SmartGridCity is the high-tech evolution of our current electric grid which has changed little, in terms of technology, in the past 100 years. By combining state-of-the-art smart grid technology, SmartGridCity provides utilities and consumers real-time information about energy consumption resulting in numerous benefits for both.
This “smart” information is used by the utility to provide more reliable and stable power, avoid blackouts and conserve energy. This information is so smart that it has already identified SmartGridCity transformers in need of replacement BEFORE they malfunctioned. In the past, transformers were only replaced after they blew and the power went out.
Ultimately, the consumer utilizes “smart” information to consume less electricity and save money by active participation in energy consumption. Smart appliances allow the consumer further control via ability to program smart appliances (washer, dryer, dishwasher, etc.) to operate during non-peak electric hours when rates are lowest.
Wireless devices and mobile applications, like Boulder-based Tendril Network’s Vantage Mobile, provide the ability for consumers to monitor and adjust electricity consumption from remote locations. Efficiency has never been this fun.
The $100 million SmartGridCity project created a wide range of jobs through infrastructure construction and the collaborative efforts of the following companies that comprise Xcel Energy’s Smart Grid Consortium: Accenture, CURRENT Group, GridPoint, OSIsoft, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, SmartSynch and Ventyx®.
Infrastructure construction alone included the installation of 15,800 smart meters, 200 miles of fiber optic cables, and 4,600 residential and business transformers.
Smart grid technologies enable utilities to combine and maximize energy generated from various renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydrothermal and geothermal.
Not only is smart grid technology exciting but the economic incentive is equally as attractive. Smart grid research estimates a savings potential of $48 billion for the 200 largest U.S. utilities.
SmartGridCity is also testing the ability to charge and store energy via Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV). PHEV’s conserve electricity by utilizing non-peak electricity to charge the vehicles’ battery. A PHEV can also provide energy storage and power for the grid during peak electricity demand. Boulder-based EEtrex completed the PHEV vehicle conversions and are conducting tests for PHEV interaction with the electric grid, homes, construction sites and emergency power.
In June, the Elephant Journal wrote a blog post, titled “Who’ll be the first Smart Grid City?“, about the quest to become the first smart grid city in the world and five U.S. cities leading the way. Boulder has answered that question with resounding intelligence (ie. “smarts”) and along the way earned the new moniker of “SmartGridCity U.S.A.”.
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Find out more about Xcel Energy’s SmartGridCity program: http://smartgridcity.xcelenergy.com/index.asp
EEtrex PHEV conversions: http://www.eetrex.com