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Florida City Moves To Integrated Smart Grid

Integrates Electricity, Gas and Water Utilities

2 min read
Florida City Moves To Integrated Smart Grid

I came across an interesting article in Government Technology magazine about a smart grid project in Tallahassee, Florida. Tallahassee's public utility will be soon linking electric, natural gas and water services utilizing some 220,000 smart meters that have been installed in the area over the past few years. According to the article, this may be the first effort to link all three types of services into a smart grid system in the US. 

The article says that utility customers will be able, among other things, to "... control thermostats remotely, choose their ideal electricity price rates and compare energy use data. They can sign up for a monetary cap for their accounts or receive a text or e-mail alert when their usage level approaches a preset limit."

The idea is to give customers a real-time view of their specific and total utility usage which will allow them to make choices about when it is the most cost effective to use, say, their electricity to do laundry or turn on the air conditioning.

The project, which began in 2005, will be finally rolled out this later this autumn.

Another article on says that the total project price was $40 million, and that Tallahassee's utility company paid for the project in part by taking out a 15-year loan to pay for the meters and the software systems required (it received an $8.9 million matching grant from the US as well). Tallahassee says it estimates an overall cost savings for itself of $1.5 million over 15 years.

However, enrollment into the smart grid system isn't mandatory for non-city government utility customers (Tallahassee's public utility hopes that at least 25,000 of its 100,000 or so customers enroll), so what individuals might save is a bit speculative. But if the city of Tallahassee, which is probably a pretty big utility user itself, saves only $1.5 million over 15 years, it is hard to imagine that residential or even business customers will be saving that much.

I'll let you know more - especially customer reaction - as the system goes live later this year.

The Conversation (0)
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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