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Energy 101: Austin’s Pecan Street Smart Grid Project
A few weeks ago, we looked at Boulder, Colorado’s plan to become the first smart grid city. But Boulder isn’t the only U.S. city with visions of becoming completely smart meter-equipped. The Pecan Street Project in Austin, Texas aims to provide the city with 300 MW (a power plant’s worth) of renewable energy produced within city limits as well as thousands of smart meters installed in local homes and businesses.
Austin’s smart metering project, which will officially launch in August, covers 440 square miles, 500,000 devices, 100 terabytes of data, 1 million consumers and 43,000 businesses. The roll-out is happening much more quickly than in other cities because Texas is the only state in the country with its own power grid. That means the Pecan Street Project doesn’t have to go through the three to four year federal approval process.
Local utility Austin Energy wants to transform the city 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.” That means implementing a number of solutions in the coming months, such as smart home energy control systems, smart appliances, smart markets built on a supply and demand model, smart transportation systems, and smart business plans. In this case, “smart” refers to anything related to the wireless smart grid system.
In the first phase of the Pecan Street Project, an action plan will be developed to deal with new smart grid technologies as they move from prototype to consumer stages. Eventually, Austin Energy hopes to create a research consortium to develop new products. Expect other planned smart grid communities to track Austin’s project closely; the Pecan Street Project is, after all, years ahead of most smart grid plans.
Graphic designed by Lisa Rehbein, Community Impact Newspaper
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