After nearly two years of planning, Boulder, Colo., can call itself the first fully functioning smart grid-enabled city in the world.
This week, Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy completed work on the system’s infrastructure and launched software to turn Boulder into what is believed to be the first city ready to plug into smart grid technology.
About 4,600 residential and small business transformers are tied to the SmartGridCity system via smart meters, which monitor energy use in near real time, according to Tom Henley, Xcel Energy senior media relations representative. In the next phase of the project, customers will receive in-home energy-monitoring devices to control and minimize energy consumption via the Internet.
In an early test of the devices, homeowners benefited from receiving feedback on their daily energy use, Henley says.
“It’s really because their awareness has grown and they understand that ‘I’m using this much energy and maybe I don’t need to use that much,’” he says. “Just based on the information they are making more informed decisions about their energy use.”
SmartGridCity offers the potential for adding cleaner and more sustainable power sources in the fuel mix while offering customers more energy-efficient and cost-saving options, according to Henley. A handful of municipalities are considering similar technology, but nothing on such a large scale, says Henley.
In addition, early results indicate that the smart grid technology will allow the company to predict equipment failure and proactively make necessary repairs before an outage occurs, according to Jay Herrmann, Xcel Energy regional vice president.
“We can now read customer meters remotely, identify and reduce outages and false power outage calls more quickly,” says Herrmann.
Jennifer Goodman is Senior Editor Online for EcoHome.