The fu­ture

Jamaica Gleaner - - SOCIAL - Evan Dug­gan, PhD, is vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor, Univer­sity of Alabama at Birmingham and for­mer pro­fes­sor of MIS and dean, Fac­ulty of So­cial Sciences, UWI Mona; and Din Dug­gan, Esq, is man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of a global le­gal ser­vices firm, pub­lisher of Who’s Who in

com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­trol tech­nolo­gies must be placed on the grid. These con­trols are col­lec­tively re­ferred to as smart grid. While re­new­able sources tend to drive power gen­er­a­tion costs down, they sim­i­larly in­crease net­work costs. Im­ple­men­ta­tion ex­penses not­with­stand­ing, smart grid and re­new­able de­ploy­ment holds tremen­dous po­ten­tial to im­prove en­ergy re­li­a­bil­ity, ef­fi­ciency and sus­tain­abil­ity in a way that should re­sult in sub­stan­tial re­duc­tion in Caribbean elec­tric­ity prices. Mo­tors and oth­ers, as well as en­deav­ours such as AT&T Labs’ multi-gi­ga­bit project aimed at lever­ag­ing elec­tri­cal power lines to de­liver In­ter­net ser­vice. These de­vel­op­ments prom­ise to blur the line be­tween auto in­dus­try and elec­tric util­ity as well as spark un­prece­dented con­ver­gence among the tele­com and elec­tric­ity in­dus­tries.

Grid volatil­ity, plan­ning un­cer­tain­ties, in­dus­try com­plex­ity and reg­u­la­tory am­bi­gu­i­ties sparked at least in part by the afore­men­tioned tech­nolo­gies have dis­rupted de­mand for elec­tric­ity across the globe. Some util­i­ties have em­braced and re­sponded ad­mirably to in­no­va­tion’s call. They are pre­par­ing to power elec­tric cars and bid­ding on re­new­able en­ergy projects far away from their home shores. Oth­ers – par­tic­u­larly right here in the Caribbean – have be­come in­tro­verted, dou­bling down on their an­cient, Flin­sto­nian philoso­phies – em­bed­ding rev­enue guar­an­tees, es­tab­lish­ing profit bands and re­treat­ing from a full com­mit­ment to sys­tem lossre­duc­tion. But whether these util­i­ties em­brace change or re­main re­cal­ci­trant, the mar­ket is evolv­ing and a new ori­en­ta­tion based on alert­ness and agility will ul­ti­mately pre­vail. Ad­mit­tedly, with such rapid change comes tremen­dous un­cer­tainty for reg­u­la­tors and pol­i­cy­mak­ers alike. Com­plex­i­ties not­with­stand­ing, let it not be said, to­mor­row, that the Caribbean elec­tric­ity in­dus­try failed to seize the mo­ment and were left fear­fully clutch­ing the past. It is now clear that a bold new fu­ture has al­ready ar­rived.

II

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