Cities can’t function without energy. It fuels our cars, subways and trains. It cools, heats and lights our homes and businesses. It pumps our water and processes the food we eat. And it powers the technologies that are the foundation of a smart city. To ensure a smart energy future, cities and utilities must work together – regardless of whether the utility is part of local government or a private investor-owned utility that supplies the city’s energy.
When energy demand is high and supply is short, San Francisco, California-based Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) offers financial incentives to companies that reduce their load in response to a request.
In 2011 the Electric Power Board (EPB) installed a smart grid in Chattanooga, Tennessee that has achieved a 55% reduction in outage time. The area’s businesses will save an estimated $40-$45 million a year, while the overall savings are likely to be $600 million over the first 10 years of deployment.
Microgrids have been called “the impatient upstarts of our energy future”. They are independent, small-scale electricity systems for communities, towns, campuses and even individuals, delivering integrated distributed renewable energy, improved grid reliability, personal energy use data and customised control.
9REN Group designs, develops, builds and operates renewable turnkey power plants using photovoltaics, solar thermal energy and wind. The Spanish company operates some 570 photovoltaic installations, mainly in Spain and Italy. In addition to photovoltaic plants, the company has built 183 solar thermal plants as well as mini-wind installations. 9REN plants generate more than 10,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of clean energy each month.
Siemens teamed with Duke Energy to demonstrate the results of an 18-month effort to reduce the cost and expand electric vehicle charging technologies. Council member Siemens provided the first Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approved residential electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) to demonstrate the ability to monitor status, report energy use and be controlled locally from the local area network and from the cloud.
Pepco Holdings needed to enhance its electrical system in the Washington, D.C. area. The regulated electric utility turned to Council member Black & Veatch for improvement to a substation and underground transmission system. The goal of the improvement work was to promote energy assurance for the area. It also stimulated the economy in an area that included new federal government facilities and new high-density housing projects.
In 2013, GE and Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) celebrated completion of Energy Smart Florida (ESF), an initiative implemented to modernize the electric grid and build out a more reliable and efficient electrical infrastructure. As part of the effort, FPL installed 4.5 million GE smart meters across its 35-county service territory, empowering FPL’s customers to take control of their energy use.
Eight Spanish cities reduced their electricity consumption by 64% and saved over 4,300 tonnes of C02 in 2014, thanks to efficient street lighting systems and technologies that both cut costs and benefit the environment.
As the first American utility to receive smart grid stimulus funding and as the first to be “completely operational with smart grid technology,” Glendale Water and Power (GWP), located in Southern California, is a bit of a smart grid poster child.