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By: 
Susan Chan Shifflett

As smartphones have revolutionized the way people interact around the globe, “smart grid” technologies are revolutionizing the way people consume electricity.  Through the development of innovative smart grid solutions, U.S. companies are making this revolution possible in ways big and small.

In its most basic form, smart grid solutions use two-way information communication technologies (ICT) to ensure the energy producer can deliver energy to the consumer when needed while allowing consumers to demand energy when prices are lowest.  In short, smart grid technologies are helping utilities match energy demand with energy supply and giving utilities the ability to better understand their networks. Some of the U.S. leaders in this field include household names like OSIsoft, General Electric and IBM. As with much of technology innovation, it is also important to watch small businesses to understand the true potential in the smart grid field.

USTDA is doing just that.  Through reverse trade missions, which bring foreign decision-makers to the United States to meet with U.S. manufacturing and services providers the Agency is connecting companies like these with foreign buyers of smart grid technologies.

“To date, our activities in the smart grid sector have helped to generate over $900 million in U.S. exports, which means that our work is helping to create U.S. jobs,” said Kendra Kintzi, USTDA’s Electricity Transmission and Distribution Team Leader.

Kintzi noted that USTDA funded two smart grid RTMs for delegations of buyers from Brazil and Vietnam, which alone generated over $130 million in U.S. exports of metering infrastructure and capacitors, advanced software, and distribution automation equipment.

Recently, USTDA hosted a group of senior regulatory and utilities officials from around the world. During the visit, the delegates met with U.S. industry offering made-in-the-USA smart grid solutions. The itinerary included a business roundtable at DistribuTECH, the largest annual transmission and distribution conference in North America, where delegates presented their business goals to U.S. industry.

The delegation had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with several U.S. small and medium companies that are looking to export their products and services overseas, including Wake Aviation, CelPlan Technologies and Integral Analytics. Wake Aviation, a Denver-based helicopter services company, provides live power line maintenance in areas where transmission lines are difficult to reach.

According to Jake Harmon, Co-Founder and CEO of Wake Aviation, participating in the RTM allowed his company to “make contacts that would have otherwise been very hard to reach if we were to go at it on our own. We are so pleased this resource is out there to help businesses trying to reach international markets.”

Eric Woychik, Co-Founder of Strategy Integration, LLC, believes the future is bright for U.S. industry in the smart grid sector. He anticipates U.S. companies will continue to be the most competitive in the development and deployment of advanced demand response systems, battery storage systems, advanced energy efficiency solutions, advanced metering infrastructure, as well as equipment and software that enhances the customer experience.

Moving forward, USTDA will continue working to connect these innovative U.S. solutions with smart grid project developers overseas. The sector is growing and U.S. solutions will continue to play an important role in the development of better integrated power systems in markets around the world.

To learn more about USTDA, check out www.ustda.gov.