A $20.8 million, eight-year plan for creating a “smart grid” electrical system in Richland was laid out for the city council at a meeting Tuesday.
Energy Services Director Ray Sieler said a smart grid would allow Richland’s Energy Services department to distribute power more efficiently and reliably, and beef up the availability of broadband communications in the city.
The plan includes installation of “smart” meters at all 24,500 homes and businesses in Richland, about 60 miles of fiber-optic cable throughout the city, and other hardware, software and communications infrastructure.
The smart grid would be created in phases, with the first section being completed in north Richland where companies such as Pacific Northwest National Laboratory could reap the benefits, according to the plan.
The smart grid concept is intended to transform the power grid with new technology to reduce the cost of using and delivering electricity, integrate renewable energy such as wind and solar power, give consumers more control over their energy use and improve the efficiency of the entire grid system.
The system could be used to curtail energy consumption during periods of peak use. Combined with real-time pricing, it would enable consumers to use less energy as costs go up.
The system could communicate with appliances in homes to schedule tasks such as pumping water or thawing an ice box at times of less demand on the system.
The city had hoped to receive about $10 million in stimulus money from $3.3 billion set aside for Department of Energy smart grid technology development grants, but learned Tuesday that its application didn’t make the list.
By Michelle Dupler, Tricity Herald – http://www.tri-cityherald.com/kennewick_pasco_richland/story/770434.html