Blog Post

7 smart grid projects that are turning heads

We’re at a juncture in the smart grid market where utilities are moving beyond the expected and taking next steps with advanced technologies – from the flywheel systems protecting Austin Energy’s new control center to SAIC’s “Smart Grid as a Service” that supports critical energy management systems in remote Alaskan villages. We’ve compiled these seven smart grid projects that we’re pretty sure you’ll find interesting:

1). Austin Energy using VYCON flywheel systems to protect its new control center

Instead of using traditional battery-based uninterruptible power systems (UPS) for its new control center, Austin Energy chose flywheels from Los Angeles-based VYCON to increase power backup reliability. “Flywheel UPSs are rapidly becoming the defacto choice for power protection when reliability is the key concern,” said Dann McKeraghan, sales and marketing vice president for VYCON. “This, coupled with their environmental advantages, and you have a win-win value proposition.” Austin Energy’s 190,000-square-foot Control Center operates the utility’s data center and operates the utility’s grid including the switching of utility grid quadrants. Read more here.

2). 4 Alaskan villages using SAIC’s smart grid as a service

The first implementation of the “Smart Grid as a Service (SGS)” offering from Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) has been up and running since Dec. 12, (we told you about it in How to manage 150,000 meters with a staff of zero). Intelligent Energy Systems hired SAIC to implement an energy management platform in four Alaska villages. “The challenges of climate, environment, and information technology are especially great in these regions,” said SAIC Assistant Vice President of Smart Grid, Steve Root.  “SGS will deliver the immediate advantage of on-demand meter reads, improved operational efficiency, as well as reduced energy costs and will support critical energy management decisions throughout the remote regions of Alaska.” Read more here.

Honeywell's thermostat with Opower software

3). Hawaiian Electric and Honeywell test Fast DR for integrating clean power

Hawaiian Electric Co. in Honolulu is teaming with Honeywell in a two-year pilot project to demonstrate how demand response technology can help integrate more intermittent renewable energy to the electric grid. Working with commercial and industrial customers, Hawaiian Electric will conduct a test of “fast demand response” (Fast DR) technology, which gives the utility and facilities the tools to reduce demand within 10 minutes of notification of a pending imbalance between supply and demand. Companies receive an incentive to participate and when Fast DR events are triggered they receive an additional per-kilowatt-hour incentive credit, which Honeywell says can translate into thousands of dollars in annual savings. Read more here.

4). Encorp’s latest military microgrid is serving Fort Sill

The Fort Sill Army Base in Oklahoma, home to 20,000 permanent personnel and sites that train nearly 20,000 new artillery soldiers each year, is the fifth military / defense site where Fort Collins, CO-based Encorp has installed a microgrid. The installation is designed to provide around-the-clock, reliable onsite energy to offset utility power consumption at the massive 94,000-acre base. As Encorp officials explain it, the Fort Sill system links four generator sets that were installed years ago. Operators remotely dispatch the generators using Encorp controls that can interconnect just one generator with the base’s utility grid, or all at once. When the grid fails, Encorp controls allow the generators to operate independently. When grid connected, the microgrid can dispatch one megawatt of power at the mission critical facility. Read more here.

5). BPA pilot tests grid flexibility to accommodate variability of renewables

The Bonneville Power Administration is teaming with two Pacific Northwest utilities to determine if increasing the frequency of communication between wind suppliers and the electric grid will help the system adjust to fluctuations more effectively.  According to a report in Sustainable Business Oregon, Portland General Electric and Snohomish PUD have agreed to provide twice-an-hour scheduling of wind transmissions through the BPA system – up from the once-an-hour schedule in place for a century. The goal is to allow BPA to better manage its reserves. Read more here.

6). Con Edison teams with Siemens and TIBCO to improve network reliability

A stimulus-funded smart grid demonstration project in New York leverages TIBCO’s enterprise messaging technology and Siemens’ integration experience. There are a number of project objectives, including to improve smart grid reliability and to provide Con Edison customers with greater visibility, flexibility and value. The demonstration will also look at enhancing control capabilities for existing smart grid assets and managing daily system peaks via demand response. “New York is home to one of the most critical finance infrastructures in the world and the most pervasive big building management systems,” notes Murat Sonmez, a TIBCO EVP. “The ability to use real-time data to manage system assets, detect early warning signs and act immediately to resolve potential problems before they occur, is necessary to maintain predictable power and help keep businesses running.” Read more here.

7). Wake Electric member gets a familiar looking smart meter

Cute story out of North Carolina where member-owned Wake Electric is implementing a Sensus FlexNet AMI system to more than 35,000 members in a seven-county area. And one of the recent recipients of a smart meter at his house was Wake Electric member and Sensus CEO and President Peter Mainz. Sensus says the AMI program Wake Electric is implementing operates over a secure, wireless network using licensed spectrum for two-way, dedicated communication to residential electric meters as well as power distribution assets. It will replace a current single-read drive-by system that has been in service for the past decade. Read more here.

This article originally appeared on is the Internet’s oldest, largest and highest-ranked smart grid site. Visit for up-to-the-minute analysis of smart grid trendssmart grid technology and smart grid companies. Sign up for the free email newsletter or follow SGN on Twitter.