Every second of every day, thousands of interdependent events occur between generators, transmission lines, circuit breakers, power substations and transformers scattered across thousands of miles. Increasingly, power companies and systems operators are responding to these time-keeping requirements by installing time and frequency systems throughout their infrastructure. The modernization of the electric power grid, often called “smart grid” by its proponents, is an important goal. The operational and commercial demands of electric utilities require a high-performance data communication network that supports both existing functionalities and future operational requirements. Therefore, the design of the network architecture is crucial to the performance of the system.

Efforts such as the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Automated Meter Reading (AMR) and the other phases of intelligent grid management are all part of the smart grid. Having better control of the power grid will improve its reliability and efficiency and, as applications are developed for end users, point-of-use monitoring and control of power usage will benefit utilities by reducing peak loads and benefit consumers by providing a way to save on their energy costs by reducing their peak usage.

Power Utility Communications provides state-of-the-art information dealing with data transmission media, electrical grid, and power grid modernization with real world examples. It addresses the specification of communication services in connection with operational applications for electrical power utilities. To treat the subject of the different types of communications systems in detail is beyond the scope of this book. However, there are unique physical aspects to the various technologies which form the basis of communication systems. The physical communication medium, the carrier frequency used and the propagation characteristics of the communication medium show important differences that will decide what the fundamental limitations of a system will be for certain utility applications. These issues will be explored and explained in great detail.