After defining, architecting and being almost done building our Smart Grid, which will be live and covering 100% of our service territory by August 2009 (yes this year!). Our Smart Grid covers 440 square miles, 500,000 devices, 100 terabytes of data, 1 million consumers and 43,000 businesses, and we are moving very fast to our next phase of evolution.
Our current Smart Grid Program, which we call Smart Grid 1.0, is focused on the utility side of the grid. It is all about systems integration, communications, safety and reliability of electric operations, better and new services, and even better customer service. It goes from the central power plant through the transmission and distribution systems and all the way to the meter and back.
Our Smart Grid 2.0, which will be defined by recommendations of the Pecan Street Project, will be done with its planning by September and will commence deployment soon thereafter. It focus is all about the grid beyond the meter and into the premise (e.g. home, office, store, mall, building) with integration back to our utility grid. Our Smart Grid 2.0 is about managing and leveraging Distributed Generation (Solar PV, Micro Wind, etc), Storage, Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles, Electric Vehicles and Smart Appliances on the customer side of the meter.
The Pecan Street Project is a partnership between Austin Energy, the City of Austin, The University of Texas, The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, The Environmental Defense Fund, Dell, GE, IBM, Intel, Oracle, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Freescale Semiconductor, Sematech, GridPoint, and several others.
Why Smart Grid 2.0? Why the Pecan Street Project?
The power sector, which is responsible for 40 percent of annual energy use in the United States, is the single largest consumer of energy nationwide. The transportation sector, which is responsible for 29 percent of annual energy use in the United States, is the second largest consumer of energy nationwide. These two sectors also depend heavily on depleting resources, are prone to supply or delivery disruptions, and are the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
The vision of the Pecan Street Project is to solve the energy problem in Austin, Texas by reinventing the power sector via moving into new energy models, including interconnecting with the transportation sector.
We want to transform Austin Energy into the urban power system of the future while making the City of Austin and its local partners a local clean energy laboratory and hub for the world’s emerging cleantech sector. In doing so, we seek to prove that it is possible to remake the way we produce, use, store and trade energy in a way that is simultaneously consistent with our economical, environmental, social and security objectives. Implementing this vision will include the following types of innovations:
• Connected homes that incorporate smart end points such as meters, appliances, and local generation, integrated with smart markets and distributed smart grids to enable two-way electricity flow
• Smart home energy control systems/portals that provide citizens with more information, alternatives, and decision support
• Smart appliances and devices that can turn off during times of peak demand or high price, either driven by the energy services provider ’s policies or citizens preferences
• Smart markets that have a price built on supply and demand and therefore varies during the time of day and day of year
• Smart policies and government stimulus approaches that foster the innovation and implementation of these technologies and markets
• Green economy workforce members that can build, design, test, install, maintain, operate, and continually improve and invent sustainable capabilities
• Smart business plans that enable Austin Energy to lead on this reinvention of the energy system without compromising its sound financial footing
• Smart political leadership and popular will that shares the vision to make this project a reality
• Innovative laboratory environments supported by public, educational, private and Non-Government Organization partnerships
• Energy communities and networked information platforms that enable social network community development, markets and open society sustainable economic improvements
• Smart transportation systems that incorporate two-way distributed approaches to information flows, energy flows, and unified information and energy storage
• Smart working alternatives that provide more green options to citizens, from smart working centers with virtual life size video alternatives to alternative mass transportation to alternative routes to stay at home options.
• Connected and sustainable buildings for management of commercial and personal real estate, either by tenants, owners, and energy services providers
• We are hoping for 300MWs of alternative, distributed generation through distributed wind and solar
The Pecan Street Project will comprise three phases with several parallel efforts. Only the first two phases will be described here. The third phase is a potential new research consortium. The first phase will be complete by the end of August 2009, and will focus on developing an action plan for Austin Energy and identifying key barriers that must be overcome for success. These barriers will be organized into the following categories: technologies, workforce, markets and business models and policies. The technology section will be further organized into those that 1) are ready for implementation (for example motion sensors for hallway lights), 2) need to be tested and verified when integrated into the grid, and 3) need to be developed, as well as by generation, storage, efficiency, and low-tech options.
As technologies are verified over the first few years, they will be moved into implementation. As technologies are developed from research, they will be re-categorized as ready for testing and verification. Policies will also be organized into several additional categories that accelerate adoption with incentive approaches for citizens, energy services providers, the city, and private sector. Stimulus approaches from investments through bonds to taxes incentives to R&D partnership are just some of the methods to build out the desired impact of green economy and Information Communication and Technology (ICT) economy jobs. Some policies will be readily identified for implementation (for example, removing the ability for homeowner’s associations or others to prohibit the installation of solar panels), while others be identified, developed, and worked through the appropriate regulatory, policy, and citizen acceptance models. It is recognized to change behaviors toward the positive opportunities Pecan Street project strives for collaboration between city, state, and federal authorities is critical to ensure higher levels of citizen will power, satisfaction, and desire to contribute to a sustainable economy in Austin.
Just as it took a century to invent today’s energy system, the Pecan Street Project will require many years to reinvent it. Consequently, the cycle of technological innovation and implementation is expected to take place continuously. The inflection point of these two aspects will cause a disruption and accelerate the cycles from multiple decades to a decade or less.
Our better days are still ahead!