Duke Energy reaches agreement on Indiana smart grid, partners to fast-track smart grid development

Jim Stanley,
President, Duke
Energy Indiana
Plainfield, IN and Charlotte, NC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — June 10, 2009 – Duke Energy has reached a settlement agreement with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor and key consumer groups on a proposal to begin modernizing its electric grid to create an intelligent power delivery system.
The settlement was reached between Duke Energy, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, the Duke Energy Indiana Industrial Group, Nucor Steel, and the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Inc.

“The existing power grid is an … analog-based system designed to deliver power with little communication between the utility, the power grid, the meters and our customers,” said Jim Stanley, president of Duke Energy Indiana. “Smart grid, with its digital, two-way communication capabilities, will transform how we operate our system – improving customer service, power reliability, and the efficiency of our transmission and distribution system.”

If the settlement is approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, Duke Energy will work to begin installing smarter energy meters and related equipment within six months.

The settlement provides for periodic program evaluation by all the parties and gradually ramping up meter installations. In addition, the settlement agreement provides for a renewable distributed generation pilot, in which photovoltaic panels, wind turbines and solar thermal water heaters will be installed at a specified number of homes and small businesses. Further, the company will pilot advanced pricing options for customers, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and residential home energy management systems. The residential home energy management system pilot would allow participating customers to manage their energy usage through an internet portal.

Duke Energy has also announced that it is to partner with network communications company Cisco Systems Inc., to fast-track the development of its smart grid. Cisco, working closely with Duke Energy, will develop a highly refined, end-to-end, smart grid internet protocol-based communications architecture – one that both companies believe will be among the most comprehensive and interoperable in the electric utility industry.

“Internet protocol-based open standards are key to creating a smart, highly secure backbone for the nation’s modern electrical grid,” said Marthin De Beer, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Emerging Technologies Group.

The two companies will jointly evaluate a variety of smart grid communications hardware and software, and oversee installation and testing of selected equipment and software throughout Duke Energy’s electric grid. The two companies also will test a new generation of durable, weather-proof communications equipment designed for use at Duke Energy’s electric substations.

In Indiana, Duke Energy’s goal is to install more than 800,000 smart meters throughout its service area over approximately five to six years.

In Ohio, Duke Energy later this year will launch a five-year mass deployment of smart grid technology, including more than 700,000 electric smart meters and 450,000 natural gas smart meters.

In addition to smart meters, Duke Energy plans to install a large amount of distribution automation – both hardware and software – to improve system efficiency and reliability on its electric grid in both Indiana and Ohio.

The company also is laying the groundwork to bring large-scale smart grid technology to three other states it serves – North Carolina, South Carolina and Kentucky.