Electrical utilities can, in limited ways, deploy projects that implement smart grid applications right now. However, for smart grids to become a reality, Siemens (our what ever corporation involved) has to demonstrate that, in an enterprise class size implementation, that smart grids and all the benefits of large scales efficiencies that smart grids will bring can be realized.
How does a power utility implement a large scale smart grid initiaive on their existing power grid architecture without impacting and disrupting existing operations and systems?
The have a big player like Siemens come in with a hot shot third party software contractor to demonstrate their gear can integrate the utility's existing data as well as demonstrate interoperability with the new hardware/software being proposed by Siemens.
To be able to demonstrate system integration is going to be key for realizing the benefits of smart grid automation. The electrical utilities are looking hard at this now, because it is the future and the future is almost here.