GMP, CVPS and VTel reach smart grid-broadband operating agreement

first_imgSeveral key players in Vermont’s electric and telecommunications industries appeared with Governor Peter Shumlin today to announce the finalization of a collaborative agreement to give Vermont more control over energy consumption, expand access to broadband and telecommunications services, and boost job creation and economic development. The agreement between Green Mountain Power, Central Vermont Public Service Corp., and Vermont Telephone Company (VTel) is critical to Shumlin’s call to reduce our dependence on oil and fossil fuels and simultaneously provide high-speed internet access statewide by the end of 2013. ‘What we are celebrating today is the operating agreement that supports the ‘marriage’ of smart grid and our telecommunications infrastructure. Smart grid is a national and Vermont priority,’ Gov. Shumlin said. Green Mountain Power, CVPS and their 17 partners will install about 250,000 advanced meters over the next two years and those smart meters will transmit their information to and from homes via the wireless open world broadband network that is being built by VTel.  This project will provide the critical backbone to transmit information. ‘Early on, I spoke of a ‘wireless canopy’ across Vermont,’ the Governor said. ‘This is but one application that will rely on that canopy.’ Under the agreement, the parties have essentially agreed to share use of VTel-owned and operated technology to expand the smart grid efforts designed to provide energy information to companies and homeowners, as well as deliver high-speed broadband service across the state. The Vtel Wireless Open World (WOW) project, funded by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, is currently in permitting phase with completion targeted for early 2013, in sync with the activation of the smart grid.    ‘Today’s agreement is a major milestone in our efforts through 2013, and a groundbreaking move for smart grid installations across the nation.  GMP and CVPS are the first two utilities in the country to rely on a commercial, 4G LTE communications network. The operating agreement will provide the security and data prioritization attributes necessary to operate SG across a public network. This development is directly aligned with the goals of the FCC’s national Broadband Plan as it looks to integrate commercial broadband communications networks into smart grid applications,’ said Karen Marshall, chief of Connect VT. ‘The partnership between VTel, GMP and CVPS is an important step in fulfilling Vermont’s dual objective of universal broadband coverage and smart grid communications,’ said Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power. ‘The collaboration among our companies will create a platform for energy innovation and economic development of Vermont going forward.”‘The real promise of smart grid for Vermonters is to reduce peak demand on our electrical distribution system by giving consumers the information they need to change electric use patterns; integrating clean renewable power generation, and eventually supporting the adoption of electric vehicles. Realizing that promise requires two way communications and this agreement supports that,’ said Gov. Shumlin.  ‘VTel’s service will reach many un-served and under-served areas of Vermont, which is critical for connecting our state to the modern economy,’ said Michel Guite, owner of VTel. ‘Plus, this connectivity will enable a more robust smart grid, enabling even larger impacts on energy efficiency.’And by combining GMP and CVPS’s smart grid funding with VTel’s Rural Broadband funding, the LTE broadband network being developed by VTel will cover more of Vermont’s geography. ‘The original VTel network was designed to support unserved and underserved Vermonters with best-in-class broadband access, and this agreement will help extend that network to more people faster,’ said Joan Gamble, vice president for strategic change and business services at Central Vermont Public Service.  ‘This unique partnership between telecommunications and electric utilities will benefit all of our customers, and is a model for business collaboration that reinforces the fact that Vermont is open for business.’last_img read more

Read More

Expert discusses black market in Tunisia

first_imgOff the books · Laurence Michalak, an expert on North Africa, spoke about Tunisia’s black market in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center Tuesday. – Kenneth Rodriguez-Clisham | Daily TrojanThe Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences hosted renowned cultural anthropologist and Middle East-North Africa expert Laurence Michalak Tuesday afternoon for a presentation on the role of the black market in Tunisian society.The talk, “Merchants at the Margins: The Politics of Informal Commerce in Tunisia,” was presented by the Middle East Studies Program.Michalak, who served as the vice chair at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley for 23 years, explained that a black market or “informal economy” is one where people don’t pay taxes and don’t declare their income — or, in other words, are not “on the books.” In defining the informal economy, however, Michalak stressed that though it is essentially an illegal practice, there are degrees of illegality.“There are really bad parts of the informal economy, like smuggling drugs and arms,” Michalak said. “But on the other hand, there are things that are illegal but tolerated, such as vendors selling gasoline on the side of the road.”Michalak’s research has focused on the way that the informal economy affects Tunisian society, and how this has changed since the Arab Spring. According to the World Bank, 53 percent of Tunisia’s employment and 38.4 percent of its GNP are in the informal sector, numbers that only increased after the 2011 Tunisian revolution.“After the revolution, more people went to the informal sector because they needed a job and couldn’t feed their families,” Michalak said. “So they made themselves a job.”Michalek said much of the motivation for entering the informal sector also arises out of a refusal to pay taxes that people believe will only go to support a corrupt government. According to Michalak, the informal economy is also tied to politics in Tunisia.“Mohamed Bouazizi was selling fruits and vegetables illegally on the street, and the police confiscated his goods,” Michalak said. “So he set himself on fire, and that was the start of the Arab Spring — it all started in informal commerce.”According to Michalak, people working in the informal sector have found creative and often surprising ways to make a living. Michalak described Tunisian women who would fly to Turkey and purchase clothing in bulk, then return to Tunisia to sell it “out of their living rooms.” He showed pictures of walls painted brightly with cartoon characters and explained that these were informal kindergartens, which are widespread throughout Tunisia, are not taxed, and are not sanctioned by the government.“It’s a lot like the United States,” Michalak said. “Every country has a sector of its economy that’s informal.”Michalak’s interest in studying informal economies arose out of his personal experience in Tunisia, and his desire to understand what drove so many people to pursue illegal channels of work and business.“When I lived in Tunisia, I was right next to the street with the most vendors,” Michalak said. “I used to walk past these people every day. I used to stop and chat with them, and sometimes I would buy things from them. So it was a natural extension to study them.”After Michalak’s presentation, Rym Kaki of the Sol Price School of Public Policy provided commentary on the future of the informal economy and the practical applications of Michalak’s research. Kaki acknowledged that an informal economy presents many problems, including exploitation of labor and a lack of safety regulations. However, she also stressed that though many current policies are aimed at developing ways to move people out of informal commerce, the “formal” economy brings its own share of problems, such as when governments fail to provide their people with services and protections. According to Kaki, more research needs to be done to develop solutions to poverty in Tunisia and the Middle East as a whole.“Research provides us with the raw data, but we need to move beyond data and start an agenda for action,” Kaki said. “One person alone can’t make those changes — we want to work together on practical solutions.”last_img read more

Read More