Reduces and Automatically Detects Power Outages in Boulder - Customers Will Soon Be Able to See Their Energy Usage OnlineXcel Energy's SmartGridCity™ project in Boulder, Colo., has completed construction of the infrastructure and launched the remaining software to enable all SmartGridCity operational functions. This step makes it the first fully functioning smart grid enabled city in the world that increases reliability, provides customers with greater energy use information, and allows participating customers and Xcel Energy to control in-home energy management devices remotely when demand calls for it.
"As measurable results continue to be achieved in the coming months, we look forward to continued improvements in operating efficiencies, as well as new and improved services for the citizens of Boulder, Colorado," said Tim Taylor, president and CEO, Public Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company. "We have learned a tremendous amount from our installation of SmartGridCity and anticipate additional benefits for us and all of our customers."
This launch ties together all the automated functions of SmartGridCity including: switching power through fully automated substations; re-routing power around bottlenecked lines; detecting power outages and proactively identifying outage risks. The deployment integrated more than 20 applications, 95 new interfaces and more than 300 test cases.
The latest software is proving some smart grid theories about reducing power outages on the company's distribution system and adding real-time monitoring capabilities of the electric grid status. Early results indicate that smart grid technology is allowing the company to predict equipment failure and proactively make necessary repairs before an outage occurs.
The SmartGridCity project also included automating three of four distribution substations, four computer-monitored power feeders, and another 23 feeders that are watched for voltage irregularities. Approximately 200 miles of fiber optic cable, 4,600 residential and small business transformers and nearly 16,000 smart meters are now connected to the smart grid system.
The SmartGridCity construction phase on the network "backbone" was recently completed. The collaborative effort involved the resources and expertise of the Xcel Energy's Smart Grid Consortium, including Accenture, CURRENT Group, GridPoint, OSIsoft, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, SmartSynch and Ventyx®.
A grid-state monitoring system, installed by CURRENT Group, is one of the technologies being used to develop information to proactively reduce outages. By analyzing real-time data retrieved from the sensors deployed on the distribution grid, this system significantly minimizes low-voltage issues as well by automatically detecting them and allowing Xcel Energy to proactively address potential problems.
"We can now read customer meters remotely, identify and reduce outages and false power outage calls more quickly," said Jay Herrmann, Xcel Energy regional vice president. "By cutting the number of times we send crews out to those calls, we can make our crews more productive. Combining those efficiencies while reducing outages will allow us to capture cost-savings more appropriately and benefit our customers."
Since the CURRENT Look® installation was completed earlier this year, the company has averted four potentially long-term outages by being forewarned about transformers that were ready to fail. Company dispatchers were able to schedule equipment and crews to replace the transformers – a process that can take several hours – without any significant disruption to customer service. Previously, customers might have been forced to wait, without power, for hours for repairs to take place.
The new platform will have direct customer interface opportunities. In the 4th quarter of 2009, Xcel Energy plans to launch an in-home energy management Web portal provided by GridPoint that will give all Boulder customers with a smart meter the ability to review their in-home energy usage. This service will enable customers to design and personalize energy consumption strategies.
"SmartGridCity is a long-term test, but these first steps are exciting," continued Herrmann. "We look forward to gaining more insight from what we have already installed and the new technologies that we will be testing in the future."
Xcel Energy will soon be seeking customers for testing of in-home energy management devices. The devices will be used to validate and enhance the customer energy management experience and response aspects of the SmartGridCity pilot project.