Boulder becomes first smart grid city

The $100 million smart grid has helped avoid four long-term outages since its launch this week.


Power utility Xcel Energy Inc. has finished building the infrastructure and launched the software needed to run its "smart grid city" project in Boulder, Colo., making it the world's "first fully functioning smart grid-enabled city," according to the Denver Business Journal .

Xcel said it avoided four long-term outages when the software spotted transformers that were about to fail. The utility scheduled repair work-a process that can take several hours-without any significant disruption to customer service.

The $100 million venture, funded by the utility and its partners, is testing new technologies that could be used to upgrade the nation's electric power grid. The equipment and software systems increase power reliability, provide customers with more information about their energy use, and allow customers and the utility to remotely control energy use in the home, Xcel said. A number of automated systems will switch power through substations, re-route power around bottlenecked lines, detect power outages, and identify outage risks.

The utility said early results of the smart-grid systems are helping the company predict what equipment will fail and fix it before it the power goes out.

In the fourth quarter, the project will be upgraded with an in-home energy management website, provided by GridPoint Inc. , that will give all Boulder customers with one of the nearly 16,000 new smart meters the ability to review energy use in the home. The website also will allow customers to design and personalize their energy use, Xcel said.

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