[#SmartGrid スマートグリッド] コロラド、Boulder市のスマートグリッド実証試験記事。むしろ「実験」と呼ぶ方が正しい。=>

しかし、大いなる実験でないと本当の答えが出てこない、という事を読みながら感じました。 

また、Boulder市を選んだ理由も興味深い。


http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2009/10/20/20climatewire-largest-smart-grid-test-hopes-to-shock-consu-92426.html?pagewanted=2

Largest ‘Smart Grid’ Test Hopes to Shock Consumers About Energy Use

Whether that will be true here or anywhere else is still an open question, depending on how consumers respond. Still, facing soaring prices for new power plants, other utilities are planning to try similar programs. The Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets, which regulates the United Kingdom’s power grid, is planning up to four “smart grid” cities, each modeled after Boulder’s system. A recent report by the European Commission calls for as many as 30 “smart cities.” In the United States, the Department of Energy is planning to devote $1.5 billion from the recent economic stimulus law to setting up several larger, regional smart grid tests.

“The unit price of electricity is going nowhere but up,” explained Frederick Butler, president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. His group wants Boulder to be a “success story” because America’s long reliance on cheap energy is ending and the soaring costs of fuel and new power plants will eventually shock people. The current system, Butler noted, works “like a supermarket with no price tags. You are invited to go in and buy anything you want, and we’ll tell you how much it was at the end of the month.”

America’s electric gluttony, he added, extends beyond homeowners, because many businesses are renters and don’t see their energy bills. “I see big department stores in shopping malls. Late at night, they’re closed, but the escalators are still running and the air conditioning is still set at super cool. The message people have been getting is, ‘Use all [the electricity] you want, and we’ll make more.’ This has to be turned around, and the smart grid is the way to do it.”

How will America’s consumers respond?

Engineers describe the nation’s three interconnected power grids as the largest man-made machine on earth. Estimates of the cost to renovate them range from $200 billion to more than $1 trillion. Despite this steep price tag, Butler is convinced the renovations can be sold to the public. “Climate change is a motivator for people who care, but when you ask how much are you willing to spend, the numbers go way down. But if you stress how much money they might save, that could be a different story.”

There is a new galaxy of smart grid software, hardware and appliances being designed by companies, and Xcel’s Boulder experiment — being done with seven partners that make these items — is intended to test many of them out. According to Xcel, the experiment will cost $100 million, and both utilities and federal energy experts are anxious to see the data on consumer behavior that Boulder is expected to produce.

“We know we can get people to respond; that’s not really making news,” explained Rob Pratt, a power systems engineer at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Other studies, he notes, have shown that once people become aware of how much electricity they use, they cut their demand, on average, by about 10 percent.

The larger question is whether consumers “can stay signed up for 10 or 20 years into the future,” he added. “This is like creating a new power plant; it’s not a temporary deal. Utilities are preparing to make large, long-term investments, and we need to know whether they will pay off.”

“Do do people stay in or drop out? Does dealing with smart grid seem intrusive to people, or does it go viral? Those issues are really important. That’s why it’s important that you have a place like Boulder where people go all-out.”

Compared with other U.S. cities, Boulder does tend to go all-out on ideas that are considered “green.” In November 2006, Boulder voted to impose a carbon tax on itself to help reduce its carbon footprint. Last year, Xcel selected Boulder from a list of eight cities because Boulderites are “environmentally aware and early adopters of technology,” explained Xcel’s Henley.

One reason is because many federal and academic experts on smart grid issues live around here. They work at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Center for Atmospheric Research or the University of Colorado — all in Boulder — or at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in nearby Golden, Colo.

Spotting the blackout before it occurs

Aside from Chancellor DiStefano’s house, the laws, the financing, the regulations and the wiring needed to operate Boulder’s smart grid won’t be completed until sometime next year, but there have already been some interesting experiments. “Formerly, we were running blind,” explained Kathleen Hoxworth, a project manager at Xcel’s operations center in Denver, which collects data from Boulder.

On the conventional one-way grid, she noted, a utility often doesn’t know there is trouble on the grid until a consumer complains of a power outage. Then trucks and work crews have to be dispatched, and sometimes, especially where there are underground cables, multiple tests have to be conducted to figure out what section of the line, or which transformer, has blown.

This happened often, because the city’s demand for electricity has grown 39 percent in the last 10 years. Much of the new demand has come from customers installing air conditioning systems for the first time. “They wouldn’t necessarily tell the utility,” said Henley, so often the first sign of an increased demand would come when a nearby transformer blew. Now, Xcel can pinpoint the problem and beef up the transformer as soon as the new air conditioner is turned on.

One result is that there were 50 complaints about low voltage in 2007. This year, the utility says there were none. “We’ve improved our customers’ experience even though they don’t know it,” said Henley.

But Boulder, being Boulder, has also produced odd surprises. Engineers installing the new sensor network discovered that some electricity was moving the wrong way: back toward the power plant. Some of the estimated 700 homes in Boulder that have electricity-producing solar arrays were putting excess electricity back on the grid, without telling Xcel. “I guess they were doing it for the greater good of the community,” said Hoxworth.

Copyright 2009 E&E Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

Posted via email from Ippei’s @CloudNewsCenter info database

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