The Silicon Review
Today’s utility industry is facing a host of challenges as it continues to grapple with the uncertainty of future needs, constantly changing power flows, increasing demands of customers, and unprecedented rate pressure from regulators. This combination of factors has drastically complicated the process of making long-term investments in grid infrastructure. Traditional methods of preventing grid overloads and increasing transfer capacity are expensive and unwieldy, and they often require several years to deploy. In recent years, these shortcomings have only become more apparent. Smart Wires was established to help utilities resolve grid challenges, optimize existing networks and achieve renewable goals.
Realizing the company’s game-changing potential
The Smart Wires management team, then at Chevron Energy Solutions, found the Smart Wires technology and was instantly drawn towards the game-changing potential of modular power flow control technology to help utilities resolve grid challenges in a time of increasing unpredictability and uncertainty.
Smart Wires technology was developed to stand as the industry leader in designing and manufacturing advanced power flow control technology for electric transmission systems. Driven by a world-class leadership team with extensive experience in delivering innovative solutions, Smart Wires works with utilities globally to address the unique challenges of the rapidly evolving electric system. Its core technologies increase or decrease line reactance to push or pull current away from overloaded lines and onto underutilized corridors within the existing transmission network. The modularity of Smart Wires technologies provides a unique ability to flexibly scale solutions over time to perfectly pair investment with grid needs.
Smart Wires has a suite of highly accomplished R&D personnel which includes a staff of internal engineers, full-time and part-time consultants, four IEEE Fellows, and a total of more than 20 PhDs. This talent covers 23 major disciplines ranging from materials sciences, power semiconductors, power electronics, high-reliability embedded systems, thermals-and-packaging engineering, structural and civil engineering, cybersecurity, Internet of Things, distributed and centralized control systems, power systems and energy management systems.
Today, the technology is rapidly becoming part of the utility tool kit as more and more electric utilities explore new ways to mitigate future uncertainties surrounding load and generation, alleviate congestion, improve network utilization and maintain reliable electric service.
Smart Wires solutions
The first product launched by Smart Wires was the PowerLine Guardian®. The PowerLine Guardian technology was developed by utilities for utilities, led by a consortium of large U.S. utilities at the National Electric Energy Testing Research and Applications Center (NEETRAC). This core group of utilities, which includes Southern Company and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), defined the vision for the original modular power flow control systems.
PowerLine Guardians are installed along a transmission line by clamping directly on the conductor. The devices push power to alternate paths within a network by dynamically adding reactance to the line. This allows for greater utilization of existing infrastructure, increasing the overall efficiency of the network.
A fleet of PowerLine Guardians can be rapidly deployed within a network and easily relocated as flows change over time. The next generation Guardian technology, the Power Guardian™, is simply a larger, more powerful version of the PowerLine Guardian. These devices are deployed on dedicated structures–Smart Banks™ or Smart Towers™ - designed and patented by Smart Wires. Similar to the PowerLine Guardian, Power Guardian deployments can be easily scaled or relocated within a network over time to meet changing grid needs.
The Power Router™ leverages proven Guardian technology, along with highly advanced power electronics, to provide another layer of functionality to the Smart Wires suite of solutions. The Power Router synthesizes a variable capacitive or inductive reactance, allowing the devices to effectively push or pull power within a network. Like the Power Guardian technology, the Power Router is a tower-mounted device that can be deployed on dedicated structures both in a substation or transmission line right-of-way.
The road ahead
Smart Wires has come a long way by providing a uniquely flexible solution to grid challenges. Similarly in coming years, its products and operations teams will continue to deliver innovative technologies for the utility toolkit, helping the company expand its offering to partners around the globe. “We will work in close concert with the leading global utilities to help our customers achieve their most important strategic objectives.” sums up Gregg Rotenberg, CEO of Smart Wires.
A proven and committed President & CEO
As President and CEO of Smart Wires, Gregg Rotenberg leads the development of the company’s products and solutions and is responsible for commercializing the technology both domestically and internationally. Gregg has assembled a uniquely talented team to bring Smart Wires’ solutions to leading utilities and transmission owners all over the globe.
Gregg holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics with a concentration in finance and accounting from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated magna cum laude, and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where he graduated first in his class.
"Virtually every utility CEO agrees that we have moved from a world that was highly predictable to a world that is almost entirely unpredictable, and today’s grids simply weren’t designed to accommodate frequent and unpredictable changes in flows. Smart Wires changes the game because we allow utilities to quickly and inexpensively unlock the massive transfer capacity that can be captured in the grid that they already built.”