(December 2011) Lafayette Utilities System selects Elster’s EnergyAxis as its AMI system; ABB wins contract from Hydro-Quebec; Sapphire Power Holdings acquires gas-fired power generation from Morris Energy Group; Consumers Energy awards contract to Babcock & Wilcox; plus announcements and contracts involving BP Wind Energy, Abengoa Solar, Samsung C&T and others.
A deliberate approach to infrastructure advancement.
The electric power system has been getting smarter for decades, as new technologies allow better analysis and greater control. But most utilities have implemented these technologies in a piecemeal way, rather than as part of a long-term, enterprise-scale strategy. What are the consequences of this fragmented and incidental approach, and what would happen if we developed the smart grid in a deliberate way instead?
A strategic approach to mitigating rate increases and greenhouse gas price risk.
Experience in the Duke Energy Carolinas service territory shows that high penetration rates for electric vehicles, combined with increased natural gas-fired power generation, can result in lower costs to customers and lower risks for utility shareholders—while also reducing total emissions of greenhouse gases. However, these outcomes depend on policy changes that facilitate smart, off-peak vehicle charging, and that allow utilities to capture the benefits of a more environmentally friendly power system.
(November 2011) Hitachi Power Systems America wins contract from Westar Energy; City of Fort Collins selects Elster, Siemens Energy, eMeter and Tropos GridCom to provide systems for its AMI project; Energate to supply smart thermostats for Oklahoma Gas & Electric; Jackson Municipal Electric Department selects Survalent Technology for a new SCADA system; Eastern Nebraska Public Power District Consortium selects ABB to implement an advanced smart grid-based SCADA; plus announcements and contracts involving EnerSys, S&C Electric, Siemens and others.
(October 2011) Wind Capital group selects RMT Inc. to design and construct wind energy facility; MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc. and SunEdison acquire Fotowatio Renewable Ventures; Solar Community and Reliant Energy team up to offer financing options; KEMA selects Green Energy Corp.’s software; Leviton unveils commercial electric vehicle charging stations; plus announcements and contracts involving Science Applications International Corp., Tantalus, FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. and others.
Can time-of-use rates drive the behavior of electric vehicle owners?
Time-of-use (TOU) pricing might seem like the ultimate solution to ensure electric vehicle charging loads won’t overburden the grid. But will TOU rates guide drivers’ behavior when it’s time to top up their batteries? Early indicators suggest the answer varies among vehicle owners and pricing plans.
Connecting vehicles to smart systems.
Electric vehicles (EV) are just getting started, with rapid growth ahead. Plug-in hybrids and other EVs could capture 20 percent of the U.S. auto market by 2030. When planning for future infrastructure and technology needs, utilities face difficult questions about how EVs will interact with the utility grid. A comprehensive approach to communicating and integrating vehicle information will allow utilities and drivers to make the most of smart electric transportation.
(September 2011) Walgreens to install eVgo charging stations at 800 sites; Siemens and eMeter team up in Maryland; Glasgow muni installs Elster meters; ABB completes Mincom acquisition; JDSU acquires Quanta-Sol PV technology; Survalent installs SCADA system at tidal power project; PECO selects Telvent; plus announcements and contracts involving Trilliant, Sensus, S&C Electric, Navigant, Ernst & Young, PSE&G, Portland General Electric and others.
A century or so ago, Thomas Edison’s commercialization of electricity unleashed an unprecedented cascade of change, altering the way humanity worked, lived and interacted. Today, with the convergent rise of the smart grid, renewable energy and electric vehicles (EVs), the power sector is embarking on a second era of transformation that promises to deliver a smarter, greener and more efficient 21st century.
Shaping system transformation.
New technologies—and new expectations—require taking a fresh look at the institutions and practices that have provided reliable electricity for the past century. Collective action is needed to define the key attributes of a future grid and then to take the more difficult next step—adapting our processes and institutions to align with that future vision. A thoughtful approach will allow America to capture the potential value that’s offered by sweeping changes in technologies and policies.