One of the fun things about editing a project like Worldchanging in times like these is the frequency with which our predictions and speculations get run down and overtaken by commercial realities. We've written a lot about smart grids, touting their potential benefits, from neighborhood survivability to enabling pug-in hybrid-electrics to act as a system of batteries during peak use surges.
Now Xcel Energy has announced that it's going to turn Boulder, Colorado, into the United States' first smart grid community:
Smart Grid City could feature a number of infrastructure upgrades and customer offerings – for the first time fully integrated through the partnership’s efforts in Boulder – including:
· Transformation of existing metering infrastructure to a robust, dynamic electric system communications network, providing real-time, high-speed, two-way communication throughout the distribution grid;
· Conversion of substations to “smart” substations capable of remote monitoring, near real-time data and optimized performance;
· At the customer’s invitation, installation of programmable in-home control devices and the necessary systems to fully automate home energy use; and
· Integration of infrastructure to support easily dispatched distributed generation technologies (such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with vehicle-to-grid technology; battery systems; wind turbines; and solar panels).
There's a lot more on their site, including a somewhat camp (I hope) instructional video.
There are some really smart folks who think that district infrastructure -- energy, water, sewers, even food production -- are integral to building sustainable cities. It's fun to think that we just got closer that that becoming a reality.
My take on Boulder here: http://climatesolutions.org/?s=journal&aid=104
This is a potentially huge deal.
Boulder is the perfect place for this. Despite its reputation as "The People's Republic," and its SUV-driving trustafarians, Boulder's always been an environmental leader, pioneering such things as Open Space preservation and progressive animal welfare laws. This idea should go over well with Boulder's generally forward-thinking people, and if Xcel follows through, it's easy to foresee it becoming a successful model for other places.