Saturday, March 28, 2009

Austin Energy named Top Tier Smart Grid Utility in the US

Thank you to Jesse Berst for publishing the article below and acknowledging that Texas is a top tier Smart Grid state in the US. Furthermore, I want to thank him for naming Austin Energy the top tear Smart Grid Public Power Utility in the nation and one of the six top tier Smart Grid Utilities in the US.

Austin Energy has been on the Smart Grid journey since 2003. We are currently managing 200,000 devices real-time (smart meters, smart thermostats, computers, sensors, network elements) covering 1/3 of our service territory. By July 2009 (yes, this year), we will grow that capacity to managing 500,000 devices real-time and be servicing 100% our service territory. Effectively, by July 2009, Austin Energy will have the first full service territory Smart Grid ever built by any utility in the US.

Once again, our Smart Grid includes smart meters, smart thermostats, sensors, computers, and network elements across our entire service territory and covering 100% of all our customers (1 million consumers and 43,000 businesses).

Jesse's article follows. And I have included a link to get you there as well.


Smart Grid Leadership: The Top Ten “Smartest” States in 2009
March 24, 2009 by Jesse Berst

With over $4 billion in Washington DC’s stimulus money now available for Smart Grid improvements and innovations, the burden now falls on the states to use these funds effectively and efficiently. The goal, as Smart Grid News’ Stimulus Scorecard makes clear, is to help consumers, utilities, the nation and the planet win.

Given that the world is moving to an Electricity Economy, modernizing the grid is one of the smartest things any state can do to ensure it will remain globally competitive. But which states have made the most progress? And which are now in the best position to deploy recently released stimulus dollars productively?

I asked a cross section of the brightest Smart Grid experts around the country for the ten “smartest” states in America. To my surprise, there was a strong consensus about who’s leading the charge toward a modernized electricity system. So, without further hesitation, here are the top ten smart grid states, as measured by their progress in policy, planning and implementation:

Tier 1

California: The Golden State is at the top of everyone’s list. On the policy side, regulators are out in front, pushing new Smart Grid practices. For their part, the state’s three big utilities – SCE, SDGE, and PG&E – have each developed best practice studies and frameworks that can help the rest of the country grasp the benefits of Smart Grid improvements. The three utilities are also rolling out smart meters to all of their customers. And, in terms of stimulus readiness, the state’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has vowed to get more stimulus money than any other state in the nation.

Texas: The Lone Star State is just behind California as the current Smart Grid leader. From a policy perspective, however, Texas is not quite as proactive as California. But three of its utilities – CenterPoint Energy, Oncor, and Austin Energy – are as progressive as any in the country, and they are well under way with smart meter rollouts. The next breakthrough here will be integrating a host of digital tools for the Smart Grid.

Tier 2

Florida: The Sunshine State has established a strong build out for the Smart Grid – especially in the area of load control and communications infrastructure. A major utility, FP&L, has many substantive programs and is planning a number of new rollouts that will advance Smart Grid efforts.

Illinois: The Prairie State has been cited for its collaborative approach to the Smart Grid. This involves and engages communities up and down and all across the state. Tight community linkage is crucial for optimal Smart Grid success.

Pennsylvania: The Keystone State is the nation’s leader when it comes to smart meter installation; a 2008 report from FERC indicates that advanced metering penetration has reached nearly 25 percent in Pennsylvania.

West Virginia: The Mountain State is about to unveil a fully integrated statewide Smart Grid plan. Experts are impressed by this comprehensive approach at such an early stage.

Ohio: The Buckeye State has a group of enlightened policy makers who have stressed smart grid education.

Tier 3

New Jersey: The Garden State’s guiding light on the Smart Grid, Commissioner Fred Butler, is a progressive pragmatist who also serves as the Chairman of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), where he is spearheading studies on standards and best practices for the Smart Grid.

Connecticut: The Constitution State is considered a Smart Grid policy and build-out leader. A supporter of Energy Improvement Districts, Connecticut has begun to increase use of distributed generation and demand response programs.

Colorado: The Centennial State has lots going for it in the Smart Grid world: First, Xcel's 100,000-person Smart Grid city; second, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Boulder; and finally, Governor Bill Ritter, who is a big believer in Colorado’s new energy economy.

States to Watch

Michigan: DTE Energy is a forward-thinking utility that will enhance Smart Grid upgrades.

New York: Utilities in the state have done innovative research on the Smart Grid and how it would fare in dense urban areas.

Hawaii: The Department of Energy has selected Hawaii as a Smart Grid test case because of fossil-fuel dependence.

Indiana: Duke Energy’s plan for smart meter installation is currently under consideration by the state.

These informal Smart Grid rankings are a snapshot in time. Our electricity system is about to undergo major changes, thanks – in part – to federal stimulus funding.

In such a dynamic environment, it’s unclear who will be the Smart Grid leaders and followers in 2010. It’s also hard to say which states will be able to stay ahead in all three major smart grid categories – policy-making, planning, and implementation.

That said, there are already many lessons to learn right now – in how to plan, how to set policy, and even how to pursue stimulus dollars – from regulators and utilities in states like California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, Connecticut and Colorado. These lessons will be invaluable if we are to keep pace with China, Europe and the Middle East, all of which are aggressively upgrading their electricity grids.

So, as we close the first quarter of a very eventful 2009, these are the country’s “smartest” states.

A version of this article previously appeared in GreenTech Media.

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