Clean Edge: Xcel Energy announced recently it will put in motion its vision to make Boulder, Colo. the nation’s first fully integrated Smart Grid City.
The advanced, smart grid system – when fully implemented over the next few years – will provide customers with a portfolio of smart grid technologies designed to provide environmental, financial and operational benefits. Xcel Energy anticipates funding only a portion of the project, and plans to leverage other sources including government grants for the remainder of what could be up to a $100 million effort.
“Smart Grid City is the first step toward building the grid of the future,” said Dick Kelly, Xcel Energy chairman, president and CEO. “In Boulder, we’ll collaborate with others to integrate all aspects of our smart grid vision and evaluate the benefits. The work we’re doing will benefit not only Boulder, but also customers throughout our eight-state service territory. We’re pleased to partner with the city and our Boulder customers as we begin this journey.”
…In addition to its geographic concentration, ideal size and access to all grid components, Boulder was selected as the Smart Grid City because it is home to the University of Colorado and several federal institutions, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which already is involved in smart grid efforts for the federal government.
Smart Grid City could feature a number of infrastructure upgrades and customer offerings – for the first time fully integrated through the partnership’s efforts in Boulder – including:
- Transformation of existing metering infrastructure to a robust, dynamic electric system communications network, providing real-time, high-speed, two-way communication throughout the distribution grid;
- Conversion of substations to “smart” substations capable of remote monitoring, near real-time data and optimized performance;
- At the customer’s invitation, installation of programmable in- home control devices and the necessary systems to fully automate home energy use; and
- Integration of infrastructure to support easily dispatched distributed generation technologies (such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with vehicle-to-grid technology; battery systems; wind turbines; and solar panels).
The potential benefits of the Smart Grid City include operational savings, customer-choice energy management, better grid reliability, greater energy efficiency and conservation options, increased use of renewable energy sources, and support for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and intelligent-home appliances.