The city of Ellensburg will more than triple the size of its renewable energy park under a unique grant that taps a team from around the Northwest to build a “smart-grid” demonstration project.
The city will receive about $600,000 from the project, which
was announced this week by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The larger project is called the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project and includes utilities and energy companies from Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Wyoming.
Estimated to be a $178 million project, it will be managed by Battelle, which operates Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland.
Smart grid is the general concept of applying technological innovations to improve power delivery and enable such communications as real-time monitoring of electric use.
“Smart grid really has a lot of definitions,” said Bob Titus, Ellensburg’s energy services director. “Our focus is on distributed energy, which is expected to be much more prevalent in the future.”
Through the city utility company, customers can invest in renewable energy and receive a credit on their power bill. The city started the renewable energy park in 2006 on the west edge of Rotary Park, adjacent to Interstate 90. It is composed of about 60 kilowatts of solar panels.
With the grant, the city will add another 72 kilowatts of solar energy from different types of panel technology and 80 kilowatts worth of small wind systems.
Titus said that by expanding the park, more residents will be able to reap the benefits of solar and wind power.
“We’re making it so individuals can recognize same benefits as if the installation was on their own property,” he said.
Titus hopes to have all the paperwork associated with the project completed this spring so the installations can start in the summer, with a targeted completion date of 2011. Central Washington University will be involved in analyzing data from the project.
Leah Beth Ward, Yakima Herald-Republic – http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/2009/11/26/ellensburg-to-join-in-smart-grid-effort