What is "Smart Grid"?
A smart grid delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using digital technology to improve reliability and increase efficiencies. A smart grid is a very broad term that covers modernization of both transmission and distribution systems. It enables greater use of clean, variable energy sources (such as wind and solar energy), establishes the automation and monitoring capabilities needed for distribution and transmission systems (see FAQs to the right) and helps promote energy conservation.
In other words, a smart grid is the foundation for a modern electrical grid. It’s an evolution of the grid that creates a two-way digital telecommunications network, substation automation and a robust distribution system. It will help the PUD and its customers realize greater efficiencies and enhance overall reliability.
Some of the key benefits include:
- Improves reliability by allowing the utility to identify and isolate power outages
- Allows utility and its customers to better integrate green energy sources in the grid
- Enhances two-way communications throughout the PUD service area
- Facilitates integration of plug-in electric vehicles
PUD Completes Fiber Optic Upgrade on Time, Under Budget
The PUD recently completed the first major project as part of a multi-year effort to upgrade its electric grid with smart grid technology – on time and under budget. The utility has installed 163 miles of fiber optic cable connecting its final set of 49 substations, a radio site and utility buildings. The project is supported by $15.8 million in matching federal stimulus dollars under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.
“These technology upgrades will provide the ability to measure, monitor and control power via robust two-way communications,” says PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “All of this work is moving us toward the ability to support smarter systems.”
The fiber installation is the first of several projects that will eventually include automation of substations, a Distribution Management System and distribution automation.
In the future, these upgrades will help customers get their service restored sooner and allow the utility to provide more detailed outage information. Additional system upgrades will allow the PUD to plan for other features as well, such as advanced metering to take advantage of new technologies including smart appliances, smart water heaters, dynamic pricing and other opportunities.
In the future, customers also will be able to better plan their consumption and incorporate small-scale generating sources, such as solar, into their energy supply. With more customers generating their own power, from sources such solar, an upgraded grid will provide a better means for power to be used closer to the place where it’s actually being created, reducing line losses. In addition, it will enable better integration of electric vehicles as they gain popularity in communities throughout the PUD service area.