smart grid is facing growing opposition.

To be successful, the emerging electricity revolution requires a deep and fresh understanding of how parts and wholes are interrelated in the living system of the power industry. As explained in the book "Presence: human purpose and the field of the future," written by Peter Senge, C. Otto Sharmer, Joseph Jaworski and Betty Sue Flowers, “Unlike machines, living systems, such as your body or a tree, create themselves. They are not mere assemblages of their parts but are continually growing and changing along with their elements.”

As a result of the discussion about the meaning highly important concept “shifting the whole,” the book authors discovered the new systems axiom “What is most systemic is most local.” After that discovery, they wrote that "The deepest systems we enact are woven into the fabric of everyday life, down to the most minute detail... This is so important for us to understand. We, every one of us, may be able to change the world, but only as we experience more and more of the whole in the present..."

When people quote that "The late Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill once posited that 'all politics is local,'" they are giving an instance of that axiom. I have long posited that the global power industry is undergoing a great systemic crisis, as I have been living in, the Dominican Republic, one of the places where this crisis has been and still is greatest. The smart grid based on the EWPC-AF is trying to emerged, but the political lobby does not allow the creative destruction to operate.

The minimalist architecture, holistic and emergent EWPC-AF is the result of seeing the emerging whole of the power industry. It has a unifying global vision based on an explicit architecture act that integrates cross-cutting issues for global energy policy, while letting efficient and effective local acts grow and change.

Having to pay one half of every dollar per kWh on top of the electricity bill, the US is also a clear representative of the global great systemic crisis. When Phil Carson writes "today's utilities often carry a legacy of mistrust derived from being the only game in town accustomed to dictating interactions with 'ratepayers'... ," in his article Smart Grid Is Local, Too, Phil has placed that mistrust at the center of the systemic crisis and the great local instance of the axiom.

Most local solutions can be found in the global scope EWPC post The New California Capitalist Model to Initiate the Transformation of the Global Power Industry, which responds to challenge set 2 weeks ago by Kate Rowland. Most other local solution can also be found in the global scope EWPC post 2 Smart Grid Lessons Learned: Increasing Stimulus Grant was Mistaken. Utilities Must be restructured, that gives Boulder, Colorado, one of the greatest opportunities to start the mentioned transformation.