Smart grid in Chattanooga


To make a long story short, I’ve been thinking about Smart Grid because I’ve been working with MNREM (a MIRC partner) on how renewable energy businesses can use broadband. So a recent article in Wired caught my eye. Here’s the quick look from the article…

Chattanooga, Tennessee, utility EPB hit two milestones in the last two weeks of 2010: It completed the final touches on one of the fastest internet pipelines in the world, and it activated the first automated switches on its electricity network. The combination constitutes the backbone for a Department of Energy-funded smart grid network that’s expected to save the utility and area businesses tens of millions of dollars annually.

Smart Grid got a lot of attention in the National Broadband Plan – but a lot of folks ask me what Smart Grid is. Wikipedia has a definition (which I have to say has been called out as not impartial)…

A smart grid delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using two-way digital communications to control appliances at consumers’ homes; this saves energy, reduces costs and increases reliability and transparency.

EPB will provide usage information to businesses to help them make smart decisions about use – for example maybe they will be running some appliances only in off hours. But the network – with the automated switches – will also be able to do some self-repair or monitoring.

In fact, Wired reports…

Power outages cost businesses in EPB’s 600-square-mile territory about $100 million a year – a number that’s expected to decline 40 percent within the next 18 months due to the installation of automated switches. In addition, the utility’s planned projects will save $3 million a year through automated meter reading and allow it to roll out demand-response services.

I think that the possibilities should be motivating more of us to look at Chattanooga’s plans.